Dave Folkens

Twitter Engagement for Business

Dave Folkens     Online Marketing, Social Media

Twitter, TopRank, Tweet, Social MediaIt’s easy for early adopters and social media enthusiasts to get caught up in the latest and greatest tool available but many companies are still seeking a basic foundation. According to Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, only 12 percent of companies surveyed felt their organizations were using social media effectively.

Exploration and experimentation are viable steps when entering social media marketing for the first time. However, the key to successful social media use is identifying how a brand will use each social channel. Once the approach is set, it’s an ongoing process of testing and refinement to achieve the objectives that will make a difference to each business. A great place to start in sorting out a process for companies is our  social media checklist which provides questions to consider before jumping head-first into the deep end of the social media pool.

For many companies, understanding the specific benefits and uses of each social media tool can be a challenge when assessing how to begin. Taking a look at one of the major channels available today, Twitter, here are some core communication fundamentals to make the microblogging service work for business.

  • Listening:

At a minimum, this should be on the radar for any business that cares about how its brand is viewed. In the Harvard Business Review study mentioned earlier, a stunning 75% of the companies in the survey said they did not know where their most valuable customers were talking about them. Twitter is a real-time opportunity to listen in on the conversations of 200 million users. Setting up simple searches allows companies to hear comments that could go unnoticed if ignoring this social channel.

Search Twitter, Microsoft, Twitter monitoring, brands online

  • Serve as a Resource:

Provide information that helps your target audience in a quick, easy-to-use format. The brevity required on Twitter takes some getting used to but the brief updates provided allow companies to share original content (a direct benefit for the brand) and credible information in the form of retweets that are helpful to future customers. Online communities value voices that are willing to share real insight and understand the relationship nature of social media.

Online resource, TopRank Online, Twitter marketing

  • Be Human:

If followers just wanted to hear the latest news from the company and read press releases they can just check out the shareholder page or look at the media section of a corporate website. Allow employees with responsibility for online communities the freedom to share their own style when engaging with others. Provide guidelines for anyone tweeting on behalf of the company but don’t underestimate the value of having a “real person” online. Share the human side of your company and stories about the people doing the tweeting for the business. Seek opportunities to provide photos from events in the community where employees are doing charitable work or even creative promotional efforts that are fun or engaging.

Twitter brands, Southwest Air

  • Learn and Get Feedback:

Have an idea and want to understand how it might be received in the market? Or perhaps a brand wants to know how a certain outlet is performing?  Ask relevant questions on Twitter and consumers are happy to share opinions. People like being asked to provide input on topics of interest. This is an area that makes some companies squirm a bit because of the potential for negative feedback. However, isn’t it better to get that feedback early in the promotion or development cycle than after a significant investment in a strategy that will be viewed as a horrible train wreck *after* launch or to lose a customer based on bad experiences? In addition, 64% trust social media more if the dialogue is open to both positive and negative comments. Take advantage of the online community to gain feedback and generate new ideas that will result connect with the audience served by your business.

Twitter marketing, Whole Foods, Customer service, Retail stores

To set a smart social media marketing strategy, take the time to dig into each of the channels available to businesses. Evaluate each tool individually rather than tossing all social media into one category when making a decision about how it can benefit an organization.

Seen any great examples of Twitter use by businesses or have any tools you’d like to know more about? Share them here and look for future posts on the pros/cons of select social media for business from the TopRank team.

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  1. Avatar Anonymous says

    Great advice here Dave especially as “brands” try and determine how best to incorporate Social Media and Social Network Sites into their overall communication and marketing tool-kits.

    • Avatar Anonymous says

      Thanks Andy- Integration into an overall strategy is key. Social media isn’t a cure all but a great way to offer deeper connections with your audience.

  2. Avatar Ilias Chelidonis says

    Very good advice Dave, altought i am new to Twitter marketing i have realized that quality content pays off once more as well being unique. Regarding listening, i did this mistake couple of years back so i learned my lesson.

    • Avatar Anonymous says

      It’s all a learning process. Unique, quality content does well on Twitter as it’s so easily shareable.

  3. The biggest mistake a company can make on social media is to try and sell something in an obvious way. That’s why I think your article is spot on. Companies should mainly use social media as a customer service tool, to listen to their clients, to understand their behaviour, etc. and not to sell some more to their customers.

