A step by step guide on how to use Twitter for business purposes. Includes an introduction on Twitter, updated statistics, case studies, useful tools, Twitter practices, and a how-to on getting started.
What is Twitter?
• Twitter is a microblogging platform composed entirely of 140 character
answers to 1 simple question: “What are you doing?” or rather , “What are you
interested in right now?”
• As of May 2009, Twitter received nearly 20 million UMVs, growing by over
400% in the past year. Twitter saw a 752% growth from 2008-2009.
• Over 3,000,000 Tweets/day (TechCrunch), totaling over 1.25 billion Tweets to
• A study from Sysomos shows the top 10% of Twitter users make up for more
than 86% of the total Tweets – pointing out that the more followers a person
has the more frequently they are likely to Tweet.
• Twitter users tend to click on entertainment links (17.6%), social networks
(14.6%), news/media (10%), blogs (6.6%) and online retailers (4.5%).
• Females now make up over 50% of the Twitter demographic, up from less
than 40% in 2008. Twitter's largest age demographic is 18-to-44-year-olds
who make up 78% of its users. (January 2009 iStrategyLabs)
• While a number of Twitter tools and APIs are emerging on a daily basis, the
majority, 56%, of users are still Tweeting directly through Twitter.com.
• Twitter allows businesses a new mode of customer communication that
can be tailored to match their customers’ preferences.
• Identify what Twitter strategy works best for your company or client.
• Customer Relations
• Crisis Management
• Corporate Reputation Management
• Issue Advocacy
• Event Activation
• Product Promotion and Sales
Frank Eliason at Comcast started @comcastcares in April 2008 in
response to the customer conversations he and his team found on Twitter
through monitoring. Offers customers specific troubleshooting tips,
online resources, new product info and a key customer relations
personality (i.e. Frank’s).
Anyone who has customers – B2C, B2B, G2B, G2C, etc... –
can use Twitter to quickly listen and respond to customer
feedback before problems escalate or to activate brand
Customer Service: Follow
• Find out what people are saying about your brand through Twitter search
functions like, Search.Twitter and TweetScan.
• To make it easy, set up an RSS feed for your Twitter searches, so that you
can easily check in to see new conversations around the brand.
• Get familiar with these conversations and start to follow key contributors,
customers and brand “lusters” (those who are interested in your brand
but not yet customers).
• This is also where an organization tool like TweetDeck can come in handy
to help you categorize those you are following.
Customer Service: Create
• All Twitter handles should have a clear personality - even for customer
service. Keep in mind the overall personality of your brand as you tweet
and make sure you are providing valuable information to your followers.
• As you identify conversations and start to follow your customers, you will
be able to get an idea of what they are looking for. What do they want to
know? Are they asking for product information? Looking for tips on using
a service or fixing a product? This should be the guideline for your
• With the 140-character limit, use tinyurl or snurl to direct followers to
relevant information and useful resources outside of Twitter.
Customer Service: Engage
• While you can be providing general information to your followers on a
regular basis, you also want to make sure your customers know they are
• Focus on replying (@handle) to individuals who have questions about
your brand, who are sharing their brand experiences and to those to
whom you can provide helpful information and resources.
• Direct Messages (DM) are also useful for corresponding privately with
others. Go ahead and send new followers a direct message thanking them
for their interest and providing any additional information or resources
that could be useful.
Posting deals on refurbished computers from the Dell Outlet provides
Twitter followers a chance to be the first to know about online deals.
With over 2,000 followers, DellOutlet hit sales at over $1MM in 2008.
Product Promotion and Sales
A successful sales and promotion plan is based on
identifying your audience, providing useful content, and
being prepared to engage in the conversation. When done
right, your followers will not only become loyal customers,
but also evangelists for your brand and your promotions.
Product Promotion and Sales: Follow
• Search mentions of your brand, product, or niche and follow these
• When creating your account make sure your description and handle are
clear so users know what they get if they follow you.
• It would also be helpful to populate your stream with tweets before
beginning full-scale out-reach to show those checking out your profile
that you are a valuable follow.
