Making the Case for Twitter as a Business Tool – 33 Ways Larger Organizations Can Use Twitter

This week I read yet another article about Twitter by someone who doesn’t understand Twitter. The article talked about how Twitter has not lived up to its hype as the next business “must have” / “must do.”

One of the telling quotes from the article was:
Twitter is turning out to be like a huge party that everybody RSVP'd for and very few people showed up. You know that feeling you may have had in the back of your mind wondering how interesting it would really be to let everybody know about what you were doing every hour? You may have been right -- it's not interesting at all.


Okay here we go again. Twitter (and other social media platforms) really don’t work well when they are just duct-taped onto old school ways of doing business. But Twitter works quite well when used together with blogs as a means of social networking instead of social marketing.

Here’s an analogy. Social networking is like attending a party. You don’t want to be THAT GUY who goes around the room handing out business cards and trying to steer social conversations toward your business. Yet this is exactly how many businesses try market themselves with Twitter.

This does not mean that you cannot get business as a result of meeting people in social settings, but you have to go about it differently. You have to interact with people as people and not as targets.

Below is a list of 33 ways even larger organizations can use Twitter:

  1. Drive Traffic to your company’s blog. Yes, you must have a blog. Twitter, with its 140 character limitation, only allows you to entice people with a brief headline. Then you must send them to a link for more information. A blog enables you to continue that conversation with your readers. It is where you can inform them, show value to them, draw them into a relationship with your company. And ultimately turn them into customers.

  2. Get new content noticed. Whenever you create new content (whether on your blog or static website) tweet about it to attract visitors. Make sure your content is interesting and valuable and not merely self-serving. Link to videos, quality articles, or slideshows.

  3. Twitter is the tip of the sword for publicity efforts. Many traditional journalists aren’t yet paying attention to Twitter. No problem, they are paying attention to bloggers and others who are online thought leaders. Twitter can get you noticed by these people, who will in turn be noticed by traditional media.

  4. Broadcast your PR pieces. As a publicity tool, Twitter can get the word out about something new and can link to online news releases. More often than not, a release posted online is ignored. But what if your release actually contains some really interesting information and not mere fluff? How do you get it noticed? Tweet about it to get those online thought leaders to see it.

  5. Get more mileage out of publicity. If a favorable article appears in small media market or obscure publication, how to get it seen all over country? With Twitter you can spotlight such an article and keep giving it exposure long after it’s news cycle has passed.

  6. Find out immediately when your company or product is in news. if you don’t find out about a news piece right away, your opportunity to maximize exposure from it can be lost. Twitter enables you to find out about these favorable mentions early by having a pre-set keyword search in place.

  7. Offset bad publicity. Get your side of the story out quickly. Because Twitter gives you an early warning whenever someone tweets about your company, you can rebut or present offsetting information about the bad stories before they gain traction.

  8. Use Twitter to distribute white papers and case studies. The trouble with producing great informational pieces is that they have to be read by the right people to be effective. Twitter gives you a way to put them into the right hands.

  9. Humanize your executives. The more your audience can relate to your top people as humans, the better.

    For example, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks uses his blog and Twitter account to talk about his ideas and opinions. Cuban is loved by some and hated by others, but no one doubts that his humanity and passion. He puts himself out there gives his voice and views on a wide range of topics When he puts out a new blog post, he sends a tweet out about it as well to bring visitors to read it.

  10. Humanize your company. Highlight individuals who work hard to create great products and deliver great service. Don't just claim that your company is different, show it.

  11. Showcase customer service “heroes.” What happens in most companies when an employee delivers exceptional service for a customer? Usually they are given a pat on the back and an “attaboy.”

    Nothing will convince people that your company has a culture of caring for customers more than showcasing individual employees who go the extra mile for a customer. Not only does this build loyalty from outside the company, it also builds it from within.

  12. Educate your prospects and customers. These days you just cannot go too far in educating people about how to use your products, how to avoid problems, how to solve problems once they occur, etc. Helpful information builds a bond between you and your audience.

    Create "news you can use" pieces full of tips, solutions and ideas, and then get them out to people via Twitter.

  13. Highlight your high standards. It’s one thing to claim that you have high quality, it is another thing completely to show your quality control standards in practice. Do you have procedures that demonstrate your fanaticism for producing quality products or insuring great service? Show the world how your company goes the extra mile.

