Microblogging platforms like Twitter, Plurk, and FriendFeed are amongst the newest darlings in social media;their popularity based largely on the immediacy of their message.
As with any social media platform that grows in popularity, Internet marketers are eager to figure out how to leverage microblogging platforms in their social media campaigns. Questions about monetization, the stability of the platforms, and tracking efforts have been fodder on marketing blogs since their inception.
The one way you can sell the use of microblogging to your CEO without having to justify it in any other manner is as a platform for building brand advocacy.
A strong community of brand advocates is key to success in social media, as well as a healthy online reputation. The immediacy of the communication, and the plethora of tools associated with the various microblogging platforms make them the perfect place to begin a brand advocate building campaign.
Let's look at four ways in which you can utilize the varying microblogging sites to build up a base of customers that will help spread your brand message:
1) Follow People with Interests Related to What Your Company Offers on Twitter:
People with existing interests related to your product or company are more likely to become brand advocates.
By finding those people that have an existing interest in what your company does or offers you bypass the difficult task of creating interest initially.
One way to find people that have interests related to your product is to utilize:
1) Twitter Packs Wiki
Twitter Packs is a place to get a starting idea of who on Twitter posts about what.
Visit the Twubble web site and click "find some friends." The friends Twubble finds are ranked by how many of your friends are following them, and then, with one click, just as if you were on Twitter itself, you can begin follow your newfound brand advocates.
3) Twitter Local
Twitter Local helps you find people using Twitter in or around a certain area. You can enter a city, state, or zip, and the range of miles around the area to search, and Twitter Local will display the latest tweets coming from that area and this is a great tool for regional or local businesses loking to focus their efforts
4) Twits Like Me
The app called "Twits Like Me" is designed to help you find other Twitter users who share your interests. The tool searches for other users who tweet about the same things you do.
2) Monitor Twitter Search for Terms Related to Your Company to Initiate Genuine Conversation
Zappos.com is a company that understands social media. In fact, their CEO Tony Hsieh is a huge Twitter advocate and has trained the companies staff on how to utilize the platform, and have centralized their efforts at twitter.zappos.com.
It has been theorized and tested that Hsieh's own profile, Twitter.com/zappos or @zappos, is semi-automated at adding followers that mention "Zappos" or "shoes". The theory behind this strategy is likely to let possible customers know about the companies presence on the social platform, and gain an increased following themselves.
The company finds value in interacting with people searching or talking about their core product, shoes. They know that the users of the Twitter platform are more likely to be online shoppers, and that they can not only get their name brand in the mind of the consumer while they are thinking about buying, but also initiate conversation about their brand through their presence.
You can utilize either TweetScan or Twitter Search, formerly Summize, to monitor terms being discussed on Twitter. Twitter Search actually auto-refreshes your searches itself, or you can import their feed or TweetScan into your feed reader (if you are really socially media savvy you can create an imaginary friend in FriendFeed to monitor these searches while engaging with that community and Twitter via Twhirl)
3) Answering Product Question and User Sentiment (Negative/Positive)
There are a number of companies utilizing Twitter to engage directly with their customers via questions or monitored sentiment.
One of the best examples is BBGeeks.com.
BBGeeks.com utilizes their Twitter profile, Twitter.com/bbgeeks or @bbgeeks, to answer Blackberry specific questions and share information specific about Blackberry products and software.
@stuntdubl not sure what kind of pricing you will see, but here we saw $400 on a hardware upgrade/contract and $650 no contract 08:10 AM August 26, 2008
nichelady: @bbgeeks that's ridiculous. I have a Curve, I think I'll stick w. that. *puffs* Now if T-Mobile would hurry up & carry 4.5 OS, I'd be happy
6 days ago Reply View Tweet
bbgeeks: @nichelady we definitely feel your pain! - the device is a beauty though and worth the price IMO
about 2 hours later Reply View Tweet
nichelady: @bbgeeks haven't played with it - but I'll take your word for it. I'm a crackberry fan, so we both know when the bold is offered I'll buy it
about 5 hours later Reply View Tweet
bbgeeks: @nichelady absolutely! we now have a couple Bolds in the office and we are still anxiously awaiting the release of the "other" handsets =)
about 17 hours later Reply View Tweet
In this exchange BBGeeks.com made an interaction with an advocate of its primary product, and this user may likely take this connection to the conversion funnel when the Blackberry Bold becomes available in the US.
This exchange, since public, may have likely won over other product advocates to be BBGeeks.com brand advocates.
4) Create FriendFeed Rooms
Once you have created contacts on microblogging platforms with people interested in your business, and have started a conversation, wouldn't it be great to have them come and interact with you in a space you have created?
Well on FriendFeed you can do just that.
You can create a room based on your company, product, or even your business concept.
This will allow for you to share feeds that your new brand advocates might find useful, and will allow for your advocates to share links and messages with the rest of the group.
This is where more traditional social media merges with microblogging and feed aggregation.
Microblogging is a difficult medium to explain.
It is an even more difficult medium to sell to the CEO.
However, by breaking it down into terms that they understand, such as dollars earned through new brand advocates and dollars saved through any reputation crisis those advocates can calm for you, you can sway your decision maker to take a leap.
Then once you are in the microblogging door the rest of the platforms potential will be at hand.
Dave Snyder is co-founder of Search and Social