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Business benefits of Twitter deserve consideration

BLOGGING MAKES SENSE

Kiruba Shankar  |  New Delhi 

While this micro-blogging tool is rapidly becoming popular amongst
the youth, here's how businesses can benefit by being part of it.

Titan's Fastrack sends out an advance notice of a sneak preview of its latest range of sunglasses. JetBlue Airlines not only uses it to mention its new large seats but also mentions of attractive ticket discounts that happens on the day. Select Dell employees talk about their life at Dell, which aims to give a human touch to the company.

All these are instances of companies latching on to the latest Twitter craze.

So, what is this Twitter thing?

Twitter is a free micro-blogging and mini-social networking tool. It allows users to send short updates on activities via the web, SMS, instant messaging or emails.

People on Twitter answer one simple question, "What are you doing now?" The answer has to be less than 140 characters, typically in a sentence or two.

The concept is amazingly simple and that is perhaps one of the main reasons why it has caught on like wildfire. If blogs were considered an ego-massaging, navel-gazing medium, Twitter takes it a bit further. Now, you can tell what you are having for lunch or which movie you are going to. It means that you can also stay in touch with friends without being intrusive. Just follow their twitters. It's a nice way to keep a little window peering into the day to day life of people you care about.

A traditional blog is a log of what somebody is up to, but in a richer, more detailed format. It takes time to compose your thoughts into words.

Twitter lets you write down that voice in your head instantly.

The usage of Twitter on mobile phones is yet another reason for its popularity. You can both send and receive updates what you and your friends are doing on the go using a simple SMS. It is a truly mobile communication tool. This can be a pretty powerful thing.

So far, it's been a thing that caught the fancy of mobile heavy teens and web savvy geeks. Is there any real utility value for companies? Can this be used as an Internet marketing tool to reach out to the young trendy "target audience"?

The mantra is go where your audience go. In that angle, it makes sense for companies to have a presence on Twitter if only to send out a message that you are in their wavelength. It's like being in a cricket stadium and if you talk cricket, it's that much easier to break ice and connect up with the cricket lovers around you.

It's a tool to talk their language.

It's also a tool to listen. Correction. A powerful tool to listen. If you're in the tech industry, and in marketing, you should be paying attention to what's happening on Twitter. If you are a brand that targets the youth, just by listening you can gauge what are their newer interests and what's the next new thing that they are latching on to. It'll help fine tune your marketing strategies.

If your company has a corporate blog (if it doesn't, you really should), Twitter can be a nice way to inform your audience of new posts. Not just posts but news we find interesting, or entertaining things we've found on the web.

Twitter can be an excellent way to receive feedback. Let's say, you are about to re-launch your corporate website, you can ask the folks to take a look and quickly give their feedback.

It's a way to identify the influencers. These are micro-celebs and micro-conglomerates who are popular and have lots of followers. Their opinion, sometimes, can be more powerful than any press release can do. It helps you connect with them and if done properly, can have a significant positive impact on your brand. It can be an extension of your social marketing plan.

There are some who believe, it's a fad and will go away after the novelty disappears. That's what people said about blogs and social networks too but look at them now. If you are a corporate head, PR or marketing person, instead of standing outside, jump right inside and be part of the conversation. The only way you'll know if it works for you is when you try it out.

The writer is CEO of Business Blogging and founder director of F5ive Technologies. A skeptic turned convert, Kiruba enjoys tweeting his life. You can follow him at http://www.twitter.com/kiruba

First Published: Fri, April 04 2008. 00:00 IST
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