Monday, September 28, 2009

An Interesting Story on the Power of Twitter

Since my last post on using Twitter as a business development tool, I've had several emails from friends who continue to question the staying power of Twitter. They argue that Twitter is a short term phenomenon with limited value for marketers and one that will fade out quickly.

Well, I can't say how long Twitter will be "the next big thing", but I can tell you that today, it is a very big thing. With over 32 million users -- up 700% over the past year according to eMarketer -- Twitter is a legitimate social networking tool that reaches a lot of people in a short period of time. The power and potential of this new communication tool was reinforced last week when I heard a presentation on Twitter and Social Media from Warren Sukernek, Director of Content at Radian 6.

Warren related his own personal story about the power of Twitter and how it helped him to land a new job. Last December, Warren was laid off. He had been actively engaged with Twitter for some time, so he sent this tweet

Friends, I've just been laid off. As a digital strategist, I would appreciate any leads or opportunities that you would be aware of. THX.

That afternoon, he got 250 responses that resulted in 20 interviews and 4 job offers. ALL IN 3 WEEKS FROM JUST ONE TWEET.

Warren's incredible story was featured locally on KING-5 TV, and later picked up by Fortune, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and several websites. His story is a reinforcement to me of the power of social networking.

Warren's presentation was an inside look at how to use Twitter as part of a total Social Media Toolbox to build your personal or company brand and to gain awareness and credibility among a wide audience. But he cautioned everyone that "you can't just join Twitter and tweet. You've got to build a network before you need it".

Warren's story is just one of many social networking success stories. That's why I've become an advocate of using Twitter as part of your business development strategy. You should be extending your reach, building your credibility, connecting with thought-leaders, sharing content and engaging in the conversation through blogs, white papers, and Twitter. Whether Twitter is long term isn't relevant. It can be a powerhouse today.

I encourage you to view Warren's presentation on SlideShare at You'll get a lot of good ideas on how to get more value out of social media tools. And maybe, just maybe, a new way to build business for your agency.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Using Twitter As A Business Development Tool

While many ad agencies are finally acknowledging the power of integrating social media into their business development program, very few are using Twitter. I hear several reasons why Twitter is not used:
  • It's only used by kids and will die out soon.
  • Where's the value - who cares what someone had for breakfast?
  • You can't really say much in 140 characters.
  • I don't have the time it takes to monitor all of the traffic.

After studying how b-to-c companies are successfully using Twitter as a business development tool, I have come to the conclusion that Twitter may be the most powerful b-to-b new business tool your agency can have in your new business program. Here's why:

1. Twitter is not just a kid's fad that will soon die out. According to Forrester, much of Twitter's recent growth is coming from adults, not kids. In a recent study, more than 75% of online adults are using social media on a regular basis, and the fastest growing social medium among this age group is Twitter. Both Nielsen Online and comScore have noted the phenomenal year-to-year growth of Twitter, reporting monthly percentage increases of 1,500% or more.

Social media analysts have observed that adults use social media in very different ways than teens and young adults. While the younger set uses FaceBook and MySpace as a more casual sharing of daily activities and real time reaction to external events, adults use social media as an information resource. This makes Twitter an excellent way to position your agency as a thought-leader on a variety of subjects. It's a great way to build awareness among your prospect target list, and also a way to actually start a conversation without having to fight through spam filters and voice mail.

2. Twitter is a valuable resource to give you a real time picture of the hottest topics in the industry. The most valuable asset of Twitter is that it provides real time information. It allows you to monitor what is being said today by and about your industry, your firm, and your competitors - something that is always important to know. But more importantly from a business development standpoint, Twitter gives you real time information and insight into what is being said about your clients and prospects.

To be successful in starting a conversation with a new business prospect, you need to know what's on their mind. In my experience, one of the best questions you can ask a prospect is "what keeps you awake at night?" Twitter can give an agency that answer and allow you the opportunity to address the most pressing industry or company issues as a way to start a conversation with a prospect. As I have said in previous posts, many clients are simply overwhelmed with the pace of change and the information explosion that the digital revolution has created. Agencies that understand the client's issues and can offer a solution have a much better chance of new business success.

3. The long term value of Twitter (and all social media) for b-to-b marketing is the opportunity to provide valuable content, not sales messages or minutiae. Twitter and other social media are a great way to provide a valuable statement about your agency without using an overt selling message. Social media can position your agency as a thought-leader and a valuable resource of information and insight to a prospect. The 140-character short form of Twitter can actually be an advantage over long form content, such as white papers or blogs, by initiating an interaction with the prospect that might not otherwise happen.

One of the best practice ways to use Twitter is to provide an intriguing statement that links to a more detailed discussion of that topic. Through that link, Twitter can get a prospect to visit your site or blog and hopefully see more that interests them. It's a non-threatening way for the prospect to gain awareness of your agency that they can then pursue if they choose. At the very least, you've made them aware of your agency as a resource and an asset in an area they have interest in knowing more about.

4. Twitter does require a time commitment, but new aggregation and evaluation tools can make the job easier for you. As Twitter continues to grow in popularity, a number of tools are now available to help you manage your activity. I use TweetDeck to help me organize and monitor my Twitter activity. Tweets are arranged chronologically, and it can be daunting to view that string and determine which are more important to read. TweetDeck provides a dashboard that allows me to group the people I am following (or the subject on which I am searching) into a manageable array. Other tools like Twitter Grader and TweetCloud can help you evaluate the relevance and influence of the people or companies you are following so that you can make the best use of your time.

If you don't want to spend your day constantly monitoring and updating your tweets, you can use a tool like TweetLater to schedule your outbound messages. That way you can devote a specified time each day to reviewing other content and planning your own tweets, or re-tweets.

If you're unsure about what to do and how to use social media, you're not alone. Many companies are struggling with the same issues. But it's the ones who figure out how to take advantage of these new technologies that will gain a leg up on their competition.

As I said earlier, I believe that Twitter may be the most valuable social media tool you can use for your new business efforts. Are you ready to start the conversation?