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January 06, 2008

Everyone is all a' Twitter - should your brand be?

It seems that over the holidays the use of Twitter exploded.  Whether it was folks being snowed in or simply giddy from all the good cheer, my Twitter "following" and "follower" lists tripled in size.  And it's not just me.  Overall, Canadian use of Twitter seems to be growing.  Sean Moffitt (Buzz Canuck) points us to a recent snapshot of Canadian Twitter users from the Twitter Facts blog:

Canadian Twitter Users

A couple major Canadian news outlets are Twittering: the CBC and the Globe and Mail are active.  There are a number of niche bloggers who use Twitter to alert their readership to time-sensitive info: Bargainista tweets notices of sales, coupons and deals while the Cheap Eats Toronto publishers have set up a Twitter account to share tips on budget eating in Toronto.

Larger Canadian retail brands are also starting to get into Twitter.  Tiger Direct, an online computer dealer, has a Twitter account where they share computer and electronic news.

In a recent report, Microblogging for Marketers (available for free with registration) written by analyst Peter Kim (follow on Twitter), Forrester Research has further documented uses of Twitter by companies like Jet Blue (seat sales and news), Carnival Cruise Lines (sales, news and cruise-related links) and the Dell Outlet (unique deals on refurbished computers (USA only)).  Kim gives an overview of microblogging, specifically Twitter (2 pages), discusses who is microblogging from a consumer perspective, highlights a couple of companies (mentioned above) who have initiated microblogging experiments and suggests five initial actions that a company can take into microblogging.

Although there has been some discussion about the validity of the numbers in the report, there are two things that I have found valuable and that don't specifically rely on the numbers:

First,  people who microblog are open to advertising and are likely to buzz (click for larger image):

Consumers who Microblog - Forrester

Secondly, even if you don't want to actively Twitter at this time, you shouldn't simply ignore the space.  At the very least, protect your brand ... (from the report)

   

Claim its identity. At a minimum, a brand should create accounts on Twitter, Pownce, and Jaiku to claim brand and product names as a defensive procedure. Squatters and spoofers have already created accounts like http://twitter.com/ipod and http://twitter.com/myspace, hoping to cash in on microblog real estate. However, many handles like “budlight,” “kraft,” and “oldspice” are still available.

At best, learn from your customers ...

   

Monitor relevant voices. Brands should search microblogs for content related to their industry, their competition, and themselves. Microblog sites can be searched using internal search functionality or through search engines, e.g., “site:twitter.com nike” on Google. When users display an affinity interest, marketers can “follow” them directly to receive updates of posts.

The full set of recommendations can be read in the report.

So, what do you think?  Do you Twitter?  Personally or corporately?  Is it useful for brands or is it just a lot of noise? I struggle with the amount of irrelevant tweets that I get.  I think there is definitely a "newness" and "coolness" factor about Twitter.  But there is something intimate and compelling about microblogging.  Especially since it is a mobile tool - you can tweet from your computer or your mobile device.

Share your thoughts and ideas about Twitter and microblogging by leaving a comment!

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Comments

I thought it was bad practice for brands to jump on Twitter and "blurt" out things like promotions and other veiled sales pitches? I thought the whole idea was to connect with a community and add value through conversation?

Surely some people welcome exclusive coupons and promotions, but some brands don't seem to agree...

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