Effective Twitter for Communication & Product Integration

April 1, 2009

I attended a great session hosted by Sarah Milstein this morning at the Web 2.0 conference in San Fran regarding how businesses can utilize Twitter as a powerful tool to communicate online. Milstein is a Web 2.0 strategist and co-founder of 20slides.com, a site for lively, work-related workshops. During her presentation she also announced that she has co-authored a book with Tim O’Reilly called The Twitter Book (reserve a copy here)

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This session had so much great/relevant content. Here are some highlights:

SOME BASICS:
When you want to categorize messages on Twitter use the # Hash tag – so for example, if I tweet about the Web 2.0 Conference I can say: “having a great time in San Fran” and than put #w2e at the end of the message that’s relevant to the expo.

When speaking to someone start with the “@” symbol – so a message to me on Twitter would start @cdessi “#####”

TWITTER STRATEGY

Interact with your community and show the human side of your company.  The Chicago Bulls were cited as a great example following the game as their followers do- communicating similar interests and passion for the Bulls.  Allowing your Twitter followers to connect with the people in the company was a driving theme.  Don’t push out to the users, engage them and share. Someone posted a question to Jetblue regarding places to visit in DC. Jetblue ReTweeted to the community and they helped the person.

LISTENING TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES

Leverage the tools to find out who’s talking about your company, or who has similar interests and may be a new customer. Most interesting tools cited:

Search.twitter.com

Advanced Search on search.twitter.com for Words, People, Places, Dates, Attitudes, and other to search to see if there are people that are happy, unhappy or sharing links.  Recommended to grab the RSS feed of yous saved search, or get the results emailed to you via Tweetbeep.com. Sarah shared a story in which the Crowdvine CEO did a search and found a user that wasn’t happy with the product. It turned out to be a bug that was resolved. A CEO of a competitor had reached out to the same person – lesson? You HAVE to engage the user on Twitter or your competition will.

Some additional resources:

Twist.com

Twirl.com

Hootsuite.com

Twellow.com

FINDING FOLLOWERS

The first point that Sarah made is that you don’t need a million followers. What you need are a small number of passionate engaged followers.  She offered some tips:

1. Start with content.

2. Post great stuff and people will listen.

3. Make them want to follow you.

4. Start a conversation by using @ replies.

Some tools:

Mrtweet.com

Wefollow.com

SMART INTEGRATION

Allowing the user to integrate the Twitter account into the service you offer.  Example: Wesabe – users can direct message their expenses to them.  Salesforce.com has recently integrated Twitter which will launch this Summer.  You can respond to your users leveraging Salesforce.com tools.  She feels that this really adds legitimacy for Twitter.  Companies are finding that people complain on Twitter before they call customer service. So they can predict issues by being engaged in this community.

Quote of the session from this dynamic young woman Twitter is the  “Canary in the Coal Mine” for brands.

A question from the audience and answer from Sarah during the session:

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