Sunday, January 11, 2009

It May Help to Think of Twitter Like Email Marketing...Sorta

Many brands and consumers are still trying to figure out this whole Twitter thing. Meanwhile, brands that have setup Twitter accounts, such as @comcastcares and @zappos, are often cited as shining examples of leveraging this new medium. As a marketer, you can make excuses for why Twitter works for those guys and why it wouldn’t work for you. I say: get over it!

For marketers, one way to convince your company (or yourself) to experiment with Twitter is to apply some of your experience and comfort level from managing your email marketing programs.

Think about it this way. If you set up a Twitter account and get followers, that’s like customers signing up to be on your email list and opting in for future marketing communications. But there are a few notable differences:

  • Email marketing can be highly targeted and versioned. You can’t easily do that on Twitter (at least not with one account). It’s one-size-fits-all.
  • Twitter is primarily used as a public broadcast medium. But unlike other broadcast media like TV, radio or even banner ads, Twitter is opt-in and users can un-follow you with one click any time.
  • It doesn’t require heavy creative resources to deploy a campaign – no graphics to create, or layout and limited copywriting (the 140 character text limit helps serve as a forcing function).
  • Tweets (the equivalent of an email blast) can be made much faster than email communications because of the casual, limited text nature of “tweets”.
  • No need to deal with being blacklisted or wasting all your time managing and scrubbing your email database. Twitter bounceback rate? There’s no such thing?
  • Twitter technically costs nearly nothing to setup and manage, but does require human resources to maintain active presence in this community.
So, go ahead and dip your toe in the water, like Twitter newbie Doubletree Hotels. Test pushing out deals. Inform consumers of new product launches or updates. Announce local events. Like opt-in email, make sure the customer sees the benefit of following you on Twitter.

Promote your Twitter account with Twitter badges on your site and other social spaces (e.g., your brand’s Facebook page), email signature block, direct mail, packaging. In short, much like the late 90’s when brands promoted their AOL keyword or URL on all advertising and packaging, why not encourage customers to “follow us @BrandX”?

You can also search for existing brand mentions at to proactively reach out to those who are already talking about you on Twitter. In many cases, this will put you in a customer support (not marketing) role, so engage them directly in a meaningful way if you are able to help.

Unlike other push media, like broadcast or email, be prepared for followers to respond quickly and publicly…positively or negatively! You’ll need a community manager and rules of engagement to avoid a PR nightmare. Most users will expect a timely response, probably faster than your current customer service response rates.

To show I am not offering a totally biased view of exploiting Twitter, I leave you with this counterpoint from this website:


No comments:

Post a Comment