We’re all aware of the buzzwords like “social media” and “Twitter” but do you and your business know anything more that that? Do the communication and strategy leaders in your organization know more than most teenagers do about Twitter? For most, the answer is “no”. The majority of organizations continue to struggle to make sense of it all. Before you decide to keep your head in the sand hoping it will go away, read on and find out why it’s time to come to terms with a disruptive game changer that is not going away any time soon.
At the center of these social media technologies is Twitter, the micro-blogging site that has revolutionized business. In fact, with a 140 character limit for your Twitter posts (aka “tweets”), Twitter may be better described as a nano-blogging site. For many, Twitter allows users to “follow” their favorite celebrities, political figures and news outlets. By following, users can now receive tweets from those they follow and receive information that may not have otherwise been available. Celebrities and other public figures are using Twitter to stay in touch with their fans. One of the most acclaimed examples of this comes from 2011 when Howard Stern was watching his Private Parts movie on HBO and decided to live tweet insider commentary on the movie. Stern was credited with revolutionizing yet another media platform by providing this information and responding to movie questions from his followers. This was a first for celebrities who tended to use Twitter to peddle the release of upcoming album releases or tour dates (Brown, 2011).
In business, there are the Sterns of Twitter who have adopted and maximized this free platform to reach their constituents. However, most businesses are still far behind. Hopefully the following reasons will give you some incentive to move quickly to establish a strong appreciation for social media and put a plan in place to incorporate it into your communication efforts.
1. Twitter is a relationship building platform
Using Twitter, you can rather quickly establish relationships with your customers and prospects that would take significant time and cost using traditional marketing techniques such as television advertising, print advertising, and direct mail. Leading organizations are using Twitter and other social media platforms to collect feedback on the release of upcoming products, something previously performed by very time consuming and costly focus groups. Companies like the Thomas Cook Group are setting new trends and bringing light to the importance of being continually aware of how social media may be impacting your organization. In April of 2013, they established a 24/7 rapid response social media listening lab. The Thomas Cook Listening Lab, using a specially trained social media listening team provides real-time global brand reputation management, listening in over 180 languages about “chatter” around their brands (Thomas Cook, n.d.). And this group is not stopping at just brand management. As noted by Jonathan Roberts, Global Head of Social Media for Thomas Cook Group, they are using their new response lab to identify marketing opportunities as well. Roberts notes “through the Listening Lab we now have the ability to target a specific customer base, for example if we want to target people in London who have recently tweeted, “I need a holiday”, we now have the tools to reach out to those people and make an informed pitch based on their online social profile; revealing their age, gender and likes and dislikes” (Thomas Cook. n.d.).
2. You may not be on Twitter, but you can be sure your customers and competitors are
Social media after all is “social”. That means that your customers, especially the unhappy ones, are taking to Twitter to express their unhappiness with your products and/or services to anyone in the world who will listen. Companies that are not responding to such complaints, are likely to suffer brand damage. However, with your commitment to social media platforms like Twitter, you can quickly diffuse potential problems before they go viral. Consider an unhappy tweet by a JetBlue flyer who decided to let the world know about it. This user was smart enough to use a JetBlue “hash tag” so that anyone interested in JetBlue could see this tweet. Repeated tweets like this could easily sway other Twitter users to try one of the many JetBlue competitors. Luckily, JetBlue has a 24/7 social media team and quickly responded with information about the traveler’s flight. If your company is not on Twitter, how many tweets like this would be needed before you saw an impact to your sales? Probably not nearly as many as you think (Sprung, 2013).
3. With an estimated $12 billion IPO, you should know about this technology
Unlike many other highly touted IPOs, Twitter is backed with strong sales and revenue. For Q3 in 2013, they saw their revenues double to $168 million and 2014 revenues are expected to top $1 billion (De La Merced & Vindu, 2013). Companies, maybe yours but definitely your competitors, are spending advertising dollars on Twitter. The reason advertising sales may be so high is that 79 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to recommend brands since becoming a follower compared to Facebook. Additionally, 67 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to buy the brands they follow (Schaefer, 2012, p. 26).
So go out and get the the knowledge needed to gain that appreciation for Twitter and the other social media platforms and then incorporate it into every area of your business. Finding this knowledge can be very easy, start by going to your competitors’ Twitter pages.
Brown, L. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/howard-stern-revolutionizes-media-again-live-tweets-private-parts-with-fans
De La Merced, M. & Vindu, G. (2013). Twitter sets I.P.O. price at $17 to $20 a share. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/twitter-said-to-be-close-to-unveiling-price-range-for-i-p-o/?_r=0
Schaefer, M. (2012). The tao of twitter. New York, NY: McGrawHill
Sprung, R. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/exceptional-customer-service-on-twitter/
“Thomas Cook”. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2013 from http://news.cision.com/thomas-cook-group/r/thomas-cook-group-launches-24-7-rapid-response-social-media-listening-lab,c9406178