Twitter for Business in the Regional Market: Expediting the Path to Where We Want It to Go

It’s been noted in various publications and articles I’ve been reading that Twitter as a business tool is rapidly gaining momentum.  However, it’s not at the place that Facebook and LinkedIn are at, and for good reason – I do think those two platforms have more to offer a business in terms of the business being able to project its image in creative ways and easily connect itself to its publics.  However, Twitter can serve a great purpose as well.  In this age of instant gratification, people want connection and content reception quickly and directly, and Twitter can help a business reach its target audiences in ways that are efficient, widespread, and, of course, fun.

I work in the Hudson Valley region of New York, so the tips I’m going to give now are best-suited for a medium-sized regional market.

First, know your audiences.  Studies have shown that the 55+ crowd on Facebook is increasing at a rapid pace, whereas teens and young adults are steadily leaving in favor of Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Vine.  However, the younger crowd can still connect with their places of employment and companies that provide services to them, and Twitter is wonderful for this.  As a company, you can set up a profile on the site and refer clients to it through traditional platforms, such as print ads, radio ads, and good old-fashioned word of mouth.  If your contacts don’t have Twitter, stress the importance of setting up an account in order to remain on the pulse of what’s happening in your particular business.

Then, once you’ve built up a small follower base, you create your content.  “But, Nick,” you ask, “what kind of content do I post that would be engaging and encouraging for my audience to retweet, favorite, and share?”  Well, there are a bunch of different things you could do.

1. Current market trends.  I’ve often found that professional services organizations post content that will brand the company as being “with it” in their industry.  Of course, social media is about the here and now, so if there’s nothing happening in your company that you think is worth tweeting, share a link to an interesting article pertaining to your field.  People might read it and gain some insights.  And they’ll appreciate that you posted it.  And maybe they’ll follow you.  Check out PricewaterhouseCoopers at @PwC_LLP (>49,000 followers) and Deloitte at @Deloitte (>158,000 followers).

2. The human aspect.  Don’t forget, Twitter is still full of people who take pictures of a recent snowstorm, a batch of cupcakes, sunrises in Florida, or their cat.  When they’re not taking selfies in the bathroom, of course.  In this way, make your company more transparently human on Twitter.  People will connect with ideas and situations with which they’re familiar, and if your company tweets that kind of resonant content, your follows will see you as just another one of their friends.   TD Bank is a great example because they frequently post photos of their employees doing fun things, and they ask questions of their audiences that facilitate a connection that’s more personal than simple B2C interaction.  Check them out at @TDBank_US (22,500 followers).

3. Thought leadership.  Thought leaders are people who offer expertise within their field and are considered the foremost experts in that field, such that their competitors respect them for their insight and consumers will look to do business with them above others due to their intelligence, experience, and sometimes even approachability.  This concept is helpful if your company has held a reputation in your region for providing the highest-quality services for a very long time (let’s say at least thirty years).  Also, if the managing partners or chief officers of your company are recognized and respected in the region as being leaders in their industry and the surrounding community, they would make perfect thought leaders.  If they are frequently seen speaking at events or giving lectures, link a video of it to your Twitter feed.  If they blog, link that to the Twitter feed.  If they won an award or recently attended an event where they met an influential figure, make sure a picture of that is linked to the Twitter feed.  When people see this side of your company, chances are, you’ll get more leads and your brand will build itself toward its goals.  Check out Hikmet Ersek, CEO of Western Union at @WesternUnionCEO (>2,400 followers) and Bill Gates at @billgates (>14.8 million followers).

4. Promotions.  Let’s say you have a short-term sales goal that needs to be fulfilled.  Companies often use Twitter to provide promotions and discounts to its followers.  “The first five people to favorite this tweet will get a $20 promo code for their next visit!”  “If you retweet this times in y amount of time, you’ll receive z!”  You get the idea.  The better the incentive, the easier it will be for you to obtain followers.  Check out @NakedPizza, a New Orleans-based pizza chain that really exemplifies what I’m talking about (>21,000 followers), and @kogibbq, a Korean BBQ taco truck in Los Angeles that uses Twitter to tell its followers where it’s going to be in the city for lunch and dinner breaks (115,000 followers).