Product Promotion and Sales: Create
• Tweet often (at least twice daily), but not too often.
• Besides promoting existing coupons and sales efforts, consider offering
Twitter-only exclusives to reward loyal followers and give them a reason
to stay connected.
• Nothing new to promote? Help people learn more about your company by
featuring one of your suppliers, your employee of the month (bonus
points if they are on Twitter and you can include a handle), or an
interesting piece of industry news.
• Keep content relevant to your products and should you fall in love with
Twitter and feel the urge to update every hour on the hour, please create
a personal handle.
Product Promotion and Sales: Engage
• The idea behind a sales and promotion strategy may seem like a one-way
conversation but check your replies and direct messages frequently.
• Failure to reply to a customer’s question, concern, or praise will make you
appear to be a spam machine.
• Be aware that by putting your brand out there you are opening yourself
up and people will inevitably contact you with a non-sales-related issue.
• Don’t allow this to scare you off; embrace it as a new way to talk to your
customers and give them what they want- this aligns nicely with your
• You are connecting customers immediately with info and links, thereby
increasing the chance that followers will click through for more
information or to make a purchase.
To build buzz around the upcoming launch of the Ford Fiesta in the 2010 US market, Ford
developed the Fiesta Movement - recruiting 100 online influencers to receive a new Ford
Fiesta with the instruction to complete a series of missions, or challenges, throughout the
course of a year with their Fiesta. To build momentum and allow these drivers, as well as
the larger general audience to interact with Ford, the @fordfiesta Twitter handle and
#fiestamovement hashtag were created, to publish challenges, get updates from drivers
and engage in an ongoing conversation around the Fiesta Movement.
The real-time ability to connect with others and share
experiences makes Twitter a great platform for individuals,
or companies, to use during a major event.
Live-Tweeting an event can be used to create a completely
new channel of conversation and a way to enhance the
physical experience of the event. Combining Twitter with
blogs, video and other social media efforts provides more
ways to interact with the content and experience you’re
Event Activation: Follow
• Find others who are Tweeting about topics or issues that will be covered at
• Follow users who are discussing your brand or product - they’re likely to be
interested in your company’s official point of view on the event and might
be able to help you spread the word.
• Customize an existing Twitter handle with an event-specific hashtag for a
set period of time or create a Twitter handle solely dedicated to that event.
– #votereport was used by people live-Tweeting from the polls
– @lenovo2008 handle was used by Ogilvy PR for the Beijing Olympics for our
• As it approaches, use Search.Twitter or Hashtags.org see what other
hashtags (#) are being used around the event you’ll be attending. Use it in
every tweet so that your content is easy to find by searchers.
Event Activation: Create
• Your handle will have its hey day during the actual period that the event
is occurring. This is when others will be looking for coverage from the
event, and you can provide a real service by providing on the ground
reports in real time.
• Make sure your Tweets are meaningful - great verbatims, new statistics,
or important announcements shared by speakers make for great Tweets.
Eyewitness experiences that non-attendees would never know about are
also high value. Give people information they can use themselves, or
would care to share with others.
• Spoiler alerts! Remember that if you’re live-Tweeting sporting
competitions or other live events on tape delay not everyone is dying to
know the final outcome. Consider including a “spoiler alert” warning if
Event Activation: Engage
• Interacting with other Twitterers who are at or interested in the event is
just as important as the live-Tweets that you put out. Tweet and search for
other event related tweets to respond to.
• Ask your followers questions and answer theirs - there is real value in
creating a community around your event coverage, especially since your
brand is the reference point.
• Follow, interact and DM with influential Twitterers who are also interested
in the event to help increase WOM.
• Other less visible Twitterers are still important. They may be more apt to
engage multiple times during your event to help build participation and
• Be pro-active in organizing on the ground Tweet-Ups, where attendees
come together to meet in real life to network with others with similar
The guys at JetBlue established a handle in a effort to humanize their
brand and prevent any future reputation and sales crises resulting from
customer complaints or corporate mishaps. Responds to customers with
information and suggestions in their own quirky personality.