  14. Use Twitter to do good. Support causes, talk about the needs these causes address and show how others can help. Use Twitter to create buzz about needs, issues and concerns you feel are being overlooked. If you know of certain people suffering dire plights, you can champion their cause as a corporate white knight.

  15. Raise money for charity. Going hand in hand with supporting causes, supporting good charities allows companies to bask in the light of their good deeds. Use Twitter to raise money by offering matching donations, or by publicizing a charity's work.

  16. Keep your old content working. Old content need not die out or fade away. Twitter can drive traffic to even old content as long as it is still relevant.

  17. Show how the sausage is made. Add value to your products by using Twitter to highlight pieces on your manufacturing process. Customers like to see the inner workings of how the things they buy and use are made. Not only would a video of your process build more brand loyalty, it also removes pricing barriers to premium products.

  18. Preview launches and rollouts. Get pre-orders in advance of your product hitting the stores. Build excitement and anticipation for the product before it can be bought. Offer beta versions or advance copies to some key people on Twitter to help build buzz.

  19. Create buzz for upcoming events. Twitter can help make sure an event is well attended and gains the maximum exposure.

  20. Get television viewers. If a company executive will be appearing as a guest on a television show, use Twitter to let viewers know in advance. Afterwards, tweet about a video of that appearance.

  21. Spotlight commercials. Let’s face it, your most creative and expensive commercials are probably going to be ignored. Use Twitter to make sure they get more attention than it otherwise might receive.

    Create a video of the commercial's production. Give some insights into how the spot was made, who made it, why the message was worded as it was. As a result, a few more people may stay and watch it instead of making a refrigerator run.

  22. Listen. One of the little-known uses of Twitter is that you can learn so much by just listening to the stream of conversations going on. For more on this, check out my article, The Art of Listening on Twitter.

  23. Create evangelists. Using Twitter’s keyword search you can find people who love your products. If you can turn them into “evangelists” (or as Seth Godin refers to them in his book, The Idea Virus, “sneezers”) they will tweet and blog about your company and product.

    But how can you reward these people without paying out money? How about giving them inside access to information before it is made public? Such as a review copy of a book before it is released, invite them to a sneak preview of a movie, invite them to take part in focus groups or come to company events.

  24. Group evangelists. Sometimes you find your evangelists in groups. Create new groups around your interest area or encourage existing groups that have aligned interests. Find them on Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and other places. Just search for groups that exist around your subject area.

    Give groups special attention with inside information or access. Invite them to events, ask them to be involved in focus groups.

  25. Get more out of trade shows and conferences. When members of your team will be attending a conference, trade show or forum, tweet about it beforehand. Invite attendees to visit your company booth, attend breakout groups in which your people will be presenting, or just look them up as individuals going to the same event.

  26. Market research. If you build a following of people likely to use your product, send out open-ended questions with a link to a site to leave their responses. Invite them to participate in focus groups and surveys.

  27. Generate leads. Use Twitter to lead people to your opt in page and invite them to subscribe to your email newsletter. Reward them with some “bait piece” like a free ebook, video or report.

  28. Ask what people want to talk about. Let them know you are willing to answer their questions about your company. This can be through your company blog or an online form. Be sure you actually follow up on these questions in a timely manner or word will get out that you don’t really care.

  29. Create two way conversations with your customers. The above invitation to talk can lead to more than a one round exchange. These dialogues can wind up on Google. The people who respond will undoubtedly have a greater interest in your products than the rest of your market. Treat them well and show them respect.

  30. Get testimonials. Inviting people to talk can lead to some very positive feedback which can be used as case studies or testimonials.

  31. Innovative new uses for your products. Customers may find new uses for your product before you do. Think of baking soda. There must now be hundreds of uses that people have discovered. Use Twitter to share these new uses and applications to others.

  32. Gain deeper understanding of your target market. Twitter can enable you to learn what makes your customers tick by getting inside their heads. Using keyword searches allows you to almost read their thoughts as they tweet about things that bug them or excite them. This is valuable intelligence if you use it.

  33. Narrow your target market. Twitter allows you to define your niche with more exactitude. By listening, surveying and eliciting feedback with Twitter, you can learn far more than you could by other means.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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