Do you know what Twitter is yet?
It's the reason more and more of the blogs you read have been referring to people as @innonate and @robmay.
Twitter is a social network based on one simple concept: What are you doing? It takes the concept of a Facebook or AIM status message and yanks it from those closed networks and applies it as an open platform. You can send Twitter messages from GTalk, the web, various clients built on an API, or, most importantly, by SMS on your phone.
While not a mainstream tool yet, it's become a very popular service among key blogging influencers.
One interesting feature is Tracking. Tracking allows you to get any mention of a term sent straight to your phone. So, if you are a Twitter user and you send "track snot" to 40404, every time the word "snot" appears in a Twitter message, it will get sent to you.
Being an avid fan of Jamba Juice, I track "jamba".
I figured I'd get a sporadic mention here and there, but, as it turns out, Twitterers are avid Jamba Juicers and I regularly get posts.
When people talk about buzz marketing, tracking conversations, as you can see, Twitter is where it's at.
People ask about the business model... I have no doubt there's a serious business model in here providing tools and services to brands to enable them to help track these conversations, over and above the "track" feature. Who's talking about your brand? What other things do they talk about? Who are they? But before that happens, brands need to get serious about Twitter.
(emilychang): turns out the jamba juice gifter wasn't a twitter-savvy company, but a nice gift from @ceonyc. haha Yeah... so I was the gifter.
You have to know the backstory. Quite a while ago, Emily and I got in a little blogger tiff, due to my slightly overaggressive poking of the bear. It totally blew up in my face. So, when I saw Emily's first Twitter message, I immediately thought this might be a good opportunity to bury the hatchet. I went to the site and got her a gift card. When I saw she thought it was from someone at Jamba Juice, I thought it was absolutely hilarious. Clearly, she gave the company too much credit for being Web 2.0 savvy. I mean, they don't even have a blog.
So what should they do? How can other brands and marketers use Twitter? Here are some suggestions, brought to you with the help of I Can Has Cheezburger.
- Listen first. "Track" your brand, if nothing else. It's really great information. Unfortunately, you can only send tracks to your phone at the moment, but I'm sure that will change.
- Listen more. "Follow" the key influencers and the people that are talking about your brand to here their stories, what other brands they use, what their lives are like, etc.
- Create a Twitter account for your brand. It's easier than a blog. Can't find a person who can write two paragraphs a week that legal and PR approve of? How about just 140 characters or less at a time? You could get that approved daily without a lot of fuss, I'm sure. You can even send links through it... tips, news stories, links to a corporate blog if you have one.
- Free stuff. A bunch of people sent around that "Buy one, get one free" coupon from Jamba that went around a month or two ago. That's how I found out about it...via Twitter tracking. Send links to coupons via Twitter... especially ones that can be redeemed with just a phone.
- Point of advertising follow up. You put your website on all your outdoor and transit ads, but how many times are people actually in front of a computer when they see it. Yet, they probably have their phone on them. Just tell them "Send 'follow jamba' to 40404" to get updates about Jamba Juice via Twitter. 40404 is an easy short code to remember, and instead of just being a one way communication tool, you're signing them up for a platform that enables them to be a connector and word of mouth marketer as well.
- Twit of the day. Encourage people to talk more about your product by holding "Twit of the day" contests that mention your brand.
- Executive twittering. Twitter makes your staff seem more connected and real, and provides transparency. When they Twitter about their day, it gives outsiders insight into how decisions at the company are made. Its all the benefits of blogging, only with a much lower overhead. Doesn't even require a computer!
- Mobile information. Use the Twitter API to build in an information tool via Twitter. Tell me where all the nearest Jamba Juices are when I send @jamba location 10010. Flavor of the week? @jamba weekly?
- Sponsor a Twitter display. Conferences are great places to allow people to interact live with a big TV display. Twitter allows people to send messages that can be displayed in prominent locations... like a conference backchannel. Connect a few big TVs up to a box, give people instructions, and slap your logo next to it, and you're now the sponsor of the communication hub, and again, enabling all your audience to go forth and spread the word.
- Track the competition. What are people saying about the other guy? Here's an opportunity to make the Folger's switch. "Bob normally drinks Folgers, but today, we've switched his regular coffee with Bright-eyed and blueberry. Let's follow his twits and see what happens.
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