Using Twitter for Crisis Communications is as much about
preventing an isolated issue from becoming a full-blown
crisis as it is about communicating to the public once a
crisis has hit.
Twitter is the fast way to respond and maintain an open
It needs to be part of a broader strategy, with all of the
(social) media channels you use to listen and share with
your customers, clients, and industry.
Crisis Management: Follow
• Keep track of your brand on Twitter, and in blogs, message boards, and
communities as well.
• Pay attention to key topic areas, new products and company
announcements. Listening becomes especially important during a new
product launch –a movie screening, a product debut, a major branded
event. Customer first impressions can start small, but grow fast and
• Follow users who talk about you – the people who use your products and
care about your brand. Follow those who talk both positively and
negatively about your brand.
• Crisis prevention is about building trust –about developing a network that
you can learn from, and can help carry your messages when you need to
get them out.
Crisis Management: Create
• In the case of a crisis, you’ll need more than 140 characters to tell your
story. Start with an explanation on a separate Web site or blog, like that
of JetBlue, and link to your page in your Tweets.
• Twitter can help direct your brand advocates and detractors to your
explanation and can alert them as new content becomes available and
new news is released.
• Clearly outline the steps you are taking to rectify the problem. Use
Twitter to share current information as it comes in.
• DM media contacts and brand ambassadors, with whom you’ve built
relationships, and give them the information they need when they need it.
• Post real-time updates that address the status of your issue, what you’re
doing to fix it, and eventually, what steps you’re taking so that it won’t
Crisis Management: Engage
• In a crisis, Twitter provides another venue for you to answer questions,
raise issues and engage in a dialogue.
• Respond to questions and comments from customers, influencers and
media, and especially those people who have been directly impacted.
• Your Twittering employees should be briefed on the issues, and if they
can’t address a specific question, they should be equipped to send
complaints to someone who can.
• Act early. Listening and responding in the first 24 hours following the
crisis is key as that is when the volume conversations will start to ramp
Started originally to “help build company culture” for employees outside
of the office. Now, with over 121,000 followers, provides customers with
an inside look at the company and core values, industry news, thought
leadership, useful resources and product promotion.
Corporate Reputation Management
Twitter offers a new channel and outlet for your brand’s
personality and humanity. A Twitter handle is created to
share the brand personality from real-live people behind
the messages being Tweeted.
It’s easy to see what others are saying about your brand
and topics of interest and create a strong presence within
Corporate Reputation Management: Follow
• Follow people talking about your brand, your product/service, and even
you. Listen and Learn.
• Follow other thought leaders in your industry, see what they are talking
about. Think of how you can join the conversation and be a thought
• Follow those who are talking about similar interests. If your brand has a
vested interest in a specific topic, make sure to follow others talking
about the topic to get insights and new ideas/information, and to
establish your brand within that conversation.
• Follow news and media handles. This will help to keep you up to date and
in the know of current events, new research, etc. Use this to your
advantage as conversation starters.
Corporate Reputation Management: Create
• The 140-character limit forces you to cut to the chase and just tell your
followers what they need to know (none of that corporate speak here).
• Become a thought leader in your industry, share interesting and new
information, insights and ideas around relevant topics. (You can throw in
company updates and news in there too, every once in a while)
• Just like a popular website or blog, if you continue to guide people to
helpful, funny, or insightful content they will come back for more.
• As with everything social media, the most important thing is to be
authentic. Do not try to push an agenda without being transparent.
• Be yourself and update often. The more you update the more Google
crawls your page. (Good for Search Engine Optimization)
Corporate Reputation Management: Engage
• Don’t be afraid to join the conversation.
• Nothing like the CEO of a major company mixing it up with the rest of the
community to help build a positive reputation for you and your brand.
• Through these conversations, you should be able to identify brand
ambassadors (or those who love your brand and Tweet often about it).
• Start and maintain a strong relationship with them, they can help to build
a positive conversation and become an essential part of your corporate
reputation management strategy.
Led by @lancearmstrong and @livestrongceo, the LiveStrong Foundation
spreads the word about about cancer and provide people with the tools they
need to “live life on their own terms.” The Twitter handle is aimed to provide
communication and support to those dealing with cancer, while also building
awareness and raising funds for the foundation and cancer research.
