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Twitter How And Why Australian Businesses Should Start Tweeting

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Twitter How And Why Australian Businesses Should Start Tweeting

Twitter How And Why Australian Businesses Should Start Tweeting

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  • 1. Twitter: How and why Australian businesses should start tweeting What is Twitter? Established in March 2006, Twitter is a micro-blogging website which publishes 140 character updates from its estimated 8 million plus users. The site asks users to post replies to “What are you doing?”, and the resulting updates are instantaneous, text-only, and can be sent from mobile phones, the website itself and third party applications. Users choose other users to “follow”, whose updates appear to them when they log in. Who should use Twitter? Your organisation should considering using Twitter if: • Your products include broadcast news services. Update Twitter with links to your most recent articles and draw users to your website or blog. • You want to be proactive in managing your customer relations. Track what Twitter users are saying about your product and services, and respond quickly to negative feedback. • You want to promote yourself as media-savvy, and attract a similar audience. Use Twitter appropriately as part of your online presence to gather respect and interest. Why should you use Twitter? Twitter offers the opportunity to add further communication and brand management tools to your integrated, assertive and open online presence. Public business-to-consumer interactions, targeted product and service promotion and responsive, proactive management of feedback are all benefits your organisation can realise by creating and operating an account on Twitter. As Twitter increases in popularity (by around 400% in 2008 (source: Twitdir)) and visibility, your account will become even more important in positioning your organisation as forward-thinking, media-savvy and dedicated to communicating with your customers. Some specific reasons for using Twitter follow. 1. Build an online presence. In the 1990s, organisations learned about the importance of having their own website. In the 2000s, the emphasis has shifted beyond a single site, and now social media and social networking sites are immensely popular, and constantly
  • 2. growing. Expanding your online activities beyond a website, into these new sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs, is part of creating an integrated online presence which will be increasingly important as the public moves away from television and print media and towards a fully networked existence. 2. Keep in touch. Use Twitter to keep your admirers, followers and even critics informed about upcoming product releases and conferences or conventions you will be presenting at, and to elicit feedback about new products and services. Create a dialogue with your customers and present an approachable, human face to your organisation. As part of a comprehensive online presence, Twitter helps humanise your organisation and encourage discussion and involvement with your customers. Dissatisfied customers can also be communicated with and a resolution found speedily and publicly. Twitterers who communicate with their audiences: 1. ScottMonty: written by Scott Monty from Ford, 17,237 followers 2. Marvel: written by Ryan Penagos, editor at Marvel.com, 14,679 followers 3. Zappos: written by CEO Tony Hsieh, 381,272 followers 3. Protect your brand. Just like purchasing www.yourname.com, creating accounts under your organisation name, your CEO's name, or even your major product's name, helps protect your online profile. Even if you have no immediate plans to use Twitter, it's a good idea to stay one step ahead – the online world moves so quickly that you may regret your decision to 'wait and see'. Twitter accounts run by someone external to the organisation, and therefore not controlled by the organisation: 1. Disney: Run by Cheri Thomas of California, 276 followers 2. BMW: Written by Brian M. Westbrook, 1,509 followers 3. Hummer: Written by Yuji Yamamoto, 68 followers 4. Stay one step ahead. Although Twitter isn't as popular yet as social networking sites such as Facebook, it is growing, and fast. Twitter accounts increased from approximately 900,000 to 5,000,000 during 2008 (source: Twitdir), web traffic to Twitter.com increased in Australia by 517.9% during 2008 (source: Hitwise), and up to two million updates are posted every day (source: TweetRush). Creating a presence on Twitter after all your
  • 3. competitors have joined and the network has become louder and busier will make it more difficult to attract new followers. Gathering followers now, and benefiting from a likely upsurge in Twitter's popularity and coverage, makes a lot more sense. Australian organisations already on Twitter: 1. Crikey_News: Crikey, started May 12th 2008, now 2,891 followers 2. SuziDafnis: National General Manager of Australian Businesswomen’s Network, started June 21st 2008, now 1,114 followers 3. LMFF: Chair of L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival, Laura Anderson, started February 9th 2009, now 548 followers How should you use Twitter? 1. Reply to your readers. If you want your customers, fans or the general public to continue reading your tweets, you should consider create personalised communication which is directly engaging, even if it seems less “efficient” by requiring consideration of every incoming tweet. Twitter is about being effective, not efficient, and using Twitter effectively involves leveraging the directness it offers between users, rather than risking an automated reply which is insensitive, unhelpful or simply confusing. Twitterers who reply: 1. NeilHimself: Newbery award winning author Neil Gaiman, 178,983 followers 2. Queensland: written by a member of Queensland Tourism, 3,594 followers 3. BigPondTeam: written by a BigPond team, online 9am-6:30pm, M-F, 857 followers 2. Keep informed. Similar to how media monitoring can watch for keywords and alert you to coverage you would otherwise miss, Twitter technology allows you to receive notification of keyword usage by other Twitter users. Twitter is a quick and easy way for people to talk about what is happening to them right then – which can often translate into a way to express frustration or praise at a product or service they are using. Being away from Twitter won't mean missing out on tweets you should be aware of, or even replying to – and you can retain the personalised touch by crafting each individual reply. Twitterers who receive automatic alerts: 1. ComcastCares: Comcast is working to improve its dramatically low customer approval ratings by being alerted to tweets about their service, 15,157 followers
