Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that has seen massive growth over the last two years and it can be a boon to any online marketing strategy.
The site allows users to post short messages to all other users that subscribe to their feed, or in Twitter-speak, their “followers”. Messages, or “tweets” have a maximum of 140 characters so updates are quick and to the point on Twitter.
With a little maintenance and promotion, a company can use a Twitter account to reach thousands of people every day for very low costs. The service is free and only requires one or two people to maintain any given account. Below are some suggestions on how to use Twitter as part of your overall online marketing strategy. These can be used for a main company account (like @Shoeboxed and @Grooveshark) or for company employees that also can promote the business to their own contacts.
Strengthen your brand
Using Twitter to talk about your company in an interesting and entertaining way can strengthen your overall brand. By giving your company a personality, you can make your company seem more accessible and friendly. Giving real-time office updates, giving inside information and telling relevant (and tasteful) jokes can go a long way. Make sure to avoid making all your tweets into advertisements, as this will surely turn people off.
Inform people of new products and services of your company
Lots of news actually breaks on Twitter. On many stories the Twitter community was talking about it before the mainstream media. You can do a little news-breaking of your own company by announcing new products and services that your company is offering.
Link to your website, blog or press releases
Twitter allows you to add links to your tweets, so if you have a good number of followers, you can expect a certain number of people to go to your website when you tweet about it and provide a link. This can be a powerful way to drive traffic and increase your company’s exposure.
Weigh in on conversations others have about your company
Using Twitter Search, you can search for your company’s name or your employee’s names. It will return all the tweets in which people mention the terms you search for. This is a great way to seek feedback on your product without putting out a formal survey. You will know what people think about what your company does, and you may find out interesting information that you didn’t already know. Verizon seems to get some bad tweets about its service, for example.
Engage with people talking about your field
You can also use Twitter Search to find out what people are saying about things related to your products or services. If you work for Geezeo.com, for example, you could see what everyone is saying about Mint.com or Wesabe.com, all sites that offer online financial management.
If your company is throwing an event or attending a conference, you can tweet about it to generate interest in the event. You may be able to rally a few more people to attend, and you may be able to find other Twitterers at the event. This kind of pre-networking can add value to the relationships you then create in person.
Provide customer support
Many companies, like Grooveshark, often provide customer support over Twitter. If your company’s clients are particularly tech-savvy, it is likely that many of them are on Twitter. By encouraging them to ask questions over Twitter, you can provide quick customer support to people in yet another medium. This adds to your company’s brand as it makes you look more accessible and more helpful.
Inform communities when other communication streams fail
If you ever need to alert people of something about your company and your other methods of communication are shut down, you can use Twitter. Though Twitter has struggled with up-time issues in the past, it seems to be doing better lately, and is now very reliable tool for communicating with customers if your main site or email server is down.
Please add any other comments you have in the comments.