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Using Twitter to fulfil important business functions

Since its creation in 2006, Twitter has gained notoriety and popularity worldwide and has experienced significant growth. In January 2010 over 50 million Tweets (or messages) were posted per day.

Simply put, Twitter provides a simple, inexpensive, real time mechanism to deliver information. This is done by posting Tweets or short 140-character messages.

Twitter can be used in a number of ways to fulfil important business functions. These are:

Customer service:
Companies such as BigPond and South West Airlines (US) are using Twitter to provide useful service information, answer enquires and proactively resolve issues. What has been most surprising is that these companies are responding to Tweets that are posted in frustration to a problem. They are responding quickly and offering solutions which has gained them respect and goodwill within the Twitter community.

Using Twitter in this manner helps to ease the congestion of call centres and as it is in real time, a query or issue can be resolved more efficiently leaving the customer satisfied rather than frustrated.

Promote events:
Twitter can be used effectively in the lead up to an event to increase attendees, share information about the event and to leverage sponsorships. It can also be used really well during an event. Event goers can be encouraged to Tweet while at the event which will further help to promote your event to a wider audience and add a whole new level of interaction to the event itself.

Run competitions:
Twitter lends itself perfectly to giveaways and competitions and using it in this way is a great way to move people to action. An action may be to visit your website, look at your latest product or send in a photo. There are many ways you can work this and generally they are received quite well within the Twitter community. Have a look at Crust Pizza, which does a pizza giveaway every Friday and also iSpyLevi's that did a jeans treasure hunt giveaway in 2009.

Market research:
Twitter can also be used to find out what people are saying about your brand and also that of your competitors by using the Twitter search function. Although the downside to this is that there is no advanced search function to help you narrow down your searches, so there can be a bit of wading through irrelevant Tweets involved.

Broadcast function:
Twitter is a great way to let people know about your business, your latest products and the latest news about your business. Just make sure broadcasting doesn't take up too much of your Twitter activity. Just like real-conversations, if you only ever talk about yourself, sooner or later people will stop listening.

Thought leadership and Brand building:
Twitter is a great vehicle to build your brand and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry or area of expertise. Commentating on issues in your industry, blogging regularly (blogs and Twitter were made for each) and interacting with others in the same or similar industries will help to consolidate your position as a leader in your field.

Of course to really leverage your use of Twitter, it pays to have a sound strategy in place to make you get the most out of it. Ensuring your activities are tied in with your business objectives, will ensure your Twitter activities are focused and will have more chances to succeed.

By Jo Gitsham | @jo_drpr

For more information on developing a Twitter strategy for your business, please contact us.