Previously on Test Tube Twitter: Part I, you learned of Twitters usage patterns that attest to its early adopter nature, along with some business case examples. Is Twitter right for your business? How can you get started?
Three Main Ingredients
If your company is evaluating conducting a Twitter experiment, here are the essential ingredients to be mixed in the beaker:
Taking a closer look at each will help you gauge your readiness and probability of success.
When considering whether or not to Tweet, step back and define the business objectives by answering the following questions:
- What are you hoping to achieve?
- What measurable business results do you want?
- Who is the intended audience? are they on Twitter?
- How will you measure success?
- Do you have, or can you acquire the necessary resources?
Companies have found many varied objectives where Twitter is having effect, while other business use cases are emerging: whether for media relations, customer service, sales, marketing communications broadcast, recruitment or driving traffic to a website, blog, webinar, promotion, event or retail location. In addition, individuals and professionals find Twitter to be a gem of a networking tool.
The category of micro-blogging that Twitter has been labeled with is ambiguous " I suppose the company was compelled to create a new category, but this does not describe its core capability. Rather, Twitter is a live (real-time) communication broadcast tool, not unlike E-mail, Instant Messaging, Telegrams or Radio broadcast systems " mashed up and online 24/7/365.
Twitter allows you to broadcast up to 140 characters at a time, as many times as you want, either to everyone (and anybody) or to one person or selected people. You can also send direct messages (akin to chat) to any one person. The live nature of Twitter is dependent on followers being signed in and attentive/alert to posts as they are sent. As a consequence, the more frequently that you post on Twitter, and the more content that is posted, the more chance of your intended audience actually reading and responding to the posts. In contrast, if your followers are offline when tweets are sent, they will most likely never read them " this is the real-time nature of Twitter.
Content frequency and relevancy to your audience is key to success. Net, you need a content plan for Twitter to make a dent in achieving your defined business objectives. And content is not easy, it entails a lot of consistent, continual effort to research, create and manage.
For this reason, Twitter is well suited to businesses that have rich content and high frequency communications with stakeholders " whether employees, customers, suppliers, investors, media or partners. It is not coincidental that social media smart brands, those with an existing blogging strategy, information and media companies and those with frequent updates are embracing Twitter. If your business is one of those, then Twitter may be an effective broadcast channel worth experimenting with.
Despite Twitter being a free Web tool that is overly simple to use, there is no free lunch since its going concern operation is dependent on adequate, perhaps dedicated resources. Depending on your strategy and expected results resources may also need to collaborate across business functions. For example, representatives from corporate communications, customer service, marketing and sales, to name a few, may need to provide input and content. And that requires a communication plan and governance model to guide cross-functional efforts.
Even with first phase initiatives some amount of resource " whether internal or external " will need to be allocated to plan and post content, as well as conduct regular monitoring and measurement. Staffing skills, traits and pre-requisite experience are likely to include a mix of excellent communications skills, digital technical competency, and marketing and business acumen " not to mention project management.
Lowest Barrier to Entry
If these strategy, content and resource issues are intimidating there is one least common denominator use of Twitter, and that is monitoring. Even if your company balks at Twitter or chooses a more prudent, risk averse approach you can start using it right now to monitor and listen to what customers, media and competitors are saying online about your company. You do not even have to open an account or engage directly in the conversations in order to benefit from gleamed brand, market and competitive insights.
All you have to do is search Twitter to find what may turn out to be actionable information you can use to improve customer service, product development, corporate communications or competitive intelligence. And while you are actively learning by monitoring and listening online you may eventually be inspired to add Twitter to your marketing mix.
Michelle Corsano is the President of Burst Technology Marketing " you can follow her on Twitter @mcorsano.