Tag Archives: twitter

How can Twitter be a viable marketing tool?

Is Twitter a viable marketing tool? Some argue in favor of it, and some argue against it.  I think it boils down to whether an interesting conversation can occur as a result of this. Are there interesting anecdotes that can be utilized to explain the brand story? Are businesses simply using social media for the sake of it? Upon further examination, the pluses and minuses of this approach will be discussed.

Some of the advantages of Twitter would be the design of the platform.  It is simple, scalable, and easy to develop APIs for Twitter.  These APIs are modular and can exist cross-platform.  This is also a “cloud” application, where storage of the information is not placed in the users’ computer, but on Twitter’s servers.  Mostly, the advantage is that people are able to organize around topics, events, companies and causes offline and online with real-time conversations surrounding these.  It is human nature to be curious to know what others are doing and thinking.  Twitter is also a viral platform for everyone’s content, and it provides context to people’s conversations.

On the other hand, some challenges for Twitter can include finding content that would be of interest to potential customers.  For example, if one’s client sold table salt, what content can be tweeted?  The target demographic, busy moms, probably do not have the time or the interest to follow a table salt company’s tweets.  It takes much time and energy for twitter campaigns, and in the end is it really worth it?  What meaningful conversations can come from 140 or less characters messages? With so many people tweeting, isn’t burdensome to read all of those tweets?

I think despite some of the challenges, twitter can be useful if the brand has a compelling story to tell.  Reaping rewards of Twitter for more mundane products/services (e.g. table salt or housecleaning) becomes a greater challenge for marketers.  If there is an exciting narrative that surrounds the brand, Twitter becomes an easier tool to utilize.

Using Twitter searchTinker and other search tools are very important to ascertain what people are saying about one’s brand; one’s industry; competitor products/services; brand’s product/services and the topics of conversations of one’s target market.  These could be complaints, compliments, uses of the product or service.  Also joining in the conversation between one’s company and the customer is very important.  A success story from this was when a customer was complaining about their Comcast Internet service.  This customer tweeted their complaint, and instantly, a Comcast customer care representative responded.   This built up relational capital between Comcast, that particular customer, current customers and any potential customers.  This example of quick customer service became viral across the internet.


Can Twitter’s business model be monetized?

twitter users.001

Twitter’s online growth has exploded last year. It is becoming more popularized with news organizations, celebrities, businesses and users. With the increase of users can Twitter’s existing business model be sustainable? Can it be monetized? This article from Wharton explained how the Twitter website increased its user base from 475,000 in February 2008 to over 7 million in February 2009.

Has this venture been monetizable?  It has not been so far.  Some of Wharton’s professors have argued that the service can be replicated by rivals such as Facebook, and question whether it is simply a fad (e.g. ICQ, Friendster and MySpace).

Part of its draw for marketers and celebrities is the ability to tap into conversations real-time, providing instant online commentary for an offline event and to join in conversations with consumers.  From a user standpoint, it is easy to track like-minded people, friends and celebrities.  Can data mining be used as a revenue model?  The social networks on twitter tend to be less meaningful than on Facebook or even MySpace, and thus, the information would be less value to marketers.  Facebook is a platform that contains more personal information about the user such as the conversations that surround the user’s offline and online activities (e.g. photo albums, interactive quizzes, etc.).

With the large increase in users, could Twitter charge for premium services such as being able to input more than 140 characters or even charging for advanced search options for twitter search?  There needs to be a balance between growth and earning profits.  Currently, the demographics for twitter are mostly with Generation X (people born between 1964 and 1979).  Compare that to Facebook, where much of the growth was with Generation Y (people born between 1980 to 1995), and it expanded to other age groups.  This clearly illustrates that Twitter’s growth maybe stunted.

I think there is money to be made with the development of the APIs.  As Twitter’s base expands, more developers will want to develop more applications for it.  As this occurs, the additional features will attract more users.  Once a critical mass is reached, Twitter can start to charge developers for making APIs on their platform.

What do you think?  Can you think of possible areas that Twitter can be monetizable?  Or do you think it is simply a fad?

Twitter and Generation Y

I attended a Social Media conference on Saturday.   One of the talks was from entrepreneur and social media enthusiast, Jonathan Kochis, and he discussed the emerging popularity of Twitter.   What age group do you think Twitter is most popular?  One would suspect the Generation Y (people born between 1980 and 1995) crowd, because they were the early adopters of popular social media websites such as Facebook and MySpace.    However, the latest surveys here and here show that the Generation X (people born between 1964 to 1979) crowd were the ones driving the recent Twitter phenomenon.

