Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sustaining your reputation on Twitter

At a breakfast meeting of PR and marketing communications professionals in Broomfield, CO yesterday, five of us discussed how a social media tool such as Twitter can be used to reach customers and convince them to make purchases.

That question, by itself, has a simple answer: it can't. However, utilizing Twitter as one tool of a broader marketing mix of tactics can help position your product or service for greater exposure among audiences that otherwise might not know what you offer--and you get that at no cost. Assumedly, your tweets have been customized to reach the right tweeple (I loved writing that!) and include links to a web site or blog with more information about that product/service.

In one sense, Twitter is just another channel to deliver a message to a targeted audience. But in another sense, being on Twitter has a perceived value (real or not) that helps sustain the communicator's reputation and potentially the product or service. Sustain a reputation? Don't you mean enhance it?

Not really. Nowadays, everyone is on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn (MySpace is definitely yesterday's papers) and we feel compelled to participate in the social media conversation. It's an unspoken contract and what's more important is that a growing number of our customers expect communicators, in particular, to participate even if they don't know why.

So when it comes to measuring the impact of tweeting about your product or service, the question is one about quality more than quantity. It's not what you gain by doing it. It's about what you stand to lose--being perceived as out of touch, uninformed, not up-to-date--if you're NOT tweeting. And if you're out of touch, what does that say about your product or service? (As an aside, evaluating the success of your marketing tactics is always important and Aaron Uhrmacher has a helpful blog post called How to Measure Social Media ROI for Business.)

Twitter has brought us all back in time to high school where you absolutely must be fashionable. I suppose I'm willing to go along with it, just as long as they don't bring back big hair and mullets.

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