T W I T TE R F O R B U S I N E S S
Marketing Management III Assignment
Biju D [MS09A009] | Krishnan G [MS09A022] | Sriram V [MS09A074] | Vino Thomas [MS09A063]
Twitter, founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in
March 2006 (launched publicly in July 2006), is a social networking
and micro-blogging service that allows users to post their latest General Information
updates. An update is limited by 140 characters and can be posted Website twitter.com
through three methods: web form, text message, or instant message.
The company has been busy adding features to the product
like Gmail import and search. They recently launched a new site Twitter @twitter
section called “Explore” for external and third party tools that Category Consumer Web
interact with Twitter and a new visualization tool called Twitter Email email@example.com
Blocks. Employees 140
The service was started by Obvious Corp, who also started Odeo. Founded 3/06
In April 2008 Twitter launched Twitter Japan in partnership
Description networking and
with Digital Garage.
MILESTONES San Francisco, USA
795 Folsom St., Suite 600
• Twitter added Ali Rowghani as CFO. (2/10/10) San Francisco, CA, 94107
• Twitter received $5.17M in Series E funding. (1/8/10)
• Twitter added Othman Laraki as Director. (1/1/10)
• Twitter acquired Mixer Labs for $5.2M. (12/23/09)
• Twitter received $100M in Series D funding. (9/25/09)
• Twitter received $35M in Series C funding. (2/13/09)
• Twitter acquired Values of n. (11/24/08)
• Twitter acquired Summize. (7/15/08)
• Twitter hires Rudy Winnacker and John Adams, two new Operation Engineers
• Twitter partners with Summize to cover Apple news. (6/9/08)
• Twitter survives iPhone 3G Stevenote (6/9/08)
• Twitter launches a status blog to communicate to users better about issues with the
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• Twitter starts Blacklisting Spammers (5/7/08)
• Twitter received $15M in Series B funding. (5/8/08)
• Twitter VP Lee Mighdoll Leaves Twitter (4/24/08)
• Twitter Chief Architect Blaine Cook Leaves Twitter (4/23/08)
THE STORY BEHIND TWITTER
Twitter began in a "daylong brainstorming session" that was held by board members of
the podcasting company Odeo in an attempt to break a creative slump. During that
meeting, Jack Dorsey introduced the idea of an individual using a SMS service to communicate
with a small group, a concept partially inspired by the SMS group messaging service TXTMob.
The working name was just "Status" for a while. It actually didn’t have a name. We were trying to
name it, and mobile was a big aspect of the product early on ... We liked the SMS aspect, and how you
could update from anywhere and receive from anywhere.
We wanted to capture that in the name — we wanted to capture that feeling: the physical sensation that
you’re buzzing your friend’s pocket. It’s like buzzing all over the world. So we did a bunch of name-
storming, and we came up with the word "twitch," because the phone kind of vibrates when it moves. But
"twitch" is not a good product name because it doesn’t bring up the right imagery. So we looked in the
dictionary for words around it, and we came across the word "twitter," and it was just perfect. The
definition was "a short burst of inconsequential information," and "chirps from birds." And that’s
exactly what the product was. —Jack Dorsey
The original product name or codename for the service was twttr, inspired by Flickr and the fact
that American SMS short codes are five characters. The developers initially experimented with
"10958″ as a short code, though later changed it to "40404″ for "ease of use and memorability."
Work on the project started on March 21, 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter
message at 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST): "just setting up my twttr".
The first Twitter prototype was used as an internal service for Odeo employees, later launching
publicly into a full-scale version in July 2006. In October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams,
Dorsey and other members of Odeo formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and all of
its assets—including Odeo.com and Twitter.com—from the investors and other shareholders.
Twitter later spun off into its own company in April 2007.
The tipping point for Twitter's popularity was the 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival.
