Call it a social network, microblogging platform, networking site--by any description, Twitter is home to a rapidly growing audience. About 200 million registered Twitter accounts exist today. Recent Pew Research Center polling showed that 13% of all American adults online use Twitter as of May, 2011, good for a five-point jump from the November, 2010 adoption rate (8%). Moreover, Pew data indicates tweeters are skewing older, smarter, and more mobile. (The subtext: They have more purchasing power.)
All of this points to major potential for enterprises on Twitter. But before you unleash a torrent of tweets, it is a good idea for any business to ask a basic question: What am I using this for? It's not simply a matter of hanging out an "open" sign and watching the business pour in.
Twitter, perhaps more so than some other social sites, comes with certain guidelines--and we're not talking about the actual rules, like the 140-character limit per message. Rather, take time to learn the Twitter culture and how it's different. A prime example: The "always be closing" sales mentality isn't likely to generate much of a payoff. You should look to prove a return on investment, whether you're spending actual dollars, employee time, or other resources, but think beyond a pure sales and marketing mentality.
Another thing to remember is that Twitter, for the most part, is a conversation, a dialogue. You need to listen as well as talk, and you need to monitor the conversation to find out what people are saying about your company and its products. It isn't hard to become active on Twitter, but you should give some thought to what you want to accomplish and develop a plan for how you are going to participate. Fortunately, a growing number of tools can help.
Even the most conservative, laissez-faire social media strategies should incorporate some element of listening. As a commenter on a recent social story said: "Your brand and industry is being talked about on the networks. There is only one question: Are you part of the conversation?" The good news: There's a growing list of good monitoring tools to help you filter through the noise and amplify meaningful messages from customers and prospects. Be sure to check out The BrainYard's briefing on how to be a better listener on Twitter and other social media.
Now consider how your company could use Twitter to do better on 10 key tasks.