IT pro Rick Vanover discusses the benefits of Twitter-based social networking for organizations. Can your company afford to lose this additional outreach and branding opportunity?
In a very short time, Twitter has gone from an obscure segment of the Web to a must-have for business identities. Twitter provides a great opportunity for individuals and organizations to connect and exchange information. While there are plenty of concerns, such as information leakage, liability, security, management, and interruption effect, there are also benefits for organizations. These benefits include quick delivery, branding opportunities, and enhanced marketing opportunities.
From the organizational perspective, social networking is bucketed into emerging media or extended marketing segments. Organizations have found various ways to develop an additional brand on the professional-based social media outlets including Twitter. Many companies have Twitter feeds that provide everything from alerts to new blog posts to breaking news and political messages. One example of a popular Twitter feed is @cnnbrk, with over 1.3 million followers. News is a natural choice for Twitter, as a rapid-fire delivery method works well. Beyond news, other organizations have a great opportunity as well.
Twitter is unique among many of the social media sites in that there are many ways to experience it. This can be through the many number of applications available for everything from smart phones to text messaging. There also is an API for programmatic approaches to automatically indexing and digesting tweets that contain keywords of interest. This can help an organization monitor what is being posted with keywords of interest to a company, as well as get information on membership and follow patterns. One good way to get started in this regard for news and blog posts is to use TwitterFeed without investing a lot in programming or application management. Aside from Twitter, organizations can benefit from utilizing sites like YouTube to enhance the online branding with multimedia options. This is important since Twitter does not offer much of a multimedia experience natively. This can include commercials, product information, or other stuff that may be too expensive for other advertising outlets.
What's clear is that Web tools like Twitter will definitely lead to referral traffic to news, product information, sales offers, and other information that people are interested in. It's not clear, however, if this directly leads to revenue. This applies to the more social-focused traffic sites such as MySpace and FaceBook as well. The concepts of friends, fans, followers, and walls is very similar across these sites, but there aren't success stories of large followings translating to dollars. Yet in spite of this, organizations have to participate. Building a brand following on these avenues is one objective, but protecting a brand from false representatives is another.
Now that we have the concept of building a brand down, what actually happens with Twitter traffic? If the traffic posted on Twitter is linked back to a company Web site, tracking information should be readily available through existing tools. If URL trimming tools such as Bit.Ly, tr.im, is.gd or TinyURL are used, tracking and referral information can be obtained there also. This can also be a slight risk, as some of the referral traffic on these sites is publicly accessible.
With this information, there are benefits to having a Twitter presence. Twitter's popularity doesn't require explanation, nor does the opportunity cost of losing a new market.