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4 May  2008 ~

twitter-logo.jpg Communication and business effectiveness in our new world of Social Media is measured by a level of “being connected”.  Taken at face value Twitter is not unique, it is simply another method of communication. However, when you take a deeper look at Twitter, it is revolutionary.  It is an extremely powerful business communication tool that enables you to publish your thoughts on the fly to the world, or plug into the thoughts and information streams of other relevant parties and prospects.  Imagine having a loudspeaker plugged into all of your “connections”.  This would open up a whole new level of contact with your customers, your business partners and your employees. So, what is Twitter?

It can be thought of as a “micro blog”.  Great, what does that mean?  It is a blogging tool that restricts users to publishing only 140 characters (basically equal to one long sentence).  To me it is “reality TV”, internet style. Why, because just like reality TV, it enables a user to share details about daily life and experiences to potentially millions of followers, which IMHO is what attracts people to reality TV.  However you want to look at it, the bottom line is that Twitter is a communications tool. If your business needs to communicate, then it needs to Twitter.

The “elegance” of Twitter is the way it enables instant, yet non intrusive communication regarding literally anything your business needs to communicate about.

It is possible to use Twitter in unlimited ways that you see fit.  While some people might use it to describe how they just went to the store to get a gallon of milk, there are other more useful functions that businesses can utilize. It’s finding the right functions and knowing how to use them that provide your business with a competitive edge.
These can include:

  • Twitter as a Tool to Promote to Customers & Prospects – for instance, offer quick tips, lessons of the day or keep them up to date with your latest sales. Want a good example? Check out Woot.com, they use it this way.
  • Twitter Functioning as the Proverbial Water Cooler – This is specifically geared towards the small business all the professional that works from home.  The old standard of having the office water cooler to stand around and chat for couple of minutes really doesn’t exist if you work out of your home. For those virtual professionals, their work lives revolve around the PC, the phone and the four walls. Wouldn’t be fun to have a water cooler? Twitter is just that. Twitter allows you to take that break and have random social interaction with other people with the upside being to increase your productivity.
  • Twitter as an Awareness Tool – Think about this, how many times have you called or emailed some one, without a response? You don’t know what’s going on with them nor do you know why they are not responding to you. With Twitter, if you are following this person it’s fairly simple to go on and see if this person has been Twittering and what they’ve been up to. You may find that someone is on vacation or you may find that someone is traveling on business. The benefit here is that you can go online to Twitter before contacting someone to learn what they’re doing which in turn will enable you to increase the effectiveness of your contact with them.  Clearly this will work only for people that are using Twitter.
  • Twitter as a News Source – You could find out an amazing amount of information if you follow the right people.  Perhaps it’s competitive intelligence on your competition or it’s a learning about your industry from your potential customers.  Again there’s always two sides to every coin and people can find out things about you too, thus be aware of what you write.  Twitter can also break news in your industry, news that may not make headlines but still may be very important to you.  CNN is all over this one.
  • Twitter to Recruit – Let’s say you have a project or open position and need to find a resource, you could do it on Twitter. It’s probably more effective to check someone out on Twitter versus going through standard channels.
  • Twitter as a Crisis Alert System – Although I’ve not had to use this function yet, I could see the value here.  As we discussed in last week’s post about emergency management, having the ability to quickly communicate in a crisis to a variety of customers, key partners and employees is a tremendous asset. 
  • Twitter as a Conference Management Tool– Say you want to attend a conference but are not able to attend.  You can follow others that are attending and learn about the newsworthy elements through other’s Tweets.
  • Twitter to get Quick Feedback – You can post a question and get an answer back in minutes. On a fun note, I’ve heard about people who will Twitter about an upcoming movie as they’re standing online to buy tickets to a movie. By the time they reach the ticket counter they’ll have responses on which movies are best. Of course this can be used from a business Q&A side too. One thing to note… relationship building is always a two way street and you should help others by answering their questions and providing feedback too.

There’s so many more ways a business may want to use a tool like Twitter. Perhaps it’s to record tasks as you work on something, or perhaps you want to use it to pitch an idea to someone, (this is actually called a “twitpitch”) and of course there are a variety of ways to use this throughout your sales management process.  If you want to learn about more ways in which Twitter can function as a very effective business tool, please feel free to visit www.imarket20.com.  Now it’s my turn to ask you, what do you use Twitter for? Do you find it’s a useful communication tool or just a waste of your time?

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