Silicon Valley superstar Marc Benioff recently stopped in Boston and pushed the idea of the social enterprise. The Salesforce CEO delivered a memorable keynote address at his 2011 Cloudforce event to drive home the message that businesses are increasingly becoming social. Marketing used to be a one-way street. Companies would push their advertising message to the masses and hope it stuck. Very recently social networking websites have opened the door for consumers to respond to the marketing messages with their own voice.
Twitter is one of the channels where consumers have become particularly vocal about their loved (or hated) brands and businesses. Many old school marketers and companies think it’s a cool medium but will have no effect on their bottom line. Wrong. The research shows that social media channels like Twitter can have a heavy impact on a business’ performance. We’ve established that your customers are on Twitter and what they say will affect your business; so how does a company get started on Twitter?
Step 1: Listen to Existing Conversation
I recently listened to Laura “@Pistachio” Fitton at a social media conference and she stressed the first thing you can do is listen. Make your way to the Twitter Search Engine and see who’s talking about your business. Is the conversation positive? Is there an opportunity to engage your customers? I would hope the answer is yes.
The old marketing aphorism rears its head: “fish where the fish are.” As a business, reaching your customers is priority number one. Millions of consumers are now on the micro-blogging platform Twitter; there is every reason to believe your customers are on the network.
If you run a search and nobody is talking about your business or brand, not to worry. That probably just means they are waiting for you arrive. You can start by surveying how your competition is using Twitter to work with their customers.
Step 2: Engage Your Customer Base
Here’s the fun part. You’ve taken the plunge and made an account for your business on Twitter. It’s time to engage your customers. Let’s examine case studies from successful brands to illustrate how Twitter is being used as an effective tool.
Customer Service: @GoDaddy is a great example of how a company helps customers on Twitter. By 2012, people won’t even want to call your help desk anymore; they will much rather get on their smartphone and send you a Tweet. Times are changing.
Being a Resource: @WholeFoods has a great social media strategy. The supermarket brand is often Tweeting recipes from their blog. Of course, the products mentioned are usually purchased at Whole Foods so they are helping themselves make money.
General Conversation: @JetBlue loves talking to their customers just like a friend would. You’ll notice there timeline is full of conversation with regular users and the occasional customer service. An example of a solid relationship building strategy.
Contests and Engagement: @DIRECTV asks questions and gives away prizes to their followers. They are another example of a company that has mastered engagement on Twitter.
Step 3: monetise your Followers
I mentioned in the beginning of the article social media will have an effect on your bottom line. Everything mentioned in the “Step 2” section will indirectly result in more revenue for a company. Customer service and engagement keeps a positive image in the mind of the consumer which ripples outward to their peers. The brand automatically grows. Aside from the regular engagement, how can a business directly reap revenue from Twitter?
@DellOutlet is the original master of making money on Twitter when in 2009 it was reported they banked $3,000,000 from Twitter related sales. By offering exclusive discounts through the micro-blogging tool, Dell became one of the first stand out success stories. As you would imagine, posting deals and discounts is the easiest way to monetise your fan base.
One of the biggest obstacles is building your original set of followers. Nobody pays attention when you have a few followers and everybody pays attention when you have a big following. There are 2 ways to building your account: the most obvious is the organic growth that takes tons of hard work. Alternative, many respectable companies and individuals give themselves a jump start and simply buy Twitter followers. After 3 years spent in the social media marketing industry I know buying followers is a legitimate method of giving a boost.
However you choose to build your initial following the important takeaway is that Twitter can have an effect on your revenue. Use it as a tool to your advantage. Twitter has been used to lead entire revolutions in the Middle East – why wouldn’t it be a potent tool to grow your business?