Not All Fun and Games, Twitter is Tool For Business

Many people view Twitter as a childish game; just another haunt for people who have nothing better to do than to waste their lives away stalking celebrities and/or regurgitating endless streams of trivial and aimless updates hoping that even a handful of Twitter’s 200 million registered users will care. 

In some ways, they are right. The evidence is not hard to find. Even a quick check of Twitter’s trending topics would back up such a statement. As I write this, they range from “#WorstFeeling” to a real revelation; “Today is Friday”.

So, yes, Twitter is full of mindless chatter that barely qualifies as conversation. However, ask a business person or someone who knows how to network, and Twitter is a completely different animal.

For me, Twitter is the fastest and most accessible way to keep up on the sports world–which I follow obsessively. The key is to follow only a select group of users who are posting interesting and engaging material relating to your interests. For me, that includes just upwards of 1,000 sports bloggers, news outlets, and major sports network analysts and anchors. My Twitter feed is the first place I go to look for breaking news. Within the last 5 minutes, it broke the news to me that the Chicago Cubs dismissed general manager Jim Hendry and that hockey star Chris Drury retired. Mixed in with this information is a blog post analyzing the Detroit Tigers’ defense and an alert that a popular soccer podcast just went live.

As an aspiring sports journalist, I’ll re-post the information I think my followers would be most interested in and maybe even use what I’m reading on Twitter as inspiration for a blog post of my own. If I post enough compelling and unique content, I’ll increase my followers, and at the same time, my influence in the sports community.

The point is, on a personal level, Twitter is what you make it. Rarely does my Twitter experience include learning the reaction of psychotic fangirls to Justin Beiber’s latest haircut, simply because no one I follow cares.

From a business perspective, companies of all sizes can use social networks, specifically Twitter, both to keep up on trends and to gauge customer satisfaction.

Touch Marketing recently posted some revealing information on the subject of brands’ use of Twitter. Some highlights:

88 of the 100 Fortune Global Companies post daily news and updates – According to a study by Burson-Marsteller, “the Fortune Global 100 are now more likely to directly engage users on social media.” Before this year, companies were mainly using social networks to broadcast one-way communication. Now, they are beginning to realize the value of answering the questions and concerns of customers in the most public forum possible.

85% of companies are now using social media as part of their recruitment processBizTechDay notes that 10% of corporate tweets are job info related.

43% of people follow a brand on Twitter for special offers/deals, and 75% of users are more likely to purchase from a brand they follow – 28% of corporate tweets are deal related, according to the aforementioned blog post.

24% of current customers follow that brand on Twitter, and 66% of all questions asked on Twitter have a commercial intent – That’s a lot of people potentially talking about your business, whether positive or negative. Which leads us to what might be the most important number…

1,000,000 people view Tweets about customer service each week, and around 80% of those customer service Tweets are negative or critical – Twitter is becoming a great way for potential customers to see what people are saying about your company, and what they’re saying could be the deal-breaker. Engaging with existing and potential customers on Twitter is a great way to show you care. It also expands your influence and is a fantastic way to keep your company on the customer’s radar.

If you’re interested in Detroit sports, follow me (@garretkc) on Twitter. If you’re interested in the latest internet marketing news and strategies, including tips for small businesses and social networking, follow Got WWW? (@gotwww).