How Do You Measure The Impact Of Twitter In Your Business?

holding_a_tweet_birdSo, you want to create more awareness to your brand and don’t know where to start? Well, you could go on the social media route. But you really have to carefully think about it. Because a reckless social media campaign could have negative effects on your business. Let’s take Twitter, for instance. Although Twitter was originally intended for communication among individuals, a number of organizations have begun to actively participate on the platform. However, not all companies are using Twitter in the same way. Some are tweeting, some are just listening, and some really savvy companies are doing both.

Before any company employees start tweeting, it would be a good idea to remind them that the same rules that apply to other web participation (like blogging, for example) also apply to Twitter. “As Twitter is a public forum, employees should understand the limits of what is acceptable and desirable,” says Jeffrey Mann, research vice president at Gartner. “If organizations have not defined a public Web participation policy, they should do so as quickly as possible

Customer service, recruiting, contests, giveaways and promotions — these are all standbys for businesses using Twitter as a medium to connect with customers and fans.

Given that Twitter as a platform supports nearly limitless applications for business use, we thought it time to highlight some of the newer Twitter-for-business opportunities that aren’t so obvious.

From pitching your followers and rewarding Twitter loyalty, to keeping a trained eye on the Twitterverse, targeting smaller communities, and adding metadata to tweets, here are some unique ways to use Twitter in your social business strategy

How Mountain Dew Uses Twitter

As part of Mountain Dew’s DEWmocracy campaign, the soda company empowered Flavor Nations — fan communities for new Dew flavors — to own a flavor of soda that the company is now testing on the market. Mountain Dew literally ceded control of the go-to-market strategy for each of these flavors to the consumer communities.

As part of the creative process, Mountain Dew even made advertising agencies pitch the Flavor Nations with their creative. While this wasn’t done via Twitter alone, the notion of putting brand advocates in the position of power is pretty remarkable.

You could steal from the Dew’s strategy and find a way to give your biggest brand advocates creative control over your next event, campaign or company initiative. Spend the time internally to craft a few solid ideas and then pitch them to your followers. This should be much more than a poll or vote, and instead more akin to empowering your Twitter influencers as project stakeholders.

How Tasti D-Lite Uses Twitter

Tasti D-Lite’s initiatives are defining the social media loyalty program. A huge part of their strategy is automatically rewarding customers with TreatCards when they tweet about the brand. It’s also an important part of their plan to build brand awareness so that they can open more stores across the United States. Starbucks has similar notions around loyalty and social media and is experimenting with Foursquare for that purpose.

Both companies have recognized that there is real business value every time a customer or fan shares their purchase behaviors with their friends. If you can find a way to automatically reward loyalty for Twitter-sharing, you’ll be motivating your audiences to spread your message for you. It’s a win-win for everyone, as long as you carefully consider the image of your customer and the message they push out to their followers.

Twitter For PR

Some companies are using Twitter as a marketing or public relations channel, much like an extension to their corporate blogs. They will post about corporate accomplishments and distribute links that take people back to corporate web pages, press releases, and other promotional sites.

This method probably seems to be the easiest way to get started, but companies need to be aware that using Twitter like this could actually hinder their image in the Twitter community. A whole bunch of self-serving, self-promotional tweets can actually damage their reputation – Twitter folks like a personal touch.

Invest several hours in building a few solid lists that you can easily track every day. Make sure that you track down innovators, influencers, those that break news in your space. Competitors and those that your competitors follow — both companies and individuals alike — are also key. Then remember to add to each list moving forward as you find more relevant names.

And just to be safe, when using social media, especially Twitter, here are some things that you should consider:

Build your following, reputation, and customer’s trust with these simple practices:

Share. Share photos and behind the scenes info about your business. Even better, give a glimpse of developing projects and events. Users come to Twitter to get and share the latest, so give it to them!

Listen. Regularly monitor the comments about your company, brand, and products.

Ask. Ask questions of your followers to glean valuable insights and show that you are listening.

Respond. Respond to compliments and feedback in real time

Tweet updates about special offers, discounts and time-sensitive deals.

Demonstrate wider leadership and know-how. Reference articles and links about the bigger picture as it relates to your business.

Champion your stakeholders. Retweet and reply publicly to great tweets posted by your followers and customers.

Establish the right voice. Twitter users tend to prefer a direct, genuine, and of course, a likable tone from your business, but think about your voice as you Tweet. How do you want your business to appear to the Twitter community?

Twitter is a great platform to voice what your brand stands for. Do it right and reap the rewards!

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Sheine Austria is a professional writer whose passion is digital media, technology and blogging. She also used to do some photography in her college days in Upskilled Australia. Sheine is also a single mother, when she gave birth to her daughter, she decided to transfer to California and discover her future there. Connect with her online via Twitter @sheine_a.

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