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Much has been made over Twitter. The microblogging site is predicted to have over 18 Million users by the end of the year, and it just received $50 million in venture capital funding. Why is Twitter such a big deal?

An Overview of Twitter

From my perspective, Twitter differentiates itself from other social media services in these areas:

Who Uses Twitter

Fully 41% of Twitter’s users are between the ages of 35 – 49. These aren’t just kids playing – they’re professionals in the midst of powerful careers, and they use Twitter as a tool to further their businesses. It’s not just technology people either: artists, performers, designers, Internet mavens, and many others are using Twitter.

Mobile

Twitter was set up to work on mobile phones from the beginning. You can text Tweets, or, if you have an iPhone or BlackBerry, use one of several phone-based Twitter applications. This easy mobility makes short communication easy and portable.

Culture

The culture of Twitter is one of engagement and legitimacy. The most successful Twitter users have ongoing conversations with their followers; they don’t just try to sell them things. They try to help solve problems, share funny or interesting content, and make special offers to their followers for being loyal, dedicated fans.

Real Strategies for Using Twitter

In general, Twitter can be used as a way to:

  • Direct marketing using giveaways and discounts (measure clicks).
  • Build a brand following by offering useful info (measure ReTweet & Click-Through Rate).
  • Build brand evangelism by measuring ReTweet rates.
  • Customer Service.
  • Indirect selling (monitoring for industry-related comments).

Different companies use Twitter in different ways. It all depends on your industry and customer base.

@KoiFusionpdx in Portland, Oregon is the owner of a food cart and he has used Twitter to let clients know where he is going to set up shop. As one of the first food cart owners in Portland to use Twitter, Bo, the owner of KoiFusion, copied the strategy of @KogiBBQ, to great success. Bo uses Twitter to let his followers know where he’s going to be, what’s on the menu, and how long he’ll be open. His raving fans love his Korean Tacos and have made him profitable in just three months of business. After Dave Chappelle showed up in Portland back in July,  people started realizing that they were missing out on major events because they weren’t using Twitter. Bo says his Twitter following’s responsiveness grew quite a bit after that.

In addition to Tweeting about menus and locations, KoiFusion uses Twitter as a virtual suggestion box. Don’t like the music he uses? Neither did a KoiFusion regular. He tweeted about it and Bo axed the music. Bo’s advice for business owners using Twitter? “Be real. Be yourself. You should be able to say today was a horrible day … and you ran out of steaks.”

Larger companies have also reported major wins on Twitter. Dell recently announced that they made $1 million in the last year by offering special discounts through their Twitter channel. Zappos created legions of raving fans by using Twitter for customer service and sales.

Just like any other advertising method, Twitter should be measured to make sure that you are getting the return you want. These returns, however, are not always a direct, easy to measure return on investment. It’s not merely advertising. It’s engagement with your audience.

Measurement should be based on:

  • People following you on Twitter.
  • Traffic generated to your website.
  • What other people are saying about your business.
  • Blog posts and media mentions generated due to Twitter.
  • Video views stemming from Twitter links.
  • Number of consumers/clients assisted or interacted with.

How about you? Are you using Twitter? If so, we would love to interact with you on Twitter! Follow our @Ask_NetBiz Twitter account and let us know how we can answer your Internet marketing questions.

Netbiz_Ned_150x224_biggerThe official @Ask_NetBiz Twitter account.

Nik Dahlberg

Dedicated Father, enthusiastic marketer. Let's connect.

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