Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 12, 2009 1:31 PM

Alternative Ways For Businesses To Use Twitter

There are better (and more interesting) ways for companies to use Twitter than simply have a "conversation."

Most people think of Twitter as either a great way to engage in conversations with individuals, or as a great way for a company to blast out little bits of content in 140 characters at a time. There are also plenty of Blogs and Twitter conversations about how companies "should" use Twitter - as if there is some kind of professional code of conduct for businesses on Twitter. Bottom line, there are some innovative ways to use Twitter that go well beyond basic customer care.

Here are 6 alternative ways to use Twitter for business:

  1. Press release broadcast. One of the the first things marketers will say is not to put your press release on Twitter. Why not? What if you used Twitter as a mini broadcast/RSS feed so industry analysts and journalists could easily follow your Twitter feed and be informed when you have news for them? Let's say that feed is only being used by ten key industry media professionals, isn't it worth it?
  2. Delays, interruptions and emergencies. A simple Twitter feed that your employees and consumers can sign up to that will notify everyone of any emergencies your company may be experiencing (from delays and outages to shipping issues or problems in production). With a quick glance, everyone can know (in real-time) what problems you're having and when they will be resolved.
  3. Special offers. Many people consider selling or putting offers in Twitter streams very taboo. Why? It makes perfect sense to have a feed that anyone can follow where you can publish any special offers that your business has happening. You can even promote/attempt to grow it by throwing in some basic but valuable contesting into the feed.
  4. B2B feed. What about a specific feed for your suppliers and partners? This could be a great opportunity to fill this Twitter stream with relevant industry news, changes in operations and more.
  5. Surveys. For those interested, you could set-up a feed that only publishes small, simple and fun surveys. This could be a great way to better understand how people feel about your brand, products and/or services or a great way to get some ideas about how you can better serve your industry. Some of the best innovations happen when brands ask their consumers how they can better serve them.
  6. Replies only feed. I learned about this technique from Chris Brogan while he was explaining to me how Guy Kawasaki uses Twitter. In order to not fill up his personal Twitter stream with a bunch of @ replies, Kawasaki created a unique @ replies Twitter feed, so those interested in attempting to follow the myriad of conversations that he responds to can. This is interesting if you consider that you can use your main Twitter feed to really push-out unique content and use multiple/additional Twitter feeds for more niche or specific opportunities.

In the end, you have to figure out what your Twitter strategy is, why anyone would care and how you are going to connect, share, build and grow using this platform. Using Twitter for business is not going to be a silver bullet, and it's certainly not for everyone. That being said, Twitter doesn't have to only be about creating personal connections with individuals. Twitter can be about anything you want it to be about because if what you're doing doesn't resonate, people will simply not follow you.

What other alternative ways can you think of for businesses on Twitter?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Valerie Windsor
    Mitch Joel

    I love using my twitter for surveys - it's highly effective and fun! Because it's not JUST the people "following" you who answer. :) Great article!

    Reply
  • Posted by Jon Buscall
    Mitch Joel

    Some great suggestions. I do find that Twitter clients like TweetDeck and Tweetie have a bit of a way to go though when it comes to managing mulitiple accounts. Air Aps in particular tend to get bogged down.

    How many accounts have you got working successfully in one app?

    Reply
  • Posted by Tim Harrap
    Mitch Joel

    Yes a personal and business account is best but trying to avoid crossover is difficult at times! Item #2 I think is probably key and is exactly what www.yammer.com are trying to inculcate within businesses.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Some really interesting ideas for Twitter here. Another one is to use within and through firewall for employee communications - tweets protected is advisable. Great for keeping in touch with remote teams like sales force or engineers. Within firewall you can also use lists to group subject matter experts or departments. Dept lists can be used for intra-dept comms and SME lists are great for reference for employees needing answers/help.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dave Wirsching
    Mitch Joel

    I like to use Twitter combined with 3rd party app like Seesmic or Tweetdeck to serve as an low cost listening platform - whether it be listening to customers, competitors or just for industry news and info.

    Reply
  • Posted by Tim Nicholas
    Mitch Joel

    You can set up a dedicated Twitter account to support a specific marketing activity.
    I have written about an example of this idea in my latest blog post, where Twitter is incorporated into a campaign based around a company-sponsored seminar.
    Read it at http://mkgbytes.wordpress.com

    Reply
  • Posted by Nicholas Canning
    Mitch Joel

    Finally, some useful information about how to use Twitter effectively for your company. I figure most companies understand the benefits of using Twitter and social media, but very few use it to its full potential. I especially like your idea to use Twitter to notify employees about delays, interruptions and emergencies and customers about special offers. Who said this was taboo? I agree and I think it makes perfect sense. You say that Twitter is not for everyone. Do you think that with a little creativity most companies can find a good use for it?

    Reply
  • Posted by Victoria Przydrozny
    Victoria Przydrozny

    As a PR student, I am slowly learning how to use Twitter. I thought it was a waste of time trying to update strangers on what I’m doing. Even though I see it in a different light in relation to PR, I have a lot of practicing to do. These are some interesting ideas for Twitter to develop relationships especially through surveys and information about promotions, but Twitter is the new obsession. Some of my friend’s lives revolve around new updates and tweets. It gets annoying when we can’t enjoy a movie like we used to without interruption.

    Reply
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