I’m easily intrigued by new tools and gadgets. I wouldn’t say I’m a “first adopter”, but if reviews are good I usually jump in and check it out. Needless to say the buzz about Twitter had caught my attention. So much so that I went out and signed up. But, the minute my account was activated the thrill of signing up quickly wore off. What would I ever use this for?
For those of you not aware of this new social media tool, “Twitter is for staying in touch and keeping up with friends no matter where you are or what you’re doing. For some friends you might want instant mobile updates—for others, you can just check the web” (from their website). You send a text messege to your Twitter account describing little snippets of your day and your fan base is updated via mobile device or web page.
My efficient nature took over and my mind started racing thinking of ways this could be utilized in marketing. Could this have a function in a small business marketing plan? Some thoughts were coming to mind, but they weren’t great. I decided to email some friends of the Lonely Marketer site and ask them these questions:
- Does this tool have a place in an online marketing plan?
- Should marketers even consider the tool as a viable resource for connecting with an audience or is this just a fun tool to use among friends?
Along with the questions, I asked them to rank Twitter using the following scale:
4 - A very useful tool for marketing
3 - A somewhat useful tool for marketing
2 - Very little use for marketing
1 – No use at all for marketing
I also asked for relevant Twitter posts they’ve either written or seen if they had any to offer up. Here are some of the responses I received:
Michael Jensen – SoloSEO
“Although I love the implementation that Twitter has done (IM, Text Message, and Web), I have not found value from Twitter. Twitter seems more of a distraction than a valuable business tool. Other services like IM and email seem to be more effective and less obtrusive.” Rank – 1
Paul Jahn – LocalMN
Paul uses Twitter mostly for fun but wonders if businesses could gain a viral audience by using the tool as something similar to Aric McKeown who started the Least Dangerous Game. Paul also noted The Technology Evangelist has a Twitter account to send updates on Podcasts and other events. Rank – 2
Jonathan Mendez – Optimize and Prophesize
“Twitter is likely one of the more challenging tools for marketers because of its immediacy and its close knit use. I’m afraid that like many “social” tools Twitter’s user of the network for business will be hindered by the fact that user expectation is that the tool does not message any marketing or commercial messages. In fact, because it is the most casual of all SM networks and relies on a close knit group, I would expect some backlash from the user base if this were to occur.” Rank – 2
Aaron Weiche – Prime Advertising Blog
“For most small businesses I would say Twitter has little impact or benefit. In some cases/companies I could see it allowing you to highlight specific services a small business is providing for a client at that time … Prime might Twitter “researching keywords for new restaurant client’s website”. For most small biz people, your time is already stretched, so stay focused on keeping your website current or even blogging before you dabble with Twitter.” Rank – 2
Mike Sansone – ConverStations
“I think Twitter could find a place in the small business world as a communications tool across virtual teams – and potentially as a marketing tool depending on the market and target audience. If the “talkers” or “users” of what I’m trying to market are Twitter users, or if Twitter users might touch my target audience, then yes – Twitter should be part of the plan.” Rank – 3 (depending on the market and target)
Mike did a post recently on Twitter as a business application
Drew McLellan – Drew’s Marketing Minute
The challenge in trying to use it as a business tool with an audience is — they all have to sign up for the service AND sign up as your friend. Otherwise, you are out of luck. So it is the ultimate in consumer-driven communications. I can see using it for a short term thing, like a conference or to promote an opening or launch of a product. Some situation where there’s a natural “buzz” and people want up to the minute updates. I can also see it working if you had a powerful community of brand evangelists. Harley comes to mind. Rank – 3 (in specific circumstances)
Caroline Melberg – Small Business Marketing Mavericks
“I’ll admit that I was skeptical, but after researching Twitter and other micro-blogging sites I’ve had my eyes opened. As a part of an integrated marketing campaign, Twitter has great potential for small business owners – both as a sales tool (quick and easy updating to your blog or website from anywhere – even your mobile phone – of specials, new arrivals, etc.) but also as a resource for helping to build a community with your clients as they begin using Twitter as well. It’s simple to use, quick and convenient – all great benefits for the small business owner looking to increase their web visits, sales and new customers.” Rank – 4 (as part of an integrated marketing campaign)
Caroline did a post recently on the usefulness of Twitter.
Micro-blogging is in it’s infancy. Like many other social media tools, the longer they stick around more ideas will come forth on using the tool. Douglas Karr did a post about Jaiku (another micro-blogging tool) where he poses the question, “Why aren’t marketers running to Jaiku“. He has some unique ideas that will get you thinking. Chris Pirillo had an interesting post about Twitter and Jaiku. He gives an example of a recent Google search where the top results were from Twitter and Jaiku discussion threads.
If search results start playing into the equation, I bet the SEO/SEM community will find more uses very quickly. Neil Patel writes on Search Engine Land (SEL) about Twitter’s ability to drive traffic and the fact you can put links into your “twits”. Danny Sullivan is also a fan as he’s set up SEL to be followed via Twitter while Andy Beard thinks Twitter is unethical as a business use. Many interesting perspectives!
Is this a tool for small business marketing? Maybe for BtoC, but not BtoB yet. I will say the research for this post and participation of others has me believing it is more than just a goofy instant messeging platform. Mike Sansone’s idea about virtual work groups and Douglas Karr’s post mentioning retailers pushing hot deals to customers got me thinking alot about how tools like this might play a more prominent role in the years to come.
When I’m out of town, I certainly would pay attention to a local Minneapolis sports blogger Twittering a Twins game for nine innings! Or maybe a representative from the Twins Twittering the game and offering “in-Twitter” ticket specials for upcoming games?!
Oh, the ideas could start coming fast now….