This past week, Chris Brogan wrote a very concise and useful post on how to use Twitter for business.
In it, you will find ideas on creating an account, topics to consider for the medium, a check on Twittetiquette, and an assessment of both the minuses and the pluses of having a Twitter presence.
Whenever I write up ideas for execution, I tend to sell the concept up front by addressing why you should consider this idea.
If you are interested in listening in and interacting with individuals who may give you ideas on uses for products and services - yours or those of others - as well as catching a glimpse of what early adopters are working on and talking about, do sign up. The "why" can also be a "why not".
A brief aside for eager marketers - Twitter is not another channel for pushing messages or ads. Please go back and reread this line, twice. Aside from the important fact that you audience may not even be there, this is such a small community that the cat will be out of the bag before you have a chance to Twitter much.
The conversation at Chris' blog got into a lot of different tactics, with many useful comments. As for business value on the strategic side, I would like to suggest the following as starting points (please feel free to add):
You'll need to figure out if that is the case for your business - do your customers buy shoes? Then @Zappos would make sense. See the USAToday story. Are your customers likely to do some home repair? Then @TheHomeDepot would be a smart way to be listening and participating. How about computers? See @RichardatDELL and many other members of the Dell team. How about taking the initiative to reach out to customers and solve their connection problems? Frank Eliason @ComcastCares did just that. See the NYT story.
The concept of being in beta is great to test whether there would be resistance to offerings and why. Although the number of Twitter users is relatively small, it is a much bigger crowd than just the one customer who bought something custom from you and thought it was a good product. Before you go ahead and make that a product, find more than one way to test its marketability.
3. Give the community of other users a way to see your business personality.
There are few tools out there that are more humanizing than Twitter. When actual people do not compose the messages and post them to the stream, the community will know. You probably noticed the use of terminology. You send direct Tweets only to individuals who have accepted you as a member of their stream. In other words, those people give you permission to talk with them by adding you. On Twitter they "follow you" and you can "follow them" back.
is a lot you can learn about the dynamics of conversation and what
people are interested in by observing and participating. When it comes to figuring out how social media fits you and where you fit in there, doing it or trying it, is the best way. Twitter is not for everyone, but it is perfect for many. You decide.
Twitter can be very useful for staying in touch about and at regional events, for example. It is an extemporaneous tool to find out where people might be at a conference or what they are learning. The first time I used it, I was sitting in my office seeing three of my friends sending messages from the same event. I ended up connecting them to each other without even being there. All from using Twitter. How about communicating with your customers at a trade show about a demo you are running at your booth?
What other ideas have you implemented while using Twitter? How about sending your customers links to product and service updates on your Web site? This would greatly reduce the need for printed copies and mailings as well as emails filling their in box.
[image of my Twitter home page, click to enlarge - see short profile on the right, photo, and diversity of messages in the stream]