Thursday, July 16, 2009

Marketing to the Twitterati - companies that tweet

It seems that global warming doesn’t endanger a new breed of animals: the Twitterati.

These are frequent Twitter users, whose life seems to consist of sending as much tweets and retweets as possible. When running out of tweet content (“still stuck in traffic”, “cannot find my left contact lens”), they retweet other people’s tweets. The “me” factor is so high on Twitter, that Sprint Nextel included a flock of blue twitter birds in one of its cell phone commercials (see illustration).

For those of you, who are not familiar with Twitter, think of a micro-blog. Instead of ample space to write your story (peppered with links and images) you have on a limited character length of 140. As one of my friends puts it: “it’s like writing text messages on your phone, only this time online in a blog."

Companies have also fallen in love with Twitter – big time. Just check out some corporate websites, and you will find “follow us on Twitter” at the bottom of the webpage. Companies embrace Web 2.0 with a passion, also since it makes them look good. But what exactly is Web 2.0?

Web 1.0 was a one-way communication from a company to the www-surfers using a static website. Web 2.0 is bi-directional; website visitors can send info to the company. At first mainly Web 2.0 websites were mainly online shopping sites. The next 2.0 wave consisted of web forms and blogs, followed by social networking communities. LinkedIn is one of the oldest, followed by MySpace and Facebook.

Enter Twitter, where you can express your feelings (or frustrations) in 140 characters or less. Is it a Good Thing for companies, or should Twitterati stick to “who-murdered-Michael-Jackson?”
Individuals can "Me!"-tweet about “going on vacation” or “don’t like my new sweater”. Companies however need to provide value. That’s the crux of the matter - any serious company must tweet about a product proposition. Many are too lazy and just put shortened URLs to their press releases in their tweets. If you are too much “Me!” as a company, you will be ignored by the Twitterati and not be retweeted.

What excites Twitterati and makes them to read a corporate tweet?

  1. Lead for new jobs

  2. Cool (free!) downloads

  3. Hot news about the company linked to a current event

  4. Great articles about an industry or area of interest (target your Twitterati!)

  5. Links to interesting newsletters or magazine articles

  6. Information about network/media events

  7. Links to funny cartoons or clips

  8. Links to great blog postings

To leverage Twitter, companies must be smart. They need to define their target group, offer tailored tweet content with a value proposition, and keep up the effort to maintain a Twitter presence.

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