Twitter x-factors

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  • 1. INTRODUCTION From its 140-character limit to unprecedented access to celebrities, Twitter can do things that other mediums simply can’t. Its unique audience increased nearly 1,400% from February 2008 to 2009, and 5% of U.S. online consumers are Twitter FOLLOWERS, FOLLOWING at least one brand or company. Although Twitter’s active user base remains significantly smaller than other social networking sites like Facebook, approximately 11.5 million U.S. consumers use Twitter on a daily basis. And these daily Twitter users are the most passionate and influential online consumers. They play an undeniable role in the online ecosystem—and specifically—YOUR bottom line. Inside this report, you’ll learn: • The five x-factors that make Twitter one-of-a-kind • Why Twitter users choose to engage with brands via this channel • How to interact with your customers on Twitter • The strengths and weaknesses of Twitter—according to your customers From influence and accessibility to interaction and versatility, Twitter is unlike any other social networking community. And when all five of Twitter’s x-factors combine, the result is an Twitter users are the online environment that rivals an exclusive members-only club—while only a small percentage of people are likely to show up on a regular basis, their influence on the most influential online larger online culture is undeniable, even enviable. The conversations that take place on Twitter fuel discussions across all areas of the internet—from blogs and forums to consumers, and their product reviews and coupon sites—which influence both Twitter and non-Twitter users alike. Twitter talks, and it’s Tweeting about your brand. By revealing influence spreads across all areas of the internet. Twitter’s x-factors, we’ll help you understand this unique communication channel, so you can develop an integrated marketing strategy that will work across all online channels. 2 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 2. “The conversations that take place on Twitter fuel discussions across all areas of the internet–from blogs and forums to product reviews and coupon sites–which influence both Twitter and non-Twitter users alike.” © 2010 ExactTarget 3
  • 3. X-FACTOR 1 INFLUENCE Twitter’s ability to influence a brand’s reputation—and This is compared to only 58% of occasional Twitter its bottom line—extends far beyond the Twitter website. users who say they’re selective about whom they Because its flexible API allows third parties to easily choose to FOLLOW. build applications on top of its infrastructure, it makes FOLLOWERS REPRESENT THE MOST sense that only a fraction of Tweets are read directly on INFLUENTIAL ONLINE CONSUMERS, AND Twitter.com. But in addition to third-party applications THEIR TWITTER USE IS ON THE RISE. such as CoTweet™—that provide a different interface into the Twitter community—this API streams Tweets When it comes to identifying a group of consumers who are into other online forums like blogs and corporate sites. most likely to impact your brand’s online reputation, get to And this is just the beginning of Twitter’s power to know your Twitter FOLLOWERS. These consumers are three influence a brand across the entire internet. Twitter times more likely than the average consumer to publish to a has the power to impact your image, reputation, blog at least once per month (53% compared to 18%), and the and business (for better or for worse) across all content might mention your brand. From submitting product interactive channels. reviews and commenting on news stories to participating in discussion forums and maintaining personal websites, Here are some reasons why Twitter’s influence is undeniable: FOLLOWERS represent the most influential online consumer. ACTIVE TWITTER USERS WANT TO And while many passive Twitter users are decreasing their INFLUENCE OTHERS. use of this channel, the highly-influential daily Twitter users (a.k.a. Megaphones—download The Social Profile for more Many Twitter users are drawn to this channel because information) continue to increase their use. These consumers they see an opportunity to influence others. Overall, blog, comment, write online articles, and post to wikis more only 14% say they want to get as many FOLLOWERS often than any other online consumer. as possible. And this statistic increases to 28% for daily Twitter users. While passive or occasional Twitter TWITTER’S REACH GOES BEYOND TWITTER. users aren’t typically counting their number of Believe it or not, Twitter’s reach is approximately double its FOLLOWERS, daily Twitter consumers are counting, active user base. In total, 23% of online consumers read and they’re continually looking for ways to increase Tweets at least monthly. And while 12% of online consumers their level of influence. have created a profile in order to participate on Twitter, Of those daily Twitter users who do want to accumulate another 11% say they read other people’s Tweets even a large Twitter audience, 73% say they’re very selective though they haven’t created a Twitter account of their own. about who they choose to FOLLOW—more than any Whether Tweets are read directly on Twitter.com, through other group of consumers. They’re more likely to limit search results on Google, or on a Tweet stream through a the number of people they choose to follow in order third-party site, the voices of Twitter participants will be heard to keep their Twitter stream from becoming cluttered. across all online channels. 