Twitter’s ability to connect people with similar interests can
be harnessed for the greater social good with non-profits
and issue advocacy organizations creating a community and
providing useful information to those they serve,
volunteers, donors and other supporters.
Issue Advocacy: Follow
• As with all strategies, use Twitter Search to find people interested in your
• Follow other non-profits (even your competitors), industry consultants and
thought leaders (@kanter, @nedre, @ntenhross), and of course people
interested in your cause.
• It is really important to follow all the people that are following you. If
your cause matters to them, what they have to say is important to you and
your success on twitter.
• Be sure to do regular Twitter Searches to see who is mentioning your
organization and what they are saying.
Issue Advocacy: Create
• Provide information that is useful to your followers.
• The cardinal rule of fundraising is to talk about your donors and the
issues that matter to them. Don’t focus on your organization or you will
lose people’s interest. This applies to Twitter as well. People follow
other people and organizations that provide them with something useful.
• As recommended by Claire Johnson, the chief twitterer at the American
Red Cross, “If you think of twitter as a public service that your
organization provides, rather than a marketing tool, you should be in
• Think about what kind of value your organization can provide to your
followers and then tweet about those things.
Issue Advocacy: Engage
• Once you have followers and content you can start engaging with the
people who follow you. Use @ replies to respond to people who mention
your organization after you find them in Twitter Search.
• Respond to people who follow you with a quick thank you and perhaps a
question to find out about why they chose to follow your organization.
• After you have a strong base of followers, start doing more to involve
your followers, like Twitter-thons or awareness days for your issue.
The Art of TwitPitching
• Created by Stowe Boyd, Twitpitching is the new way to pitch media, but in
140-characters or less.
• Still gaining in popularity, the TwitPitch is used to gain media coverage
around an event, product or company update.
• Small businesses and startups are TwitPitching @stoweboyd and @scobleizer
and other high profile Twitterers in hopes of capturing their interest and
• Boyd developed the following rules to help manage TwitPitches:
– A twitter message of the form "@stoweboyd [pitch goes here without the brackets]
#twitpitch". (Note the #hashtag means that these will be accessible at
– A second, optional twitter of the form "@stoweboyd [single URL goes here without
the brackets] #twitpitch". Just one URL, please.
– A third, optional twitter of the form "@stoweboyd [proposed time(s) to meet or call
go here without the brackets] #twitpitch".
• DO see what other businesses are doing on Twitter
• DO use Twitter search engines for keyword searches around brands,
products and topic of interest.
• DO follow Twitterers with similar interests to establish a brand presence
• DO use Twitter to start a conversation
• DO be dedicated to Twitter. Having more than one employee on Twitter will
ensure an ongoing company presence.
• DO ask questions and get feedback from your followers
• DO engage consumers in co-creation and get constructive insights for future
company developments or publications
• DO follow the Blogger Code of Ethics within all things social media:
– Be transparent in your reason d’Tweet (Let your followers know your
about - Customer Service, Product Discounts, etc)
– Respect other Twitterers (Know when to participate and when to listen)
– Think before you direct message (Will your direct message be seen as
helpful or intrusive?)
– Make sure your message directly relates to those you are reaching out to
– Provide value to your followers (Whether it’s free product or valuable
advice, something that gives you credibility and reiterates the value you
see in your followers)
• DO spread the word about your participation on Twitter - include your
Twitter handle in your email signature, send out your Twitter URL,
http://twitter.com/USERNAME to co-workers, peers and even customers.
• DON’T use Twitter to push ads or brand messaging. Don’t just Tweet but
also follow others to join in or start a conversation.
• DON’T use Twitter to tell your everyday tasks, make sure your Tweets are
resourceful, entertaining and/or valuable to your followers
• DON’T be boring!
