“Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why” from Plugging into the Social Web

For all of those businesses that ask why Twitter is relevant to them.  This is a great post by Grant Criddle at the Plugging into the Social Web blog.

I’ll keep my comments short: read, learn and digest.

Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why

Posted by: Grant Criddle on: August 20, 2009

Twitter is an incredibly helpful business tool if you do the right things with it. People are reading so much about Twitter and how essential it is for business that they sign up without even understanding why or how to use it.  These “experiments” usually don’t last long.

With new things people often jump in, and then they jump right back out when it “doesn’t work” for them. All that’s really needed to get the most out of a business tool is an understanding of why it makes sense.

Here then, are 7 reasons that Twitter is a must have for any business.

1. BUILD AND EXPAND YOUR NETWORK – FORM RELATIONSHIPS

Everyone agrees that business cannot exist without people. We all maintain a personal network that consists of friends, family, work colleagues, professional contacts, customers or clients, etc, and our network grows when we meet new people and form some sort of relationship with them. Twitter makes it possible for you to seek out people with similar business or personal interests, add them to your network, and form relationships with them. The lifeblood of every business can be found in the people who make the business run, and in those who buy from the business. It’s always about people and their networks.

2. TOP OF MIND AWARENESS WITH CUSTOMERS AND PROSPECTS

If you are willing to put a little of your personal side into your tweets, be interesting and funny while still being informative, you may not have to work too hard at staying top of mind with your customer or prospect base. Next time they need the service you offer, they may think of you and your company just because they remember you from Twitter. They feel like they “know” you, and that you’re part of their personal network. People prefer to do business with people they know.

3. TO LEARN – ABOUT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING

The Twitter community is a diverse one that talks about anything and everything. When you’re in business, you often have questions about your particular market or industry. Twitter is very unique in that you can follow conversations that revolve around specific subjects (www.search.twitter.com), giving you a unique window into how any market development, situation or trend is being perceived. The conversations will also quite often include links to further information or commentary.  I love this capability and search for conversations about interactive marketing often. The only thing I have to be careful about is managing my time – there’s so much stuff! I could spend hours going through it all.

4. LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT YOU

Twitter provides a terrific opportunity to monitor the reputation of your company or your brand.  Companies may not always like what they hear, but they must at least know what’s being discussed. Let’s face it, people talk. You’re certainly not going to spy on your customers or prospects or bug their phones to see what they might be saying about your company (at least I hope not), but with Twitter you can sort of eavesdrop! You are able to search by keyword to monitor conversations about you or your company, and its products or services. Knowledge is power as the old axiom says. Twitter makes it easy.

5. LEARN ABOUT THE COMPETITION

Can you afford to not know what your competition is doing on Twitter? What is everyone is saying about them? What kind of reviews are they getting, good or bad?  How about who they are following and who is following them? You might even want to follow some of the same folks and read their tweets.  When has competitive research ever been easier?

6. TRANSFORM YOUR CUSTOMERS INTO RAVING FANS

Every company needs customers to stay in business, but the most successful companies transform lots of their customers into fans. You can probably think of someone right now who “swears by” a particular brand or company, Harley-Davidson for instance. If you are doing a great job for your customers and providing a good product and/or service, then you’ve probably got some fans.  If you invest a little time to really take care of those fans, they’ll take care of you.  They’ll not only tell the people in their network about you, they’ll recommend you. They’ll rave about how amazing you are. Twitter provides you with a platform to connect with your customers, thank them, offer specials to them and just plain let them know that you appreciate them. It’s instant. It’s easy and it’s effective – if you’re sincere.

7. LIGHTNING FAST CUSTOMER SERVICE

The main goal of customer service is to help someone resolve their issue. The key to great customer service is the speed and quality of your response – people simply don’t like to wait. Twitter is a lightning-fast platform that can help sift through and solve problems quickly. If it’s a small issue, a single tweet may be enough. For a more complex problem, you can initiate a deeper conversation with the customer. The speed of the first response is what makes people feel like they’re being taken care of. Have you ever been put on hold when you call a customer service line? How does that make you feel? Great customer service gets talked about, and this can lead to more sales and more attention. Twitter is one of the most viral platforms around, which can make one happy customer into a big story.

