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TWTRCON: Putting it all into practice

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Digital Technology

This post is from SmartBrief on Social Media contributing editor Ambreen Ali, who is at TWTRCON, the first conference entirely focused on Twitter as a business platform.

TWTRCON panelists covered a lot of ground, providing some great insight into how businesses can take advantage of Twitter. Here are a few highlights:

Know your strategy

Comcast’s Frank Eliason gave a great example of how a company’s social media objective reflects its execution. “I don’t strive for followers,” he said in an afternoon panel at TWTRCON. “That’s not what it is about for us. We’re there to provide customer service.”

Marketer Stefanie Nelson of Dell Outlet agreed, saying it’s important to go into social media with an objective. “This is nothing new,” she adds, likening social media strategy to those developed for the Internet last decade.

Monetize your efforts

Nelson, like Beth Mansfield of Carl’s Jr. and Mike Prasad of Kogi BBQ, said Twitter is making her money. For Mansfield, sometimes that means tweeting about burgers right before lunch to get users into her restaurants. Other times, it’s providing wit. “I like chicken, but not the nuggets,” she wrote
once, taking a stab at both McDonald’s and sports rival Denver Nuggets. “It’s important to be funny. I say dude a lot.”

“Twitter doesn’t make money directly, but it allows you to broadcast a personality,” Prasad says. That personality translates into dollars: When his restaurant generates online buzz about a menu special, they can see its sales shoot up, he says.

Tell the story well

Business meetings usually start with small talk. Very rarely do people just get down to business. The same is true online, says Twitterville author Shel Israel. He says that marketing has evolved from “old marketing,” which was a one-way broadcast, to “conversational marketing.” In today’s world, storytelling is king.

Israel tells the story of David @Armano, a well-known Chicago tweeter who helped raise $6,500 in five days for a single mom to leave her abusive husband. Not only was the story compelling, but he followed it up with
updates on how Danielle and her three kids were doing.

“Twitter is the fastest way to pass out information,” says Israel, a member of our Social Media Advisory Board. “But it’s just one of the social media tools used to tell a story.”

Get your company on board

Sometimes the biggest challenge to implementing social media is your company’s culture. EBay’s Richard Brewer-Hay recalls that he was told to delete tweets because they were being re-tweeted out of context. “Instead, I added a hashtag that put them in context and gave them a timestamp,” he

Figure out what your company considers appropriate to tweet, advises Jeannette Gibson of Cisco, and who has the best personality for Twitter. “It doesn’t have to be your CEO,” she says.

Social media listening can present a legal challenge, too.

“The more you look at the legalities of participating in the social web, the more frightening it is,” says Brian Solis, a principal at FutureWorks. “It’s really easy to get a lawsuit against you. But the more strategic and
proactive you are online, the better your case.”

Bottom line: It requires strategy, forethought, and persistence, but your company needs to be on Twitter. Your customers already are.