Twitter can be used as a marketing tool

A lot of forums that I peruse that talk about social media and marketing have typically displayed a common question: “Can Twitter be used as an effective marketing tool?” I say that it can and it should be used. It’s just another way to form and shape the conversation people are having about you and your company’s product.

As a company representative, I would say that the best way to have a simple conversation with someone en masse is through Twitter. Considered a microblogging application, the 140 text character “tweet” will allow you to succinctly state what you want. When I say conversation, I’m not talking about “marketing-speak”, but rather having a dialog discussion to help show that it’s possible for a company to have a public conversation. There are many corporate companies that are using it right now…with JetBlue, Chicago Tribune, Burson Marsteller, and Comcast being one of several dozen common ones that come to mind.

Twitter has also been growing steadily in mainstream media as well, with local television stations and major networks adopting microblogging applications. CNN is one that has grown into Twitter with Rick Sanchez using it and also promoting its usage on live television as well. Anderson Cooper also uses it but with different intentions. Compared to Anderson Cooper, Rick Sanchez focuses on aggregating comments and news items from Twitter and broadcasts his findings when he’s on TV. Anderson Cooper uses it to promote topics on his show. As you can see, the marketability of having a presence on Twitter can vary based on your long-term goals.

Take email service provider, Blue Sky Factory, for example. In a great article by Jon Buscall today, he talks  more about Twitter’s marketability with CEO Greg Cangialosi and how they’re using Twitter. You can read the article and part of the interview with Debbie Weil here.

I think that what people are often worried about when using new technology like Twitter is the immediate ROI that they try and calculate. Interactive marketing has seemed to evolve past that. It’s no longer worrying about the marketing of a product, but rather focusing your time on the brand ambassadors. Getting your name where your audience potentially is and creating influencers are going to generate more business your way. Twitter is a means to communicate as a dynamic microblogging forum that will allow others to immediately reply back to you with their thoughts.

As a company, your “followers” are like fans on Facebook. They are either interested in what you have to say, you have something in common, or they’re your evangelists that will refer new people to you if they see an immediate connection. Debbie Weil’s blog post about her encounter with Greg Cangialosi perhaps describes it best:

Even more effective…is when a third party recommends your company via Twitter or in the blogosphere. When social media guru Chris Brogan mentions Blue Sky Factory, “we get a flood of inquiries,” Greg said. Chris has nearly 15,000 followers – people who have signed up to follow or read his every tweet. (Anything over 1,000 followers is considered an impressive following.)

So think of Twitter not just as a medium for you to list your deals and your ongoing promotions. You should because you definitely need to think about your bottom line, but also think of Twitter and social media as an extension of customer service and public relations. Like the saying goes “continue the conversation” and Twitter will help create more of those desired influencers and evangelists to promote new business.