4 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 4. A TALE 18% 71% 10% Megaphone OF TWO 14% 65% 21% Social Butterfly TWITTERS 13% 63% 24% Open Book 10% 62% 28% Info Seeker As its rates of user attrition indicate, Twitter as a communication channel OVER THE PAST SIX MONTHS, ARE YOU is not for everyone. Interestingly, USING TWITTER MORE OFTEN, ABOUT THE however, the very traits that tend SAME, OR LESS OFTEN? to keep some consumers MORE SAME LESS from Tweeting—like speed, volume, or chaotic nature of Twitter’s information flow— 20% 51% 29% Gamer are what make Twitter valuable as a real-time information source. 14% 57% 29% Business First The real-time data produced by the 13% 54% 33% Enthusiast Twitter ecosystem is simply unparalleled. Thanks to the indexing of Tweets by 8% 59% 33% Shopper search engines and syndication through Twitter’s API, Twitter reaches more than 11% 54% 35% News Junkie two times its user base. And it’s growing. As a result, Twitter doesn’t need to worry 10% 55% 36% Deal seeker about high attrition rates among average consumers, as long as it continues to 9% 54% 37% Inner Circle attract passionate consumers who use 10% 45% 45% Cautious this channel to organize and express information for the benefit of all. In other words, it’s not just FOLLOWERS who are listening to Twitter. Search engines listen as well. And the more this “While many passive Twitter users are decreasing their becomes understood in every discipline use of this channel, highly-influential online consumers and interest, the more Twitter will see its ranks fill with the right types of users— continue to increase their use. These consumers blog, influencers who drive the value of the real-time web. comment, write online articles, and post to wikis more often than any other online consumer.” © 2010 ExactTarget 5
  • 5. X-FACTOR 2 BREVITY When communicating via Twitter, short and sweet is the only option, since messages cannot exceed 140 characters. And according to Twitter users, this character limit has its advantages. When asked, “What’s the best thing about Twitter,” most consumers agree that it facilitates quick and concise communication. Just as texting is often short and limited, Twitter also forces users—marketers and consumers alike—to immediately get to the point. To summarize in 140 characters or less, brevity is the key to mastering Twitter. Despite the character limits, the content of any given Twitter message is the most important element. Unlike other social media sites, Twitter lacks add-ons, such as games or photos albums, reducing user distraction. So regardless of their primary objective—from catching up on celebrity happenings, reading about event reviews, or looking for their favorite brand’s product information—users easily remain focused. As a result, consumers are less worried about losing unproductive hours on Twitter, as they often are when using popular sites like Facebook. Consumers celebrate Twitter for its conciseness, and they approach this channel with real-time expectations. They want to know what’s going on, right now. And these expectations provide unique opportunities for marketers. If you’re looking for creative ways to engage your customers on Twitter, try real-time giveaways and contests. Many brands use these methods to engage with their customers, and consumers enjoy the entertaining aspect of these messages, especially if they’re already looking for deals and promotions on Twitter. “The best thing about Twitter is that it’s quicker than email. I can take care of what I need to and immediately be done and logged off.” –Kevin, 33, St. Louis, MO 6 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 6. “Anything that’s fast-paced makes sense on Twitter.” –Hannah, 27, New Orleans, LA “Twitter is perfect when you want short and sweet.” –Nathan, 19, Birmingham, AL © 2010 ExactTarget 7
  • 7. X-FACTOR 3 ACCESSIBILITY The Twitter community allows unprecedented access to people’s ACCESS TO BREAKING NEWS AND CURRENT EVENTS everyday lives, from celebrities and politicians to news anchors From the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ and the 2009 Iran elections and professional athletes. And unlike ever before, people can to the 2010 World Cup and the final episode of Lost, Twitter has communicate with these fellow Twitter users, across all provided front-row access to breaking news, current events, socioeconomic, geographic, and social boundaries. The open and pop culture. As users Tweet about what’s happening in connections made possible by this channel allow any member the world, others respond—regardless of their location. And of the Twitter community to communicate with any other user— the ability for