5 Ways to Leverage Microblogging
While these platforms have seen an explosion among users who share thoughts and links, connect with friends, and build networks, companies are now starting to jump on board to engage with customers and partners, communicate news in a quick and timely way, and monitor what the world is saying about them.
Some commentators have dismissed the Twitters of the world as places where the self-absorbed waste time writing about the mundane, but many reputable companies don't see it that way.
Such early-adopter companies are showing how to bond with customers and prospects on a new level. But clearly, with a medium in which messages are limited to 140 words and can quickly turn judgmental and negative, there are potential downsides.
Here are five ways companies can leverage microblogging to help their businesses:
1. Monitor your industry and competitors. Companies must understand that thanks to social media technologies such as blogging and microblogging, conversations about companies and their brands are happening every minute of the day. And they're happening off the radar screen -- unless companies are monitoring the landscape.
Southwest Airlines has used microblogging to keep an eye on long lines at its airport gates so it can respond and help passengers.
2. Track conversations about companies and their brands. In the case of microblogging, negative comments about companies' brands can be particularly damaging because they come in real time and, thanks to the shortness of the message, can be painfully blunt and reach thousands of consumers. Companies are beginning to understand they need to keep one eye on the blogosphere and the other on microbloggers.
3. Grow sales. Early anecdotal evidence suggests microblogging, with a disciplined eye on building an audience, can grow revenue. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh may occasionally give away shoes through Twitter. But in doing so, he's building loyalty for the brand that will result in additional sales in the future. Dell jumped on Twitter to broadcast closeout sales on product lines. The results reportedly have been $750,000 in sales.
4. Enhance customer service. Microblogging posts can be directed to the general audience from a user; to a particular user but read by the general audience; or to a user via a direct message. The benefit for companies is that a vigilant employee can follow these posts and address a customer's request in any of them quickly, directly and personally, as well as educate others following the feed.
5. Expand communications with stakeholders. Companies can use microblogging as a way to distribute short messages that direct readers via URLs to their Web site, blog or other Web sources offering larger chunks of information about the company or relevant news.