Twitter for Business: Not Just for the Birds
I can't think of a better way to start this blog than extolling the virtues of my favorite social media tool, Twitter. I worry that some people don’t realize just how great a tool Twitter is for business, so I’d like to share a few things about my experience and hopefully convince a few more people to join the conversation. This is also the perfect time to talk about Twitter because the first ever #AVChat is being held Thursday, February 10th, at 4PM EST, but more on that later.
If you don't have a Twitter account, you should get one. There is a whole world of business and personal connections you are missing out on. If you're still wondering, “what is twitter and how does it work?” I'll start with the basics, so that you have no excuse not to join. If you already use Twitter, you can skip this next paragraph.
Twitter allows you to publish 140 character messages to your page. You can subscribe to receive messages from as many people as you want, and you'll see all the messages displayed in one long stream. Links are often shortened using websites like bit.ly or ow.ly so they fit in a message. Don't be afraid of the symbols either. There are only two you need to know. To link your post to another user, you can type @ and that person's username. The # symbol is called a hashtag. Placing a hashtag before a word turns it into a link, and if you click on that link you see a stream of all tweets with that #word in it. This is a great system for organizing specific conversations like #AVChat. That's really all you need to know. Not too tricky.
Now that the easy stuff is out of the way, let's talk about how you can use Twitter for business. The first thing to do is broadcast something. Twitter makes you a publisher, so anything you have to share, special deals, blog posts, new products, jokes, you should put them all up there. If you have news, direct the message to all involved parties by giving them an @ mention. People searching for your company may find their way to your account, but you should also go out and find the relevant accounts in your industry. Search Twitter for your best selling product, see who has been writing about it, and follow those people.
Communicating with others is the key to a successful account. Letting people know your sale of the day is a start, but the only way you'll be remembered is to engage in conversations with followers. Twitter is a great tool to answer questions or diffuse criticism by giving customers an easy, stress-free way to feel a personal connection to your organization. Best Buy's Twelpforce is an example that every retailer should be aware of. Best Buy developed a program that allowed its employees to log in to the Twelpforce Twitter account and answer questions tweeted by customers. Anyone with down time in Geek Squad or on the sales floor can log in and provide customer support. The program has been hugely successful.
The moment I realized just how valuable Twitter could be was at last year's CEA Line Shows in New York. In the weeks before Line Shows, I watched the #Lineshows hashtag, and was able to find out who else in the industry would be there. Then when @Social4Media organized a Tweet Up, I RSVP’d, and the night before the trade show, I was finally meeting some of the people I had been following on Twitter. I was seeing new products, before the show, making arrangements to visit booths, and suddenly I had made real lasting connections, with real people, because of the foundation I had laid with Twitter.
I can't wait for an even bigger CEA Line Shows and CE Week this June when I can put even more faces to the contacts I have made. I also can't wait to see what happens with #AVChat this Thursday at 4PM EST. #AVChat is the brainchild of journalist/communications consultant Linda Seid Frembes, known on Twitter as @AVWriter. The goal of #AVChat is to bring members of the professional audiovisual community together to discuss specific topics. It will be a great opportunity to exchange ideas and network, and you can join in without having to leave your couch because Twitter is just that fantastic a tool for business. I hope I’ll see you there.
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