How Businesses Gain Real Benefits from Twitter

When I read the majority of marketing articles, I find myself skipping the first paragraphs. In an age when time is one of our most valuable resources, I wish that everyone would just Get. To. The. Point. That’s the ultimate beauty of twitter ( Businesses can now get right to the heart of it with their consumers in 140 characters or less and not be faulted for short replies. From a consumer perspective, it’s great to pull up a business’s profile and see how they’re publicly responding to consumers’ questions, issues or compliments. From a brand’s perspective, it offers the opportunity to throw a little personality into the mix. If your brand isn’t on twitter, it’s time to get educated and make your move.

Here’s a short list of some twitter business basics:

  • Twitter is real-time, person-to-person broadcasting. Log-in regularly and update, or use tools to find out when people are talking to you.
  •  If you tweet too much, it turns people off. In this same vein, do not login multiple times a day and send out five updates at a time. A large number of Tweeters make this mistake, which is viewed as the “spam” of twitter.
  • Ask questions about your business, and let followers know you are taking action on their feedback. 
  • When you tweet as a business, make sure you post a mix of professional and personal comments. Search for Comcastcares and Zappos on twitter for two strong industry examples.
  • Subscribe to a service that “alerts” you as to when your brand is being mentioned on the web, such as Google Alerts. Businesses use these alerts to find out where conversations are, and twitter provides a platform for immediate response.

Here’s how two businesses recently made a strong impression on me through twitter engagement:

Home Depot
I complained on twitter about a series of bad experiences with Home Depot Online. Within minutes, “@theHomeDepot” was “following” me and asking to help. I gave a brief description of my problem and my order number, to which they immediately replied that they were looking into. The next day, I received an apologetic phone call from a customer service manager, and a $100 gift card was overnighted to me. I repaid Home Depot by publicly thanking them on twitter, facebook and the website GetSatisfaction. I continue to “follow” @theHomeDepot to learn about sales and marketing efforts, and they’ve secured my business.

One of my twitter friends, or tweeples, made a comment about carpet cleaners. I replied that “I’ve impressed a party’s worth of people by pulling out the Bissell SpotBot and cleaning a red wine spill.” Bissell’s “@wemeanclean” profile directed a message to me stating that it’s “Always nice to have party tricks.” Being a SpotBot enthusiast, I took the opportunity to sing its praises in a message directed back to @wemeanclean in front of my 150+ followers and opted to “follow” their brand. Bissell was using their twitter presence to let followers know about a “cute dog” contest on their website. I’ve entered my dog and downloaded the Bissell-branded widget so that my friends in other electronic locations know to vote for my dog too. This cross promotion is the type of electronic “word of mouth” brands long for, all of which resulted from a little “shout out” on behalf of a brand to one of their consumers.

It’s ok to use twitter for extended brand promotion too, but it helps to be “cute” about it. At a recent Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) event, moderator Bill Finn from Finn Digital gave away t-shirts to the first four people to “tweet” about the event from their mobile phones. As a result, MIMA garnered four+ pages of twitter activity and received the most public recognition to date. Perhaps a little party trick to keep in mind for your next sponsorship opportunity.

Twitter Lingo:

  • Tweet:  You are “tweeting” when you send a message on twitter
  • @ : This symbol directs your message to another user
  • #: This symbol allows you to “tag” your message for easy searching by others
  • OH = Overheard
  • RT = Retweet (i.e., spreading someone else’s word)
  • DM = Direct Message (i.e., the “email” of twitter)

Basic Twitter Tools:

  • Twitter Desktop Tools: update twitter posts from your desktop
  • Twirl:
  • Tweetdeck:
  • Chirpr (for Vista users) :
  • Special thanks to Charlie Schmidt, my husband, for writing this one!
  • Use  to find out “what’s hot” on twitter now.
  • Finn Digital twitter:
  • The Finn Digital twitter holiday tool allows you compare and post the “buzz” any topic is receiving on twitter:


By Jill Schmidt,
Interactive Strategist,
Finn Digital LLC


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