consumers to participate with others in a real- regardless of who they might be. time forum about these events has turned once-skeptic Twitter ACCESS TO CELEBRITIES users into active, daily users. Celebrities have always been in the Twitter spotlight, drawing ACCESS TO CORPORATE REPRESENTATIVES thousands of FOLLOWERS. From the highly-publicized “race We asked study participants whether they would rather FOLLOW to 1,000,000 FOLLOWERS” between Ashton Kutcher and CNN their favorite brands through a branded corporate account or to LeBron James’ accrual of more than 150,000 FOLLOWERS via an individual representing the brand. Overwhelmingly, within the first seven hours of his presence on Twitter, consumers prefer branded accounts over individual consumers are interested in connecting with their favorite employee accounts. Why? Consumers simply believe that celebrities via this medium. branded accounts are more reliable sources of information since But these consumers aren’t FOLLOWING celebrities simply to the individuals behind them are acting in their professional roles show support. They want to interact and get to know the real on behalf of the company. However, consumers still appreciate personalities behind the celebrity. For example, FOLLOWERS of knowing who’s behind the branded account. For example, NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal (@THE_REAL_SHAQ) know that @ford identifies the people who write its corporate Tweets if they ask him a question on Twitter, there’s a good chance he’ll by using a contributor tag, such as “^SM” for Scott Monty, the respond directly. Similarly, comedian Daniel Tosh (@danieltosh), head of social media at Ford Motor Company. host of Comedy Central’s Tosh.0, responds directly to hundreds The only clear exception to this rule is when the individual of FOLLOWERS during broadcasts. There’s no other forum— account belongs to a high-ranking executive or notable online or offline—where ordinary citizens have access to the personality within the company. Because consumers feel that world’s most famous celebrities. Where else can you access a these individuals can easily implement change, they appreciate celebrity as famous as Shaq, without waiting in line for hours or the opportunity to interact with them directly. encountering bodyguards and publicists? 8 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 8. “There’s no other forum—online or offline—where ordinary citizens have access to the world’s most famous celebrities.” © 2010 ExactTarget 9
  • 9. X-FACTOR 4 INTERACTION In many ways, interaction goes hand-in-hand with WHAT CONSUMERS WANT WHEN accessibility. But unless you’re a celebrity, most Twitter INTERACTING WITH BRANDS ON TWITTER users view one another as equals—including brands. And No two consumers are alike, meaning that each individual consumers interpret a brand’s presence on Twitter as Twitter user harbors their own motivations for interacting online that company’s commitment to interact with them. As a with brands. However, common themes for why consumers result, they expect brands to be available for real-time choose to interact with brands on Twitter emerged throughout communications and timely responses. the course of our study. Reasons included: WHY CONSUMERS SEEK BRAND • To obtain new, authentic perspectives on companies INTERACTIONS ON TWITTER and to find out what they really stand for. 20% of consumers indicate that they’ve started FOLLOWING • To receive insider information about upcoming a brand in order to interact with that company. And while this products and services. Many consumers who percentage is low in relation to other motivations cited for FOLLOW representatives of a brand—and not the FOLLOWING brands on Twitter (see page 13), it’s important brand’s corporate Twitter account—hope that important to consider that all nine of the more common motivations information might be leaked. we identified involve consumers seeking information from a company. Nevertheless, consumers are much more likely to • To get to know the personalities behind a company. FOLLOW brands on Twitter in order to interact than they For example, if a B2B company is deciding whether are to become email SUBSCRIBERS or Facebook FANS. or not to purchase from a supplier, Twitter is useful in helping them get a behind-the-scenes look at who runs Young consumers are more likely to FOLLOW a brand on Twitter the company. so they can offer feedback and suggestions. Additionally, while the ability to interact with brands has motivated 29% of men • To receive freebies, samples, and discounts, which to FOLLOW a company, only 13% of women have chosen to are sometimes offered to consumers in exchange for FOLLOW a brand for this reason. And the ability to interact their input. with brands is particularly important for consumers whose primary motivation for online interactions is game-related. • To see how a company responds when its brand These ‘Gamers’ (see The Social Profile, SUBSCRIBERS, is publically criticized. Both individuals with Twitter FANS, & FOLLOWERS Report #3) view Twitter as both a accounts and those without often keep tabs on source of information for upcoming game releases and a way companies to see if they’d want to support that brand. to connect with others about existing games. 