Twitter’s a great tool to connect with others, but what else can it do? Is it worthy of the hype, and will it be around long-term?
There is actually a lot you can do with Twitter, and more uses are being discovered every day. Every niche uses Twitter differently (lawyers may use it to get advice on cases, while programmers might find work through Twitter). How many of these ways do you use?
- Customer Service: One of the best known examples of how businesses are using Twitter is for customer service. We’ve all heard about @ComcastCares helping cable customers (even those that don’t use Comcast), but there are other examples. Dell has many employees (like @LionelatDell) who are tweeting about various things, but who are always happy to help a customer. @GEICO is another example.
- How to Do It: Keep a search stream on keywords like your company’s name. If you see someone complaining or talking about a problem, reach out and see how you can help. Also make sure to publicize the fact that your company offers Twitter customer service support on your site.
- Find Out What People Are Saying About Your Brand: Curious what people think of you? Check Twitter. You’ll get the good, the bad and the ugly, but you can handle it. Use this as an opportunity to respond publicly to any false claims, and make good on fixing the true ones.
- How to Do It: Again, search your company. Assign someone in your company to keep an eye on this and quickly respond to any negative feedback. Also respond to positive feedback. Consider offering a gift or special discount to your brand evangelists on Twitter.
- Introduce New People to Your Product: People can’t buy your product if they don’t know about it. Twitter is a great place to talk about what you sell, but beware: talking too much about your product will turn people off.
- How to Do It: Inject mention of your product where appropriate. For example, if someone is bemoaning their broken printer and you sell printers, tweet them a teaser that will get them interested in what you offer. DON’T constantly tweet out product promotion. It’s tacky.
- Share Company News and Promotions: Twitter is today’s newsroom. Many people will never go to your site to click on your News page, so it’s a great tool to share what’s going on at your company. It’s also easy for people to click a link to visit a page on your site when you promote a sale.
- How to Do It: Share links to press releases and blog posts with enticing titles to get people to click. If you’re having a sale, offer the benefit (“Get 10 books for the price of 3 and STILL put money back in your pocket”). Also consider offering a special discount only found on Twitter.
- Keep Up with Live Events: One of Twitter’s earliest uses was at a conference. If you’re attending a conference or trade show, use Twitter and the hashtag designated for the event to keep up with sessions you don’t attend, and the latest Tweetup with your newest friends.
- How to Do It: For every tweet you put out that relates to the event, use the designated hashtag so people can find it. You can also find relevant people to follow by checking the hashtag stream to see who’s there.
- Make New Friends: The most fun use of Twitter is just making new friends. Whether you’re on for business or personal use, you can make some long-lasting friendships through tweets.
- How to Do It: Search for your interests and see who else is talking about them. Join in the conversation where appropriate. Add people you enjoy following to your favorites list so you can see what they’re saying any time.
- Find Job/Find Employees: It’s amazing how many people have found work through Twitter. If you’re looking for a job, follow Twitter profiles like FSwJobs or @work_freelance, which list jobs and descriptions daily.
- How to Do It: If you need to hire, link on Twitter to a job description page. Ask people to retweet your job opening. If you’re looking for a job, search for keywords and job titles you want.
- Conduct Research: The easiest way to get answers to questions is to ask them on Twitter. Want to know how people use Twitter? How many own iPhones? Own houses? Tweet it out.
- How to Do It: Just ask a question. Make it one people want to answer, then document your responses.
- Connect with Media Types: If you write press releases or look for media coverage in magazines, Twitter can be a great way to connect with journalists and editors.
- How to Do It: Search to see if a particular editor is on Twitter. Follow him, and pay attention to his tweets. DON’T just jump in and ask him to write about you. When it makes sense, tell him you have a story you’d like to share and ask if he’s interested, how can you best contact him. He’ll either tell you he’s not interested or give you his email.
There are even more ways to use Twitter to grow your business. How are you using it?
Susan Payton is the Managing Partner of Egg Marketing & Public Relations, an Internet marketing firm specializing in blogger outreach, social media, and PR. She is also the blogger behind The Marketing Eggspert Blog.