So, I think that’s a good place to start.  Again, these insights are geared towards a medium-sized regional market, so if your business maintains active relationships with other businesses in your area, you all should try and get on Twitter.  If you’ve got a consumer base that you think will use it, it’s a great way for your clients to constantly stay connected to your happenings, offerings and developments, and as your Twitter feed grows, you just might see some growth of your own in the real world!

If you like what you read, feel free to share.  And please join me next week when I do a Super Bowl Ad Recap.  Oh, and don’t think you’re leaving without finding me on Twitter at @HeyNickNappo.  😉  See you soon!

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6 thoughts on “Twitter for Business in the Regional Market: Expediting the Path to Where We Want It to Go

  1. There was an interesting reference that David Meerman Scott used about Twitter in our “The New Rules of Marketing and PR (4th ed) text. It pretty much said Twitter can be compared to the interlude when women go to the ladies’ room and talk about the guys and the guys talk about the ladies while they wait (p. 55). Just thought this was a good concept for marketers to keep in mind as they apply social media to their communication strategies. Thanks for such an enlightening post.

  2. Nice post! I agree that Twitter is viewed as less credible as a business and networking tool than LinkedIn, but believe there is great opportunity to continue to build it as as a more professional platform. One thing I notice professionals doing with Twitter is retweeting interesting content related to their field and posing questions, as you mentioned, thought leadership. Twitter can be used to easily broadcast new ideas and stories related to a field as well as other established thought leaders’ content. Following important individuals in industries creates a professional network in itself, especially when you begin to pass along others messages and establish some sort of relationship. My concern is that many do not separate business and personal accounts, or should they? Do you think using Twitter as a professional platform means no personality included in Tweets, or should people showcase their identities along with business related messages?

    • If you’re using Twitter as a professional platform, I don’t think you need to rule out the personal side of your work because that’s a major attraction factor for your followers. They do want to receive content from which they can learn and apply to their careers, but sometimes they may want a break from that in lieu of something that will resonate with them on a personal level. Of course, the majority of your tweets will pertain to business, but like any well-balanced human being, there are sides to you that are less formal, so perhaps you’ll post something that shows the personal side of your company. Don’t get too personal, though. For example, if you’re a CEO, you don’t need to post pictures of a restaurant you visited or a recent fishing trips. Keep all of your posts related to the company, and include a mix of the business and the personal sides of your operation. That, to me, is an intriguing Twitter feed.

  3. Great insights about Twitter! As a person who works in PR for toy-related clients, I can say that all of my clients have Twitter accounts and actively use them. As David Scott points out in our book, social media allows companies to communicate with buyers in places they are congregating right now. For my industry in particular, the companies I work with want to reach moms directly, as they are the main purchaser of toys. Many moms are using Twitter, in particular mom bloggers who are important to reach for my clients, as they often have influence in their community and can help to spread the word to other moms. You mentioned promotions, and this is something that my clients have used to promote a certain product. Something else my clients will do is Tweet out links to media coverage that we secure for them, whether it’s a link to the TODAY show or an article on a website that mentions the company. This helps to raise awareness for the company. I think it will be interesting to see how Twitter continues to evolve in the coming years.

  4. Nick! I truly enjoyed reading your post. I was intrigued just from your blog page title and sub-title. I commend you for having worthwhile thoughts even when brushing your teeth. As I have started to read “Likable Media”, and thought about my own business, I see how relevant Twitter can truly be. The crux of your blog outlining the 4 types of content is a sure fire winner sir! The fourth type, thought leadership, is one of the most powerful in my opinion. A company allows their ideas, competence, and expertise speak for them as the crowd “follows” (pun intended). I think it is even more poignant when one can do that in the midst of 140 characters. The brevity of tweets shows a master understanding of a particular concept, because one can communicate it plainly. The brevity also intrigues followers to anticipate the next tweet. The name of the game in the 21st century is how one best leverages social media. It is an amazing time to be a marketing practitioner. Excellent work Nick!

  5. Nick – your post definitely made me think differently about using Twitter for business. I’ve never used Twitter before this week’s assignment. I find the use of “#” and “@” to be confusing when reading people’s tweets. And with no more than 140 characters I found myself asking “What is this person trying to say?” You made some great examples of how companies can use twitter to accomplish various goals.

    Kristen

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