  4. Thanks Dave. Nice info. Regarding your request I’d like to see a similar post as this focusing on LinkedIn. YouTube and Q&A sites are also of interest, but I feel that LinkedIn has the most untapped potential for the clients I work with. Thanks!

  5. I love the “Be Human” part and the idea of letting multiple people post on behalf of the organization. A nice touch is to add the name to the post; i.e. sign off with “-Gary”. Easier on FB with more room, but it makes it even more human in my opinion. – Gary

    • Avatar Anonymous says

      At the end of the day we all appreciate personal service or personal connections.

  6. Avatar Harold Andrino says

    Great advice sir! I can use what I’ve learned here in my future projects. Twitter is such a giant business channel.

  7. I can’t tell you how many “experts” were saying Twitter will never be used for business,
    from 2006-2010.

    • Avatar Anonymous says

      It’s funny how things change over time isn’t it? Just need a few people to lead the effort and you start to see movement.

  8. I just recently added a twitter button on my site, but I see now how important it is to start using twitter more often. Thank you.

  9. I love all your ideas and the way you’ve presented them. I’ve been trying to get a handle on the whole social media thing for awhile now, and it just seems to be evading me. I think I have a human voice, one that speaks to people. I update with articles and blog posts and I’ve even run contests. I’d love to respond to comments, readers etc. but nobody’s commenting! How do you get people talking? How do you get them involved? Everyone says interesting, compelling content, but I think our content is compelling! Am I doing something wrong? Please help 🙂
    Thanks- Ilana

    • While you think your content is compelling, isn’t the real question whether your target audience thinks the same? “Compelling content” doesn’t just mean the words, but the layout, the design, the context and where / how it’s promoted. Great content is dead until people share it.

      • Hey,
        thanks for the response (I don’t know why I only saw it now). I guess I will focus on the presentation aspect. Other than the usual social media outlets (twitter, fb, linked etc.) are there other methods you would suggest? Thanks again!

  10. Thanks for this great post Dave. I have studied this subject a lot as part of the marketing college courses I teach and have come to appreciate a number of successful business approaches to Twitter. I know this sounds heretical but companies don’t necessarily have to engage to realize business benefits. For example, some huge companies are using Twitter for job postings. It’s a legitimate use creating a business benefit. Also I have been studying how governments are beginning to use Twitter. Fascinating opportunities. Kind of opened my eyes to a few new approaches.

    This is a vital topic. I shared more of my views in a book which can be found here: http://bit.ly/taobook I know it it taboo to be self-promotional but this content is drectly relevant to this topic and hopefully will be interesting to your readers.

    A great post — and just the tip of the iceberg!! Thanks!

  11. Avatar Johannsonalbert says

    We need to reach millions of customers each day and internet marketing is the best way to make this happen. Internet Marketing not only drives traffic to our site and increases our revenues, but what is important, is to share to people that we have great services that they can use or tools that can help improve themselves and their lives.

  12. Just a heads up Glenn, your comment qualifies as spammy according to our comment guidelines. It will be deleted shortly.

  13. Great blog post. Most businesses forget about listening and be a resource. It just seems like they want to scream their message. I feel most people use the internet to research, not get screamed at. Businesses need to listen to their customers and create good content and engage with their customers.

  14. Hi, thank you for all of your content, I will be back soon to read over most of them agian, I am passionate about online marketing and you have helped me greatly.All the best from Graham Hunt.

  15. Avatar Anonymous says

    I think larger organizations have a lot more uses for twitter than small businesses do. It’s a shame that larger businesses don’t take advantage of social media as much as they should.

  16. twelpforce is a good example of twitter use to engage with its customers.

  17. These are useful tips for people trying to figure out how to best approach the incorporation of social media in their online marketing efforts. I appreciate your comment about how employees should be able to interject their own personality into their online community conversations. I often hear about the value of sounding authoritative but sincerity and a genuine voice can be just as important.

  18. Avatar Jade Holden says

    This is a great Article post thanks for sharing it, I too run my own Twitter based business where I am making affiliate commissions, please if you have time take a look at my website and leave your comment – http://www.holdenlimited.co.uk/


    Jade Holden