10 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 10. CUSTOMER SERVICE AND TWITTER: Contrary to early speculation that social media would emerge as a strong Ensure Twitter customer service representatives have full customer support channel, most consumers who participated in our focus 1 corporate support. To be successful, these representatives need to groups preferred to keep customer service issues out of the public domain— be empowered to rectify issues quickly. This is especially important because considering it tacky, rude, and selfish when these issues are publically aired. other consumers are watching and forming opinions about your brand based Less than 1% of Twitter users say they would first contact a brand about its on how you respond to customer service issues. product or service problems via Twitter, and only 5% would use Twitter as a Partner Twitter customer service with traditional customer secondary means of communication when reporting an issue. 2 support. Because not all consumers want to resolve their Instead, consumers view Twitter as an escalation point when other means customer service issues in the same way, you need solid strategies for of customer service communication are not working. As one research both Twitter and traditional customer support. Poor frontline customer participant shared, “If I don’t get the support I need through phone or email, service has the potential to create public relations crises for your brand I use Facebook and Twitter to voice my complaint, since a ton of people will on Twitter, so make sure that representatives understand the increasing see it. The company can’t ignore me then!” As this comment reveals, by the significance of ‘first-call resolution’—even if it’s at the expense of time customer service issues make it to social media, it’s often an indication increased call length. Additionally, make sure you have a strategy for of prior failures. how to quickly resolve customer service issues once they reach your main Twitter stream. So how should marketers balance Twitter communications with customer service issues? While the vast majority of consumers don’t initially turn to Focus on diagnosing the root cause of customer dissatisfaction. Twitter for customer support, some do! And their impact on your brand’s 3 Always try to determine if early attempts to resolve an issue failed when reputation can be powerful, especially if initial attempts to resolve their consumers express their dissatisfaction with your brand online. Diagnosing customer service issues have been unsatisfactory. Thinking of Twitter as a the root cause can protect your brand’s online reputation and when handled second or third tier of customer support will help you meet their needs. well, can strengthen ties with traditional customer support teams. How do you manage your customer service interactions on Twitter? © 2010 ExactTarget 11
  • 11. X-FACTOR 5 VERSATILITY When trying to identify why consumers choose to engage with brands on Twitter, we asked study participants to tell us which brands they felt did the best job of communicating via this channel. And unlike similar questions posed for email and Facebook, no clear patterns emerged. Additionally, when asked why they choose to FOLLOW particular brands, 31% of consumers say they want to stay informed about a company’s activities, and 30% of consumers say they FOLLOW brands to receive updates on future products. But when you compare these statistics to other channels, Facebook is actually preferred by more consumers when it comes to staying informed about a brand’s activities (34%), and more people use email to receive updates about future products (44%). So what’s the real reason consumers turn to Twitter when it comes to engaging with brands? In short, consumers turn to Twitter for interaction, whereas only 13% of SUBSCRIBERS and 13% of FANS turn to email and Facebook to interact with brands. But that doesn’t mean that interaction is the key to successfully communicating on Twitter. It simply means that there’s no universal reason why consumers choose to engage with marketers like you on Twitter. As a result, Twitter usage is versatile and ever-changing, depending on your target audience and their personal motivations. Some studies have attempted to rank the most influential brands on Twitter, but because consumers’ motivations are so diverse, there’s truly no “right way” for brands to engage with their customers on Twitter. And while this versatility in how consumers use Twitter can add additional challenges for YOU, the marketer, it also provides opportunities for creativity. One thing is abundantly clear: consumers are looking for deeper insight into the personality of your brand, and they believe Twitter is the perfect place to get to know you. HERE’S A TIP: When developing your Twitter marketing strategy, it’s helpful to review case studies, so you can use other companies’ successes as a guide. And