Twitter: A Valuable Marketing Tool?

Twitter
••• Getty Images / Peter Dazeley

There's a loud debate taking place, from Fortune 100 boardrooms to solo practitioner bedrooms—I am referring to Twitter, and whether we should consider the social media platform a marketing tool or something that belongs in the hands of people who have very little to do all day.  

I was an early adopter of Twitter when it launched back in 2006, and then I walked away from it. But social media platforms have evolved and my viewpoint has changed—I've come to see Twitter's value.

Think of Twitter as a means to get instant public messages delivered to the hands of your target audience, whether it is an audience of work colleagues or potential customers.

Twitter says 1.6 billion unique visitors per month see tweets on third-party properties, which corresponds to 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. 

The question is, how do you use Twitter as a marketing tool?

Twitter as a Learning Tool

Whether you are engaged on Twitter or not, someone may be twitting about you, your company, your team, or your industry. Twitter provides a search engine that allows you to enter company names, brand names, topics, and personal names. As a sheer educational platform, you should be aware of any negative (or positive) comments out there. If you're serious about your business, you need to check-in on a regular basis.

Use Twitter as a Media Outlet

If you haven't retained a fancy PR firm, you can use Twitter to post news or updates about your company or products.

However, don't do this before you become familiar with Twitter's format and etiquette. The rule of thumb is to never post anything negative. The other rule of thumb (to avoid posting anything negative) is to never post when you're angry.

I suggest visiting the twitter feeds of your competition before taking the plunge so you're well-versed in what people are posting.

You'll notice that people (who serve as the "voice" for their business) share not just information about themselves and their company, but links to other videos and relevant news stories. For example, if you earn a living as a leadership consultant, you don't have to write a story or press release on leadership, you can post a link to a recent leadership story on entrepreneur.com. 

Create Character in Your Brand

Twitter is a very useful tool in giving your brand a voice and a personality. If you follow the Twitter feed of Suzy Welch (author, news correspondent, and wife of Jack Welch) you'll see that her tweets are friendly, upbeat, personal, and often have photos of Suzy hanging out in her kitchen. This is not to diminish the quality and importance of the messages she delivers to her audience, she just puts forth her unique and engaging personality. Being likable online makes all the difference and can increase your Twitter following and help you grow your business. 

Deliver Information and Provide Customer Service 

People want to be informed but they don't want to read ten magazines and watch ten news shows to get the information they need. So, be sure you provide your followers with material—whether it's sharing news articles, delivering bite-size nuggets of advice, or links to videos.

And remember, Twitter is about information, conversation, and customer service. It's about talking to your prospects and consumers and interacting with them. Be sure to stay involved with your audience and reply to their messages as often as possible.