During the event usage went from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000. "The Twitter people cleverly
placed two 60-inch plasma screens in the conference hallways, exclusively streaming Twitter
messages," remarked Newsweek's Steven Levy. "Hundreds of conference-goers kept tabs on
each other via constant twitters. Panelists and speakers mentioned the service, and the bloggers
in attendance touted it. Soon everyone was buzzing and posting about this new thing that was
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sort of instant messaging and sort of blogging and maybe even a bit of sending a stream of
telegrams." Reaction at the festival was overwhelmingly positive. Laughing Squid blogger Scott
Beale said Twitter "absolutely rul[ed]" SXSW. Social software researcher Danah Boyd said
Twitter "own[ed]" the festival. Twitter staff accepted their prize for the festival's Web Award
with the remark "we'd like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!"
In total, Twitter has raised over US$57 million from venture capitalists. The exact amounts of
funding have not been publicly released. Twitter's first round of funding was for an undisclosed
amount that is rumored to have been between $1 million and $5 million. Its B round of funding
in 2008 was for $22 million and its C round of funding in 2009 was for $35 million from
Institutional Venture Partners and Benchmark Capital along with an undisclosed amount from
other investors including Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital and Insight Venture Partners.
Twitter is backed by Union Square Ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital, and Bezos
The Industry Standard has remarked that Twitter's long-term viability is limited by a lack of
revenue. Twitter board member Todd Chaffee forecast that the company could make money
from e-commerce noting that many users may want to buy items directly from Twitter since they
already use it to get product recommendations and since companies already use it to promote
Some of Twitter's documents covering revenue and user growth were published on TechCrunch
after they were retrieved by the hacker, Croll Hacker. These contained internal projections that
in 2009 they would have revenues of $400,000 in the third quarter (Q3) and $4 million in the
fourth quarter (Q4) along with 25 million users at the end of the year. The projections for the
end of 2013 were $1.54 billion in revenue, $111 million in net earnings, and 1 billion users. No
information about how Twitter plans to achieve those numbers has been published. Biz Stone
published a blog post suggesting legal action for revealing the details was a possibility.
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RATIONALE OF STARTING TWITTER
Jack Dorsey’s vision of SMS based Social Network
According to Jack Dorsey Twitter did not happen out of thin air and land in a branch, it has its
conceptual roots in the world of vehicle dispatch where cars and bikes around the town
constantly update to one another about their whereabouts and what they are up to. It was when
Dorsey visualized the vehicle dispatch system through the eyes of social, mobile Web where
anyone can update their whereabouts and status the big idea of Twitter was born.
The most distinguishing aspect of Twitter is its ability to locate at a glance what one’s friends are
up to or they say they are up to. Even though an Instant Messenger could provide people with a
similar service, but IM is bound to a computer and thereby limits excitement of messaging.
Twitter on the other hand provides people the facility to do real time update from anywhere in
the world thereby making instant messaging more active and lively. The above picture was an
extrapolation of this concept as envisioned by Jack. This document later went on to be the basis
for the Web’s most rapidly growing information channel and micro messaging service called
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The other factor that led to the creation of Twitter is lack of availability of low cost electronic
device during early 2000’s which could be used to send instant messages and help people to in
touch with each other. By 2006 SMS had become popular throughout US and this further drove
the idea of coming up with an application which people could use from any location at any time
to communicate using short and crisp messages.
Another important aspect of Twitter is that it facilitates the process of following. In Twitter one
does not follow a person, but you follow what a person produce or state. Twitter does not
position itself as a social networking website as there is no social pressure of having to call others
friends or relatives as one does not deal with them at a personal level but deal with what they
Twitter also plays an important role in news gathering and news creation. When you have a mass
of people updating or discussing about a particular thing there is a trend being created. This
shows the immediacy and relevancy of the discussions and keeps people updated about what is
happening with the masses.
Initially the name of the service was “Status”, but in process of conveying the purpose, feeling
and relevance of the service to people the name was changed as Twitter. The dictionary meaning
of Twitter is “a short burst of inconsequential information”. Twittering also refers to the sound
birds make to communicate with each other. Bird tweets sounds meaningless to humans, on the
same line a lot of messages shared between the sender and receiver would look meaningless to a
third person, but that can convey a lot of message between sender and the recipient. Twitter was
one such platform which people used to share messages using several notations that helped them
keep it short.