remember—Twitter allows you the creative flexibility to truly embrace your brand’s personality, more than any other communication channel. Your customers want—and expect—to get to know you beyond the corporate messaging, and they’ll be looking for your personality to shine on Twitter. Additionally, it’s also helpful to reveal the people behind your brand’s personality, allowing company employees to transparently represent the brand with a personal identification. One thing is abundantly clear: consumers are looking for deeper insight into the personality of your brand, and they believe Twitter is the perfect place to get to know you. 12 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 12. “Twitter is what you make of it. If you FOLLOW interesting people, it’s interesting. If you don’t, it’s boring.” –Daniel, 25, Tacoma, WA WHAT HAS MOTIVATED YOU TO FOLLOW A COMPANY, BRAND, OR ASSOCIATION ON TWITTER? T get updates on future products o 38% T st informed about the activities of a company o ay 32% T receive discounts and promotions o 31% T get updates on upcoming sales o 30% T get a "freebie" (e.g., free samples, coupon) o 28% For fun or entert nment ai 26% T get access to exclusive content o 25% T learn more about the company o 25% T show my support for the company to others o 23% T interact (e.g., share ideas, provide feedback) o 20% For education about company topics 14% Someone recommended it to me 14% So the company could send me a direct message 10% © 2010 ExactTarget 13
  • 13. TWITTER’S ROLE IN THE MARKETING ECOSYSTEM ONE MORE It’s true that Twitter is not for everyone. In our study, The collaboration and sharing that happens on Twitter THING we found that consumers’ opinions about Twitter affects all other areas of the internet, providing fodder are extremely polarized. Some consumers hate it. for blog posts, product reviews, and living room Even more don’t understand it. And in many ways, the conversations alike. And even your consumers who rapid growth of Twitter in 2009 can be misleading. For aren’t active on Twitter are likely to be influenced by example, many average consumers were drawn to join the conversations happening there. To put it simply, Twitter as a result of massive media coverage, only to what happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter. quickly become overwhelmed by the chaos of world- The key to successfully integrating Twitter into your wide, real-time communication. These consumers overall marketing strategy? Don’t approach this didn’t understand the appeal of adding yet another channel as a way to maintain direct relationships with social network to their list of social media activities. the majority of your customers. Instead, commit to For them, Facebook and MySpace seemed adequate. serving your customers who do use Twitter on a But that doesn’t diminish Twitter’s importance in daily basis. They control and influence the content today’s online marketing landscape. In fact, the that others are reading about your brand—which can individuals who do use Twitter are the most directly impact your bottom line. And if you use Twitter influential online consumers that exist—a key appropriately with this important audience, you can add audience for most modern marketers. And it’s depth and character to your customer relationships. important to note that Twitter users don’t isolate their activities to Twitter. These daily Twitter users are voracious online consumers and contributors: “The collaboration and • 72% publish blog posts at least once a month sharing that happens on • 70% comment on others’ blog posts • 61% write at least one product review a month Twitter affects all other areas • 61% comment on news sites of the internet, providing • 56% write articles for third-party sites fodder for blog posts, product • 53% post videos online • 50% make contributions to wiki sites reviews, and living room • 48% share deals found through coupon forums conversations alike.” 14 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 14. 15 10% © 2010 ExactTarget SOCIAL CONTRIBUTION ACTIVITIES (MONTHLY) All Other Consumers 48% Post Coupons 14% 49% Sell Online 7% Post to Wikis 50% 12% Daily Twitter Users Upload Audio 50% 10% 53% Upload Video 10% Upload Articles 56% 13% 59% Update Own Site 15% 61% Comment on News 20% 61% Post Ratings and Reviews 23% 70% Comment on Blogs 14% 72% Blog 25% 75% Post to Forums 27% Upload Photos 76% 38% 80% Comment on Photos or Videos