Mr. Kochis explained how youth interact with social media.  He mentioned several insights from a report from the MacArthur Foundation, which studied youth and their online behaviors.   Some of the insights included: young adults and teenagers tend to have no patience, low reading and research skills compared to Generation X adults.   Generation Ys mostly use the internet to connect, to share and to make plans with friends.  They also use these tools to maintain friendships rather than find new ones.  Whereas, Generation X adults tended to use the internet for research and for work.   They also use the social media tools to organize events, issues and causes.  Making new business and professional contacts as well as promoting oneself and their work are used more often with Generation X than Generation Y.

Twitter is a great tool to organize events, to make new business contacts and to promote oneself.  It is also mostly text-based (140 characters or less).  None of these attributes attract the Generation Y crowd.  Twitter can be used to attract and maintain weak ties to people.   Random people who may use the Twitter search to find keywords can add random users.  The Generation Y crowd seeks to maintain friendships, and there is a need to find tools that strengthen these strong ties.  Facebook, IM (e.g. MSN Messenger, Adium, etc.)  and SMS texting are all very personal and very direct.

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you agree with this analysis?

50 uses for Twitter for business applications


How does a business listen to its customers? Is it through the customer service department?  Call center operations? This is an interesting article about how businesses can incorporate Twitter as a web 2.0 tool.  I had discussed in an earlier post about the benefits of Twitter to enhance friendships, but this post will be about using Twitter to enhance business to customer relationships.  

Chris Brogan has listed fifty uses of using Twitter for businesses.  It is quite the insightful read.  Mostly, it is used for connecting business to its customers through its interests, its insights, customer service and customer opinions.

Social Websites (e.g. Facebook, etc.) enhance relationships…but at what costs?

In the world of social networks, the marginal utility of an application increases when the user’s friends usage rates increases.  Much of the reason of the emergence of the popularity of social websites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace is due to an increasingly number of users utilizing this service. 

In my earlier post, I had discussed the societal, economical and psychological benefits/drawbacks of social websites.  In this post, I will continue to discuss the role of online privacy.  In my earlier post today, I had discussed the balance between online privacy and targeted advertising.  Trying to seek a balance between the two is rather difficult.  There is a paradox that exists as the users become increasingly engaged online, their privacy increasingly erodes.      

One of the noted features of Facebook is a news feed, that automatically updates the activities of the user’s family, friends and acquaintances.  It is similar to an RSS feed, instead of seeking daily updates on a multitude of web pages, these feeds are instead fed to a single web page.   On Twitter, the user can update his/her status (what they are doing, where are they going, who are they seeing, etc.) with a maximum of 140 characters (similar to a text message) unlimited number of times per day.  Both Twitter and Facebook feed applications are similar, one feed is not meaningful by itself, and can be rather mundane.  Put together a collection of feeds that happen in one day, it becomes a story, and it paints a complete picture of the family member, friend, acquaintance or even a stranger that the person is following .  With Twitter one can update one’s feed and follow others’ feeds and know what the other user is feeling/thinking/doing, etc. on a constant basis especially when using a Blackberry device.  According to this article, social scientists refer to these incessant updates as “ambient awareness.”  Can people constantly read and absorb a multitude of messages on a daily basis?  Well, these feeds are meant to be scanned, akin to reading newspaper headlines, and is analagous to acting as ambient messaging. 

These feeds can become a conversation piece with friends the following day.  It ressembles reading someones mind.  For example, if one was meeting a group of friends at a coffee shop, and saw something interesting while in transit, he/she can “twitter” this neat occurrence to his/her friends real-time.  Once at the coffee shop, his/her friends would know what happened to the user on the way to the coffee shop.   

Being connected and engaged with these online social tools is not all rosy, the article discusses how this constant self-disclosure created difficulty with one user withdrawing from this online world because she wanted to know if people were discussing events behind her back.  Some employers and college admission boards are now utilizing these online social tools to screen potential job candidates.   

In the end, users need to balance the enhancing social capital vs online privacy paradox.  The constant self-disclosure could be used as a method for catharsis, which inadvertently, makes the user know themselves better.