A Marketer's Action Guide to Microblogging
Microblogging is one of the latest and most effective ways for people and marketers to get messages out to the world. It’s a type of short-form blogging that allows users to send brief updates or micromedia for viewing by anyone or to a restricted group. Think of it as a cross between instant messaging, blogging and social networking.
If you’re one of the more than 150 million Facebook users, chances are you’ve been microblogging and didn’t even know it. When you provide a short “status update” to your Facebook friends list or the Facebook community at large- — assuming you have a non-restricted Facebook account- — this is microblogging at its most basic.
Beyond Facebook status updates, the most popular and useful microblogging tool today is Twitter. Launched in 2006, Twitter quickly became the choice for techies. Now millions of individuals and businesses use it. What makes Twitter unique is its limit of 140 characters for each message, so you have to be choosy about words and make your concise messages appeal to the bombarded consumers of today. You also may soon have to pay for using Twitter: In February, posts all over the blogosphere reported that Twitter was considering charging companies that use the service to market their brands.
How does microblogging differ from traditional blogging?
While a traditional blog can be lengthy and cover just about any topic in detail, a microblog is drastically smaller and topical. Right now, microblogs are used for both personal and business purposes, but many marketers don’t understand, appreciate or even fully realize just how powerful this tool can be in helping drive important business-related messages.
For marketers, microblog messages are immediate and conversational. They allow for a new breed of interaction that previously hasn’t existed or was much more time-intensive.
You can turn to microblogging to publicize immediate messages you want to get out to customers, such as a product launch; special promotion; or important announcements like sales, new hires or exclusive partnerships. A “micro” update lets you do just that. In addition to the instant aspect, this communication is also conversational. If customers have problems, you can answer their questions. Or when potential customers want to know something more before doing business, you can give the information to them instantly. This type of communication allows you to answer questions, provide feedback, give recommendations and build relationships.
Among some noteworthy companies using microblogs, JetBlue has mastered the ability to strike the right tone with messages targeting customer needs rather than just broad advertising. Home Depot has used Twitter to offer help and answer customer questions.
Here are a few recent examples of tweets (microblog posts on the Twitter site) from JetBlue and Home Depot:
- JetBlue: “Leather recliners, loads of chips and sodas, personal TV — We’ve got your game day covered — & we’re comping cocktails too.” This tweet is promoting JetBlue’s service. It’s fun, humorous and topical — everything a good Twitter post should be.
- The Home Depot: “Mind sending me a list of what ur looking for & your closest store? I want to see if we can order it 4 U. Thx!” This update — directed to a person who communicated with Home Depot on Twitter — addresses that person’s needs by offering help and insightful feedback.
Consumers are bombarded with marketing-related messages all day long. As a result, the majority fail to get through. But microblogging is showing massive appeal, particularly to the coveted 18- to 35-year-old demographic. These gadget-savvy consumers like short, concise messages, and microblogging allows companies to relate on a more human and personal level with their target audiences.
In this regard, Twitter works because of the major influencers in the Twittersphere. These people are considered to be on the leading edge of early adopters and have a great influence on their peers. The word-of-mouth effect is prevalent on Twitter, which can be a great benefit to marketers.
When used the right way, Twitter can drive traffic, while humanizing any marketing effort and allowing for relevant, on-topic public discourse. Services like Twitter can drive traffic to your site, engage with customers or prospective clients, humanize your total marketing efforts, and provide a timely way to get messages out.
With all its benefits, isn’t it time to put micro-blogging to work for you?
Chris Winfield is president and co-founder of 10e20, a New York City-based social media and search marketing services firm. Reach Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/chriswinfield.