When it comes to Twitter, of ALL the social tools out there, I always here the following from corporate executives who are battling with their customers (sad state of affairs, eh wot?) every day:
I get blogs, and I get podcasts and wikis and we're trying to figure out this social networking 'thing' but I just don't get Twitter. I don't get it. I DON'T get it. I don't GET it. It seems like such a waste of time"
Well, as the following will show. It ain't a waste of time. Been saying that it was only a matter of time until the business uses would be uncovered and they are.
Take a look at this way.
- As I'm writing this, the guy who is probably the coolest managing editor on the planet, Josh Weinberger of CRM Magazine, is live tweeting (for those of you techno-Neanderthals, that means using Twitter to cover something live and then broadcast it to the, in this case, Weinberger network of followed and followers) a conference call with RIM and SAP announcing SAP CRM (and more enterprise applications) for the Blackberry. (Try here too) Not only are the updates nearly instant but JW's commentary is great besides.
- What about this customer service story blogged this week by the IT Toolbox SaaS Director Dennis Stevenson on Twitter and his Slideshare problems and how Slideshare employees answered him via Twitter due to a general Twitter post he made. One thing I didn't know is that "there is an ability to listen across the entire Twitterverse for particular text strings," according to Dennis S. Gotta find out how to do that.
- Salesforce.com and their social media maven Kingsley Joseph are ultra busy on Twitter with successforce announcements and salesforce announcements and Kingsley's cogent but pungent commentary on things social add up to a visible and noticeable and intelligent business presence via Twitter to networks that are interested e.g. followers and following so to speak.
- Tomas Kohl, an always astute and sometimes contentious CRM 2.0 observer/analyst/futurist/consultant writes about how Zappos uses Twitter to network among (not with per se) their employees and how they even rank them for the number of Twitter followers they have and allow their customers to correspond in 140 characters or less with those employees (about 270 use them) (Zappos_alfred seems to be the jefe with 601 followers). Zappos, if you haven't ordered from them, is an online shoe store with thousands of brands in all sizes and colors that TRULY gets it. Just ordered some serious walking shoes from them yesterday. Thank you, TK.
These are brief and few but there are many examples out on the web. Here's an aggregator post on Twitter for business. You'll note, that right now, its small time and its primarily the kind of business done over a drink in a manner of speaking. But the potential is there for a lot more.
Marketing is obviously a key application of Twitter but there are some dangers inherent in it. Too much pushing (as is going on with one unnamed person I'm following) and its like having your conversations constantly interrupted with "OMG! I'm amazing. I'm ON TV BIG TIME! HELP SELL ME! I'M TOO MUCH FOR WORDS - AT LEAST FOR OVER 140 CHARACTERS!!!" ad nauseum. That can be irritating because this is a highly personalized albeit short message communications platform. No one wants the ego of another in the way. Rather than corporate marketing hype, the hype gets personal and interferes.
But if used effectively, as salesforce.com is doing, they become participants in the conversation among friends at the bazaar. Information about events or positive articles are looked upon with curiosity and interest and traffic goes to them through the hyperlink (in the form most of the time of a "tinyurl." Twitter's potential for that is limitless. As a marketing, microblogging tool, customer service tool, networking tool and community participation tool.
Not too shabby for the one that few seem to get.