Is it a must that every business be on Twitter? No, not every business but I would say most. A business shouldn’t use Twitter if not a single one of their customers, potential customers or competitors is using Twitter.  So if you run a business on an isolated tropical island and you sell to customers who don’t have electricity, you might not need Twitter.  However, that doesn’t apply to most of you. Get started and remember to:

  • Make customers aware of your presence
  • Be engaged in the conversations
  • Track the conversation around your company, brand and market
  • Respond quickly and transparently to questions or mentions
  • Be authentic
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19 Responses to “Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why” from Plugging into the Social Web

  1. Joe Machuta says:

    Great post! I am seeing that it can work well for the small business owner as well as for larger corporations.

  2. rkwalton says:

    I think this is what people need to know. The Internet, computers and social media can be packaged in such a way that it seems complex. It’s really not.

    That’s the point of my blog and the subtitle. It’s just a conversation. Hopefully, Grant Criddle’s post will inspire you to take a bit of time to learn how it can benefit your business.

    • I will have to agree, social media and marketing your business through twitter, and other social networking sites can truly benefit your business and bring profits as well as customers. I will say and gree that stellar customer service is also important when building an online business!. This is such great information and very usful for anyone who wants to partake in utilizing social meida to advance their business online.

      • rkwalton says:

        Thanks for the comment, but you really don’t need to link the same thing three times. That’s a social media no-no and it’s a stone’s throw from spamming. The link shows up under your comment name 😉 Remember folks on the web are pretty bright.

  3. Beirut says:

    I really enjoyed your post but I’m going to have to disagree about the topic itself: Twitter has both pros and cons when it comes to using it for a business, here is a list of them: http://bit.ly/3lFRtr

    Although Twitter is the “new thing” and despite its many advantages for spreading the word about products and services and ease of use, it also has the ability to allow for a less secure network at the office, waste employee’s time as well as more room for property loss/theft.

    • rkwalton says:

      Thanks for stopping by.

      However, can you please give a hypothetical showing how Twitter is significantly different from any other form of communication? I don’t think Twitter is a new thing. The fact is I signed up for Twitter in 2007 when no one knew or cared about it. Now that it’s taken off, people see its value and that’s great. However, it’s an innovation on the things humans have been doing since the beginning: communicate.

      You can have employees blow hours of their time or steal via email or the phone too. However, businesses send press releases and pitches via email simply because it’s made it easier and you have people doing business via the phone constantly.

      It’s a new way to communicate, so those risks you mention? They apply to all the ways we communicate.

      Businesses have communication policies and confidentiality agreements that they subject their employees and business partners to. I wouldn’t expect any business to let their employees loose on Twitter without applying the similar and specially-tuned policies and confidentiality agreements for social media. It gets a bit more tricky with business partners but the same can apply in those situations.

      I will agree that since the Internet can be indexed and searched in a way that phone calls can’t or that emails can’t that the impact and exposure can be thousands of times more intense IF it goes viral. Thus, something that distinguishes Twitter and other forms of social media would be the scale of the impact. Again, this is IF something is so news worthy that others pick up on it. It goes the other way too. Like employees that call in sick and get busted posting party pics on Facebook or candidates or employees who share a bit too much on blogs and other social media. We all know that many businesses will simply Google to dig a bit into what candidates and employees say on the Internet in their free time.

      But if you’re using Twitter in the same way that you’d use TV, radio or print for advertising, people can record and post that media on YouTube too.

      You need to train employees and not let them loose on Twitter. If you do, then, like the early days of email or the telephone, there will be risks that people won’t consider. In fact, people still make email errors and send or forward things to recipients that they ought not.

      I, however, don’t see Twitter or any other social media site as SIGNIFICANTLY more risky than more traditional ways to communicate.

      The impact of a leak can be huge, but that leak would have to be intentional. Something like that is easier to see done via email. In fact, we’ve seen sites like Gawker.com publish emails and memos they’ve received from employees who want to expose something or someone.

      In the case of a disgruntled employee that tweets a link to a confidential memo or takes a screen shot of an email, it would be the same level of risk to a business as a fax or a forwarded email because now that information can be posted on Twitter, Facebook or put up on a blog.

