Just when you thought Twitter was the noise young giggling girls made or the chatter of sparrows at 6 am we discover it’s a social network. Twitter is known as a micro-blogging system. With 140-character ‘tweets’ information on sports and financial news, results are being distributed, company help desks are being run, and consumers are able to talk to politicians, celebrities and friends around the world through this social media. Ask the average Egyptian about the power of the Twitter effect and you will hear of the communication underground that helped overthrow a government.
Twitter is essentially a free service for the consumer who can access the service through their internet browser or mobile phone. Twitter is still working on concepts to drive advertising revenue and yet is applying for a listing on the US stock exchange with some commentators saying Twitter may see a public valuation of between $15 billion and $20 billion. Created by Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone around the same time as Facebook the system was developed after they looked at SMS networks and felt they could offer more.
The key difference from the focus of most other social networks is that for many users Twitter functions as simply a flow of information. Followers can connect with brands or personalities purely for the benefit of a tide of news or insights but from a business perspective, this has a short-term success rate. Now over 500 million Twitter followers are looking for brands that will engage with them. Thanks to the Twitter effect many consumers are using Twitter to give immediate feedback to a brand. Consider it a targeted SMS to your doorstep. If your business has the right social media management systems in place you are able to monitor mentions of your brand and respond directly to your customers through the ‘Twittersphere’.
Twitter is an extremely powerful social media tool for tapping into a stream of conversation. Traditional media like radio and television are using Twitter to generate live streams of customer feedback. The use of #hashtag codes helps segment Twitter content and allows users to find and follow information of relevance to them.
Engagement is still the key to social media strategy that gets results. Without realising the tools available to manage large numbers of Twitter followers, some marketers only develop an outbound twitter strategy and don’t create an inbound response system. Through the use of a monitored system, some companies are developing help-desk management systems while others are prospecting for business by mining tweets for key phrases like “looking for” and their own brand name or product type.
This has allowed them to personally respond to customers looking for a product or service and give a direct solution. The serendipitous nature of response adds to the experience for the user and creates a positive connection with the brand. Already in New Zealand organisations like Air New Zealand, Vodafone and the ASB Bank are leading the way in using twitter to connect with customers.