Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: A Little More Conversation

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: A Little More Conversation

Article excerpt

Those brands using Twitter to best effect have focused on genuinely connecting with consumers.

The first status update on Twitter ('Just setting up my twttr') was sent by co-founder Jack Dorsey on 21 March 2006. It came 130 years after the first successful telephone call, when Alexander Graham Bell's assistant distinctly heard the words: 'Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you.' History does not record how irritated Watson probably felt.

At first glance, I'm struck by the banality of both the statements; hardly 'one giant leap for a man'. Yet, while Twitter is often criticised for the trivial nature of its content, people forget that the vast majority of phone calls are of the non-earth-shattering 'get some milk on the way home' variety.

So the microblogging site that gives you just 140 characters to share your deepest thoughts is four years old. It has been hacked by the 'Iranian Cyber Army', turned down both Google and Facebook as suitors, launched a thousand croissants and become one of the internet's most talked-about brands - all without turning a bean in profit.

We don't care about that. We hear lots about Ashton Kutcher and Stephen 'I'm stuck in a lift' Fry on Twitter, and those celebrity brands have certainly found value in connecting directly with their fanbase Astronauts tweet from space, babies from the womb. However, beyond those individuals, the question on marketers' lips is, has business found a way of making money from Twitter?

In the main, as with Facebook, business activity on Twitter is unfocused, lacks a clear reason for being there, and most importantly, has little benefit for customers. Yet, there are exceptions, where enterprising people are connecting to consumers for their mutual gain.

Dell has booked dollars 6m in revenue and gained substantially in awareness of its outlet store. With more than 80 Dell-branded Twitter accounts, the company uses the channel for customer service, distributing coupons and exclusive offers to customers regionally.

Electronics retailer Best Buy adopted Twitter broadly across its organisation, launching its Twelpforce service with employees encouraged to answer technical queries from consumers via the channel. They are not paid to do this, but staff sign up via Best Buy's own interface and follow the company's well-crafted set of social media guidelines (available at bit.ly/bnATMN). Hundreds of queries are answered every day, with typical issues includ- ing product recommendations and customer support. …

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