• DON’T panic if you are “Twitter-Jacked“, where other Twitterers use your
identity within their Twitter handles, instead contact the Twitterers and
find out their reasoning before taking action (they could turn out to be
your biggest fans)
• DON’T I REPEAT - DO NOT Tweet anything about clients, co-workers,
friends, etc. that you would not want them to see - this is a good way to
burn bridges and lose customers (not to mention make a bad name for
Setting up a Twitter Handle
• Establish a Twitter handle and profile that sets the expectation for your
followers. Be clear in the handle bio and description as to what you will
be focusing on and who you represent.
• The name of the company should be included in at least your bio, and
ideally your handle (this will help people find your brand) as well.
• Disclose whether the handle will be maintained by one individual or a
team of people within the company.
• Shel Isreal recommends users “show” themselves with a real photo (or
at least an avatar). Your followers want to see that you’re a real
• Define the roles and responsibilities internally amongst your team
members (including how frequently your Tweets should be updated,
who should and should not be followed/responded to, and how you
should respond in various situations).
Setting up a Twitter Handle
• While you’re here, try out a
few variations of your brand
• Many companies have
created a Twitter presence
on Twitter only to find a
brand name already taken
• Consider registering
variations of a brand (i.e.
Nike, Nikeshoes, etc) in an
effort to protect against
Setting up a Twitter Handle
• Connect with Clients
• Provide a company email address
to search your existing Outlook,
Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, or MSN email
address books and find email
contacts already using Twitter
Setting up a Twitter Handle
• Complete the Profile
• Filling in the profile allows
for followers to better
understand the personality
of the person behind Twitter
• Be sure to include a bio, a
URL to a Website or blog and
the full name of a real
• Check the “protect updates”
feature only for internal
communications with private
Top 10 Twitter Tools
• Search.Twitter (f.k.a Summize): Complete an advanced search
around key phrases, within specific dates, and from specific
handles. (Often broken, Google search is the best back up!)
• TweetDeck: A desktop app that lets you organize your followers
into specific categories (i.e. industry leaders, customers,
potential customers, etc.)
• TwitPic: Provides a bridge from your camera phone to Twitter.
Pictures can either post to the Twitter public timeline from phone
via email or through the site.
• Tweet Later: Allows you to auto-follow those who follow your
account and provides an auto-welcome feature to send a custom
message to new followers via DM or in the public timeline.
• TwitterGrader: Measures the relative power and authority of a
Twitter user by calculating number of followers, power of
network of followers, pace of updates and completeness of a
Top 10 Twitter Tools
• TweetBeep: the Google Alerts for Twitter, allows you to monitor
conversations that mention you, your brand, related/competitor
products, and links to your website/blog. Alerted as keywords
appear, reducing the need for a manual search.
• Twitterholic: Find out who has the most followers and who can
be an influential asset to your campaign.
• Twhirl: Centrally manages activity, messaging, and updating for
Twitter and other platforms (FriendFeed, Identi.ca, and
• TwitScoop: Tells you “What’s hot right now?”, presenting trend
comparisons and volume of conversation.
• Twitterberry: Downloadable Blackberry app for Twitter.
(One more: TwitterFox, a Firefox plugin that allows you to send
and receive updates, right from the browser’s status bar.
A Strategic Approach to Using Twitter
STRATEGY FOLLOW CREATE ENGAGE
Content relevant to Answer questions,
Your customers and
Customer Relations your customers: tips, respond to comments
company info, etc. about your brand
Your brand, products Direct to additional Answer questions,
and relevant issues resources, updated respond to comments,
information, explanation raise issues, provide info
Corporate Insights, expertise, Jump in the conversation.
Reputation become a thought leader Be transparent and add
Those interested or Event information, Set up Tweet-ups, talk to
Event Coverage updates, behind the attendees, ask and
attending event, media
scenes coverage answer questions
Product Promotion Current and potential Links to online promos, Check replies and DMs,
& Sales customers, those insider info on upcoming answer questions,
interested in similar sales, discount codes provide info when needed
Issue Advocacy Those interested in Added value: health tips, Know your followers,
your cause, industry disaster alerts, thank them for support,
leaders, news fundraising info get them involved
John H. Bell
Managing Director | 360° Digital Influence
Ogilvy Public Relations
Digital Influence | 360° Digital Influence
Ogilvy Public Relations