      In fact, a direct leak on a Twitter account would possibly be EASIER to trace back because you have IP addresses and email addresses associated with the account that could be traced, monitored and searched. You’d also have prima facie intent to share that information, if someone sent a tweet.

      They would have to upload the memo, shrink the link of the memo so that it would fit in the 140 character requirement and then write (or maybe just send the tweet without text and that might relieve the need to shrink the link). Anyway, that example, shows that it might be a bit more difficult to send out and easier to trace back to an employee if it’s a tweet. If an employee wanted to expose something maybe, a photocopier and a letter mailed without a return address would be better for them because, while slower, it might be harder to trace.

      Twitter and other social media sites are just new ways to communicate. They have similar risks. Businesses need to consider those risks, but this is a ship that has already sailed. I wouldn’t advise any business not to use social media. I would advise a business to be smart about it and consider how to make it work for them.

      BTW, clearly, I need to update this because Grant Criddle wrote it and I want that to be 100% clear with no room for confusion. Maybe the link back wasn’t enough 😉

      …okay, now that’s done…

      • Amer Kawar says:

        Regina, I think I’m on your side on this one. I think Fadi’s advice in the article quoted by Beirut is the way I would go – which is obviously what we’re doing with Thoughtpick the blog.

        I agree, all companies faced possible issues with confidentiality even before the entire Internet age. Faxes and even photocopying machines could be enough to cause trouble – not at the scale Twitter and Facebook could, but it still could.

        I think customers support and engagement via social media is a great way of improving most businesses. Dell offers deals to anyone who talks about laptop purchasing, and @tastidlite and @coffeegroundz sells ice creams and coffee respectively to close by Twitter users. That’s simply evolution – if people like to communicate on Twitter, that’s where the customers support an sales people should be.

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  6. Hi Regina, thanks for making my post a part of Organic Social Media! I enjoyed reading the feedback and your replies. Your answer to Beirut was particularly insightful and well said. I mainly work face to face with bricks and mortar companies who think that they should be leveraging the “social media” thing, but sometimes have very little idea what it really is, how it works and how it actually benefits their business. And so the first part of every conversation I have with clients is often spent outlining what the key tools are and how they work, and Twitter is one that I spend a lot of time explaining. That is because so many business people are so misinformed about it. There’s plenty of published research and polls that support a couple of quick points I like to make: Twitter is used mainly by adults 25-54, and half of Twitter usage is related to business or commercial enterprise of some sort. The point I try to hammer home for them is that Twitter does not change who their customers and prospects are, or how and why they choose a product or service. It is simply a tool that provides access to some of that information, provides opportunities for interaction with them, and provides a real-time feedback monitoring capability. Every business is different, and there are also many different ways that Twitter can be utilized to help them promote their products or services. One must just be very careful about it. If followers don’t perceive value, then it’s a completely pointless exercise, and can actually alienate customers or potential customers. The key as you point out, is that Twitter and all social media networks do not replace or change consumer conversations, they simply bring them into a forum that’s accessible by everyone. As a business you can choose to engage in those conversations or you can choose to avoid them.

    • rkwalton says:

      Thanks for stopping by Grant!

      I think the public, the media, social media professionals and maybe the public is really twisting all of this. There is both excessive hype and excessive paranoia happening regarding social media. The excessive hype is great for Twitter and Facebook. I think the paranoia, however, prevents people from innovating and exploring these new ways to have a conversation.

      My belief is Twitter is just another way to communicate. It’s dynamic in the sense that you have so many people talking that there is tons upon tons of data out there. Business is really trying to figure out how to harness all of that for their gain and, rightly so, everyday people are doing the same thing 😉

      The same risks inherent to communication present themselves here as they have with other innovations in communication. People need to think it through. Mistakes will happen. Leaks will happen. However, in the days before Twitter, they happened too.

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  14. rkwalton says:

    Very strange…I can’t reply directly to Amer’s comment! I’m trying my hand at another WordPress blog, but I’ll admit that I’ve written almost all of my blogs on Blogger, except for Good Celebrities.

    So thanks for your comment Amer!!! I’m glad you dropped by!

    I think that’s what people need to understand: it’s simply another way to communicate.

    In the case of business, there is always a risk that employees will outright betray the company or simply mess up. Either way, I see that as no reason to avoid Twitter. It is reason, however, to learn how Twitter works.

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