  • 4. (source: The New York Times) 2. AdamDenison: a PR representative from Chevrolet tracks tweets about their cars and tweets with enthusiasts, 1,328 followers (source: Mashable) 3. Be creative. Engage your audience by tweeting a story in instalments, or by having some fun with your brand. Any narratives your organisation is experiencing can be written as a Twitter story. Narratives can span the traditional – a new TV show, movie or publication – to the more ambitious – organisational change, expansion, a new product line. By playing out a narrative on Twitter, in some cases by a fictional character, or by providing entertaining updates, you can engage your audience with passion and creativity. Even without a pre-existing, offline narrative, or if your corporate image is unified, Twitter offers an opportunity to create a contemplative, enthusiastic and honest human presence online. Creative Twitterers: 1. PopeyesChicken: written by an anonymous employee who constantly puns about chicken, 2,799 followers 2. LaReinaDelSass: written as a character from web TV series “Gemini Division”, 30 followers 4. Give yourself a voice. Your brand may already have a defined voice, but Twitter allows you to vary that voice and create a broader online persona. Your Twitter can be written by 'the organisation', an excited new hire who chronicles their experiences, the CEO about his or her strategic vision, an enthusiastic helpdesk member, or any other involved and passionate employee. Multiple Twitter accounts can be created, for multiple voices, through which your organisation can demonstrate its flexibility, unique qualities and multiple services. Example Twitter accounts: 1. TVGuide: written by executive VP Paul Greenberg, 6,755 followers 2. Starbucks: written by former barista Brad Nelson, 130,324 followers 3. JDickerson: written by John Dickerson, Slate magazine political correspondent, 287,146 followers 5. Broadcast on Twitter. If your organisation is a broadcaster in the traditional media space, use Twitter to reach an audience who are not as interested in television, print or radio. By
  • 5. partnering Twitter with your existing website, you can automatically publish tweets which direct Twitterers to your updates: at September 2008, an informal review of American newspapers on Twitter showed around half used automatic updating services (source: GraphicDesignr.net). The nature of Twitter provides an immediacy to your message, and can increase your credibility and improving your profile. Example broadcasters tweeting automatic broadcasts of all articles on Twitter: 1. NYTimes: New York Times, 537,748 followers 2. ABCNews: Australian ABC News, 8,421 followers 3. TheAge: The Age, 1,165 followers How to promote your Twitter account The simplest method of promoting your new Twitter account is to write about it on your website. • If your organisation’s website contains a blog: Devote an entry to talking about your account and what you hope to achieve with it Add a plug-in to publish your recent updates in your blog’s sidebar Add your Twitter details to your contact information • If your organisation’s website doesn’t contain a blog: Create a “news” piece about your account Add your Twitter details to your contact information Also consider: • Include your Twitter account details wherever you publish your website address, specifically where customers see it • Write about your account in the next newsletter sent to customers Risk management when using Twitter 1. Negative feedback. By establishing a presence on Twitter, you may receive more direct feedback from other users about your products and services, and this feedback will sometimes be negative. Take the opportunity to respond quickly and appropriately, by providing assistance or information where possible and directing the user to an alternative
  • 6. communication channel if appropriate. From a negative update, create a positive interaction with the customer. This direct and personalised communication is where Twitter shines. 2. Falling behind. Effective use of Twitter entails being aware of all relevant updates, responding promptly where necessary, and keeping your followers informed of your latest news. Twitter is not a “set and forget” tool, so it is imperative your organisation allocates adequate resources to manage your account on a daily basis. A slow, silent Twitter account will do more damage to your online presence than no account at all. 3. Under-resourcing. Just as your organisation needs to be up-to-date in its management of Twitter, you also need to consider who will be managing your account. A resource will need to be allocated, with enough time every day dedicated to read relevant updates, respond appropriately and update with the latest news. Although Twitter seems simple, don’t risk under-resourcing your approach to it, and reducing its effectiveness for your organisation. How not to use Twitter: These tips are relevant for any organisations which aren’t involved in broadcast news. 1. Posting nothing new. If all your tweets direct your followers to read your blog, you risk losing their interest. They may already follow your blog, and decide that your Twitter isn't worth following as well. Or, if their first contact with you online is via Twitter, they may be disappointed that you aren't using it in a more communicative and interesting way, and stop following you as a result. Make sure you are posting relevant, interesting, entertaining, or simply informative tweets which followers will benefit from if they continue reading. 2. Automating too much. Getting automatic alerts whenever a user mentions your brand is valuable and useful. Sending automatic replies to users' inquiries can be insulting, insensitive or just rude. Twitter is a personalised communication system, and some of the most popular users are those who recognise and capitalise on this fact. If you want to personalise your organisation’s online presence by using Twitter, but aren't ready to communicate with users in a personal fashion, then you may not be ready for Twitter yet.
  • 7. 3. Ignoring your users. Your Twitter account is there to help you connect to your audience. If your Twitter feed is full of updates about your organisation, is regularly updated, and shows no interest in incoming contact from interested users, you will show you aren't interested in communicating – but simply in advertising. Social media is about promoting personal interaction, and an organisation which ignores this fact is one which will not benefit from social networking technologies, and one which will be left behind. Exceptions to this rule are news organisations or emergency services – for these Twitterers, being able to provide updates without being pressured to respond to queries is imperative. References: Twitdir, http://www.twitdir.com/ Hitwise, http://weblogs.hitwise.com/sandra-hanchard/2009/01/twitter_maintains_growth_in_vi.html Tweetrush, http://tweetrush.com/ The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/25/technology/25comcast.html?_r=1 Mashable, http://mashable.com/2009/01/21/best-twitter-brands/ graphicdesignr, http://graphicdesignr.net/blog/2008/09/03/newspapers-that-twitter-august-numbers/ Authors: Katherine Milesi kmilesi@deloitte.com.au Partner, Online Services, Deloitte (03) 9208 7561 Naomi Civins ncivins@deloitte.com.au Social Media Analyst, Deloitte (03) 9208 7359