So Twitter as envisioned by its creators is a new way to communicate and interact with people.
At the same time it also gives exposure to what is happening in the world and keeps people
around the world connected. Twitter being an open-ended tool for communication people are
given the liberty to make of it whatever they wish. They seek value and they add value to the
tool, people are given the liberty whom to listen and whom to follow. This makes this service
more users centric.
WHY 140 CHARACTERS?
The creators of Twitter must have believed that brevity is the soul of wit meaning few words are the
essence of intelligence. The art of communication is in conveying a message in short and sweet
Twitter’s evolution was really inspired by SMS; the constraint of 140 characters was borrowed
from SMS. SMS from basic phones are limited to 160 characters before they are split into 2
messages. So to minimize the hassle and thinking around receiving a message without having
them split this restriction of 140 characters was imposed. 20 characters were kept aside for the
user name and 140 characters for the content of the message.
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Being inherently designed on SMS length limitation ensures that Twitter works well on all mobile
devices. It’s one of the few social services that essentially work just as effectively on your phone
as on the web interface. This puts Twitter ahead of all its competitors in mobile social services
like foursquare and brightkite etc. The simplicity of Twitter makes it abundantly usable on the
go. People do not have to use complex formatting standards, no rich media compatibilities to
overcome, no pagination.
Creative limitations are good as they make people reflect and edit the material before sharing it
with the recipients. This helps in ensuring that people are thrifty and utilize the limited resource
available in most efficient manner. The effort of trying to communicate something meaningful
with short allotment of human language can be a valuable mental exercise that helps you to hone
the ability to communicate short and sweet manner with fellow humans.
Social networking these days has become an obligation to read the never ending torrent of RSS
feeds, overflowing inbox and Facebook messages. Twitter from this perspective is a low
obligation tool as it neither forces people to read each and every tweet nor go back and read the
tweets one miss. The message conveyed being small the social expectation around the message
being read is less which makes communication more refreshing.
The signal to noise ratio in tweets is fairly less compared to that on a blog or a long email. Often
it is after reading half of blog that you realize it was not worth reading it. The opportunity cost
involved in reading long and uninteresting messages is very less in case of Twitter. The content
length being low the probability of having banal messages in Twitter is also very less.
There are apprehensions regarding Twitter hastening the decline of the civilization. Concerns
have been raised on future generations being malformed with SMS abbreviations and 140
character chunk that in turn could prove to be a death of the language commonly known. But
just as Televisions have not killed Radio and internet has not killed printed media we can believe
keeping it short does not necessarily mean killing the long. Short form of expression turns out to
be extremely effective distribution method for long. The imposed brevity on Twitter makes it a
nice place to hang around. The answer to the question if 140 characters enough for tweets would
be another question “Would Twitter be twice good and beneficial if the owners raise the level cap to 280?”
TWITTER FOR MARKETING
The microblogging site Twitter is the latest sensation in the internet world, initially started as a
tool for staying connected with friends by knowing what they are doing it has grown to find
many purposes. One such purpose which we will be concentrating in this article is its usage by
companies to stay up-to-date with the latest news about their businesses.
Companies are using twitter as a cheap advertising channel to stay connected with their
customers, employees, new and prospective clients and job seekers. It is also being used as an
effective tool for building the company’s brand awareness, informing about new product lines
and advertising of products. Many of the retailers are using twitter to inform their customers
about exciting offers that they run.
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Having said the above it is not that all the companies are using twitter in the same/all the ways
mentioned above, some of them use it for advertising others let their employees tweet and listen,
while others use twitter to keep a track of their reputation and public opinion about their
company. In brief there are four ways in which companies use twitter for marketing they are:
Companies using twitter as marketing or a public relations channel, much like an extension to
their corporate blogs, they will post blogs about important news, announcements, and exciting
offers and many a times they post a link which will route the user to the company’s home page.
The message that the company is delivering should come out with a personal touch or should be
phrased well; otherwise it will be treated as a bunch of self-serving, self-promotional tweets.
