Mar 5 2009
by Marinel Mones
Twitter, the popular micro-blogging site, publishes online messages with a maximum of 140 characters. Currently, Twitter has an estimated 4.1 million visits to the site and climbing per month in the U.S. alone. It is considered to be the fastest growing social network, and is one of the most viral social media tools freely available. Many brands attempt to use the tool to market their services and products, but the successful brands use Twitter to listen and engage with their stakeholders. (img from seyDoggy’s photostream)
Brian Solis, a Principal at FutureWorks, said, “Of all of the social tools and services that are pervasive throughout our digital society, only a select few communities can boast the pseudo fanatical conviction that Twitter’s users unanimously possess.”
Twitter can be compared to skimming the headlines, only viral with links, tweets and conversation moving at the speed of 140 characters. At the same time, it lacks the depth of other forms of social media, like content rich blogs or a contact manager like LinkedIn.
Similar to other social networks, organizations should not just jump onto the Twitter bandwagon. Before engaging companies and organizations need to assess their purpose and potential benefits of using Twitter. Below are key questions to consider:
For example, social media consultant and social media for social good advocate, Beth Kanter, used Twitter to help a young Cambodian woman receive treatments for her health. Kanter challenged people at the Seattle Gnomedex 8.0 Conference in August 2008 to use their Twitter networks to raise money for this woman. In 90 minutes, Kanter raised $2,500 and by the end of the conference $4,000. Kanter was successful because she has a large network, but she also cultivates her relationship with her Twitter followers.
What Twitter Can Do For You
Tracking keywords and conversations is one of the benefits of Twitter. Organizations can follow dialogues and research key issues using Twitter Search and hashtags (#). Following conversations provides the organizations with benchmarks and results.
If an organization wanted to see what the Twittersphere was saying about them, they could easily use Twitter search to monitor the conversations. Twitter search also provides an RSS Feed (a system that generates frequently updated information from a site) for specific terms. Organizations could really use the search to answer questions and track trends.
Communicating provides only140 characters to capture your stakeholder’s interest. If organizations continuously build relationships and network on Twitter and the campaigns are thoughtfully executed, then the campaign will be successful. It’s critical for 98% of marketers out there to ensure they don’t just broadcast using a Twitter profile (CNNers, Guy Kawasaki and Shaquille O’Neal aside). Success demands participation and conversation.
Take the Twit2Fit effort as an example. Twit2Fit is an ongoing Twitter movement that supports the health and wellness of people and challenges Twitter users to exercise and create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. When people tweet about exercising, they add the #twit2fit to their post. The movement encourages people to become healthy and allows Twitterers to show their support for better health and wellness.
Another example is Epic Change’s Tweetgiving campaign, an effort to raise money to fund a new classroom for a school in Tanzania. In just 48 hours, Epic Change was able to raise $10,000 through the power of Twitter and social media.
The best benefit organizations get from joining Twitter is the relationships. The Twitter community is continuously growing and thrives on participation and interaction. Think of your Twitter relationships as investments of the organization. To keep a client, you must continue nourishing that relationship and offer assistance as needed. Offer your Twitter community with information by providing answers pertaining to their sector-related questions. Listen and engage with your stakeholders.
Twitter is a helpful tool when effectively used. The dynamics of the Twitter community allows organizations to use connect with their stakeholders and offer information about themselves or their cause. Through this micro-blogging tool, the organizations can meet new people, share information with their stakeholders about organization updates or events, track trends and conversations in the nonprofit industry and even create a micro-campaign. With Twitter, organizations are listening, engaging and building relationships that extend beyond the social network.