  • 15. 16 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 16. ACCORDING TO YOUR CONSUMERS: THE STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES OF TWITTER STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES Real-Time Communications/ Repetition: Infrequent Twitter users are baffled by the repetitive 1 Information: Twitter is the fastest 1 nature of some Tweets. They often don’t understand why the same mass communication channel regularly messages are Tweeted continually by certain brands. accessed by consumers, and they Quick Tip: Set up a support account (e.g. @cotweet_support) for customer appreciate the ability to get the information service interactions, keeping your main brand stream (@cotweet) free from they’re looking for in a quick and timely unnecessary clutter. manner. Confusion and Chaos: The biggest reason why consumers don’t use Access: Twitter provides consumers 2 2 with unprecedented access to Twitter? They just don’t understand it. Real-time, frequent messages can often seem chaotic, making Twitter easier to avoid altogether. anyone else who’s a member of the Twitter community. Want to talk to the CMO of Quick Tip: Find out how your customers really feel about Twitter by simply Best Buy? Twitter is the app for that. asking them. When you understand how they prefer to connect with you, you can honor their individual preferences. Community: Some consumers like 3 Overload: Twitter takes a time commitment. And time is precious. the ability to collaborate and learn 3 As one participant shared, “What’s the point? I waste enough of while other consumers appreciate the ability to find the best deals available online. Being my time on social networks. Why should I add another one to the mix?” a part of the Twitter community makes both Quick Tip: If your consumers don’t prefer to communicate via Twitter, of these more possible. don’t force them to. This channel is simply not for everyone. © 2010 ExactTarget 17
  • 17. CUSTOMER SUCCESS HOW WHOLE FOODS DOES TWITTER Whole Foods Market is the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods, with stores throughout North America and the United Kingdom. With a commitment to customer service since its founding in 1980, Whole Foods Market understands the importance of engaging in online conversations with its customers. In June 2008, Whole Foods Market hired Winnie Hsia as the organization’s first Social Media Specialist, to improve the way the company interacts with customers through online channels, including Twitter. When Hsia was hired, Whole Foods Market customers were already engaging in social media. “We knew our customers were already there, and we were ready to join the conversation on Twitter,” Hsia explains. But what began as a modest following of 1,000 followers a month quickly grew to more than 10,000 new followers a day at one point. Hsia soon found it challenging to manage the more than 50+ ongoing customer conversations that were occurring on a daily basis. It became difficult to keep track of questions answered versus those not answered, and that’s when she knew it was time for a new solution. After exploring a variety of tools to help manage its Twitter conversations, Whole Foods Market chose CoTweet. “Compared to other Twitter management tools, CoTweet™ makes it easiest to manage conversations, and can be quickly rolled out to Whole Foods Market stores, so our local marketers feel empowered to engage their customers and communities in conversation,” says Hsia. Through features like multiple accounts/users, conversation threading, and messaging archives, CoTweet helps Whole Foods Market streamline work flow and manage social media communications from customers. “Before CoTweet, my TweetDeck was always full, and I had no mechanism for effectively answering our customers’ questions,” says Hsia. “CoTweet restored the sanity of my job. At the end of day, our goal is to answer customer questions and build relationships, and CoTweet gives us the tools we need to manage those conversations.” Ready to manage YOUR social media conversations? Visit www.cotweet.com to sign-up for a demo of CoTweet’s Enterprise Edition. 18 © 2010 ExactTarget
  • 18. WAIT— THERE’S MORE! In the 5th installment of ExactTarget’s SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research series, we’ll explore Facebook’s x-factors, revealing the unique characteristics of this communication channel. Most modern consumers love Facebook, but not all agree that marketers should be welcome participants. We’ll examine what motivates consumers to engage with brands on Facebook, what companies communicate well via this channel, and specifically, what consumers appreciate about these special companies. To automatically sign up to receive each report as it’s released, visit www.exacttarget.com/sff/ download and select the opt-in button on the download form. © 2010 ExactTarget 19
  • 19. Twitter talks, and it’s Tweeting about your brand. Isn’t it time you joined the conversation? CoTweet™ from ExactTarget has developed the industry’s first comprehensive solution for managing social media marketing on Twitter, making it easy for you to integrate, track, and manage social strategies as part of your larger marketing initiatives. With more than two-thirds of Fortune 100 companies having already established a Twitter presence, top brands like McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Ford, Microsoft, Sprint, and Whole Foods Market rely on CoTweet to efficiently and effectively manage their social media conversations. Ready to easily connect with your customers on Twitter? Sign up for the free public beta at www.cotweet.com/signup today. www. ExactTarget. com www. CoTweet. com This document may not be copied without the prior written consent of ExactTarget. © 2010 ExactTarget.