Now let us look at the tweeting history of a company using twitter in direct way.
Company - Kingfisher Airlines @flykingfisher
Here is an advertisement about the “Teen Patti” contest by kingfisher, it provides a link in the
first tweet which routes the user to the contest web page, let us look at another example in which
kingfisher tweets about the introduction of a new Door-to-Door cargo delivery service across
major cities. The example is as show below,
Apart from these, important tweets company news like induction of a new personal into the
board, retweets from followers praising the service of kingfisher is displayed, here’s one shown
This method of direct tweeting by companies in building brand, bringing awareness to new
services brought out by them is increasing and more and more Indian companies are using
twitter for this form of communication.
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The second method in which companies tweet is by letting their employees tweet rather than
they tweeting. By this way the companies let employees enhance their repute through a proxy.
Employees twittering away with excitement about their work, developments in their industry,
new products, or other interesting tidbits, even if unrelated to the company itself, can promote
positive feelings for whichever business they (indirectly) represent. Another reason may be to
promote their employees as influential leaders. A classic example of this is Forrester Research
which has a home page for twitter
This page give the twitter links of various analysts of the company, the employees of these
company enhance the company’s image due to their tweeting. A snapshot of the CIO’s Twitter
page is shown below:
While this method has its positive side, this method also has an equally or even bigger negative
side, where employees tweet about the negativities in the company, this can harm the reputation
of the company. A classic example of this is the series of tweets from an employee of Yahoo!
Who was tweeting about the lay-offs in the company, an excerpt from her tweet is as shown
• I checked the employee directory and a couple of people are gone from the East coast that I know. About
2 hours ago from web
• They have pretty pre-printed signs on doors of the rooms where they are telling people unlike the red
sharpie signs from the last round. About 2 hours ago from web
• Five people I trained were cut in NY, none from Boston. One girl in NY that started at the same time
as me also got the axe. About 2 hours ago from web
Some companies use internally to communicate with other employees about the projects that
they are working on or to share ideas, but while sharing ideas of this nature it is very important
that the idea remains confidential. This kind of communication while theoretically possible is not
often encouraged by employers. There are other tools to micro-blog of this nature, the most
commonly used ones are the “Yammer” and “present.ly”. A screenshot of the private micro
blogging site Yammer is as shown below:
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Many companies rather prefer to be active Twitter listeners than Twitter participants. By using
tools like search.twitter.com and tweetdeck companies are able to keep a track of what is being
told about them, their products or even the industry as a whole
Smart companies are tuning in to these micro-conversations to get early warnings of problems
and to collect feedback on product issues or ideas. Shown below is a snapshot of Twitter-trend
tracking service called Twendz, this tool goes beyond simple Twitter searches to tracking
sentiments as well.
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The snapshot above is just one metric of the many others which serve as a feedback for the
company, if there is a company tweet on a new product development then based on the emotion
generated the company can make changes suitably. If the public emotion is positive then it is one
more reason for the company to proceed, if the emotion is negative then it is a reason for the
company to introspect.
How Companies feed into twitter?
There are a number of ways in which companies feed their data in twitter; while a lot of them
use the Twitter web some of them used interfaces like TweetDeck, HootSuite etc. Companies
also use mobile interfaces like UberTwitter, Dabr etc. Interestingly out of the 101+ Indian
brands using Twitter almost all of the media companies used Facebook pages.
Facebook pages is an interesting application of Facebook, this lets people to be connected not
only with fans in facebook but also has an interface that connects it with Twitter.
Wikipedia below gives the share of various methods through which people use Twitter for
Main Twitter website 46.79% Cross-platform
TweetDeck 8.48% Cross-platform
Tweetie 2.83% Mac OS X, iPhone OS
Twitterrific 1.63% Mac OS X, iPhone OS
Seesmic Desktop 1.11% Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
OpenBeak (formerly TwitterBerry) 0.99% BlackBerry OS
HootSuite 0.63% Cross-platform web application
twhirl 0.40% Cross-platform
OrSiSo NA Cross-platform
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HOW INDIA INC IS USING TWITTER?
As part of the assignment, we followed nearly 25 Indian companies in Twitter and tried to
analyse how they perform in this social networking site. We chose the companies from different
domains and below are the comprehensive list of 6 companies and brief description on how the
employ Twitter for their business purposes.
Bharti Airtel is the largest cellular service provider in India, with more
than 110 million subscribers. Bharti, the sixth-largest integrated telecom
operator offers fixed line services and broadband services in India and
AirtelKerala, AirtelKK, AirtelGujarat, AirtelKolkatta, AirtelSrilanka,
airtelcallhome airtelCLT20, Airtelbroadband, Airtelnews
• Announcements on latest call packages, offers and plans.
• All customer queries answered.
How they use it? • Latest news on Bharti Airtel (Including the latest Zain deal details,
contract with Nokia Siemens).
• Tweets in regional languages too.
2-3 tweets per week
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Deccan Chargers is the franchise that represents the city of Hyderabad in
Company details the Indian Premier League. They are the current holders of the IPL
Trophy, winning the second season held in South Africa in 2009.
Twitter Account(s) ChargersHome
• Team news
• Exclusive discounts on team merchandise
• Team members tweeting fans directly
How they use it?
• Trivial news about the team players
• Conducting polls among fans
• Photo previews (photos of team with IPL trophy)
Posts done through Facebook
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Cleartrip is an Indian company that permits online booking of flight
tickets and hotels. The company's products include search and booking
for domestic and International flights, search and booking for over 5,500
domestic hotels and 109,000 international hotels, Railway Tickets, holiday
packages, insurance and mobile services for travel and global destination
Twitter Account(s) Cleartrip
• General News
• Getting feedback from customers
• Suggestion/Clarification on how to use their service (ex. How to
signup, How to avail offers, How to get printout of the booked
How they use it?
• Receiving customer complaints
• Registering testimonials of satisfied customers
• Thanking customers for their feedback and references
Posts done through Web interface
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Dell India is the subsidiary of Dell Inc., the multinational information
Company details technology corporation that develops, sells and supports personal
computers and other computer-related products, as a merchant.
Twitter Account(s) DellHomeSalesIn
• Latest news on customization of their products
• Specification and price details of their new laptop offerings
How they use it? • Exclusive pictures of their new products
• Re-tweets from customers
• Store details
Posts done through TweetDeck
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Fastrack is the brand from Tata stable selling sunglasses and watches
Company details targeting the young Indians. Positioned as the India's most loved youth
Twitter Account(s) Fastrack
• News on latest products with pics
• Details of offers, discounted sales
How they use it? • Replies to customers on their queries regarding product and other
• Links to their home page
3-4 tweets per week
Posts done through TweetDeck
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Company details Kingfisher beer is an Indian Beer brewed by United Breweries Group.
With a market share of 34%, it is India's largest selling beer and is
currently available in 52 countries outside India.
Twitter Account(s) kingfisherworld
How they use it? • Promoting their product
• Re-tweeting/Sharing the nice experience of their consumers
• Sharing party photos from flickr, picasa of their customers which goes
well with their tagline - Enjoy the King of Good Times
Frequency of Everyday
Posts done through TweetDeck
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Twitter has given a new face to the marketing activities through social networks. From February
2008 to February 2009, it clocked in at a whopping 1,382 percent growth rate. No marketer can
miss this opportunity lying online and should use twitter as a channel to target their audience.
We conclude the search into Twitter with few notes.
• Instead of approaching Twitter as a place to broadcast information about the company, think
of it as a place to build relationships.
• Listen regularly for comments about the company, brand and products—and be prepared to
address concerns, offer customer service or thank people for praise.
• Ask questions, float ideas and solicit feedback through Twitter.
• When people raise customer service issues on Twitter, they generally expect a quick reply—
within a day, if not within a few hours, depending on the nature of your business.
• Using Twitter as a new marketing medium is never a big investment, but if used well it can
reap big benefits.
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