Business Tweets: Tweeting Before The Store Doors Open!



How one New Jersey Best Buy store used Twitter to create a connection with the local community before it was even open for business

The retail giant Best Buy first stumbled into the social media history books last summer when it announced that it was looking to hire a marketing person who had a university degree – and at least 250 followers on Twitter! The criteria was met with guffaws in the twitterverse, but left the electronics retail chain undeterred in forging ahead with its plans to grab hold of the new medium of social media.

Since its slightly ungainly entrance into the world of social media, Best Buy has come a long way, establishing a Facebook account with over 1 million fans, including its Twitter account in television commercials, and empowering its employees to tweet with a measure freedom few companies allow. Best Buy is a corporation that “gets” social media and gains by giving its employees the freedom to join in the conversation.

One Best Buy employee, John Knoeppel, took the initiative to start tweeting on behalf of a local New Jersey store before the store doors were even opened, connecting to the community and creating fans before the shelves were stocked. It is an initiative other retailers and businesses would be wise to consider.

John explained that he first opened a personal account on Twitter in February of 2009, but that he “didn’t really ‘get it.’” Shortly afterwards, however, he was selected to help open a new Best Buy store in Eatowntown, New Jersey, as an assistant manager. “I thought it [Twitter] would be a new and interesting way to get to know the local community.” Interestingly, he opened the store account five months before the store was even open for business: http://Twitter.com/EatontownBB

I happened upon the Twitter account while doing a search of New Jersey-based twitterers, aiming to create more local connections. Though I realized the account was for a store, I thought that I would follow along to see how the account was handled. To my surprise, its tweets were personal, fun and engaging. The account was plainly being managed by someone who understood the fundamental requirement of social media: being social.

Because the account was managed in a social and “real” way, its presence created a bond that no newspaper ad or advance television commercial could have achieved. Even without opening its doors, the Eatontown store was building up brand awareness and loyalty.  Even more so, it was making a connection to likely consumers that said, "We're a store with people who care about who you are and when you shop here, you'll already know us, not a 'bot,' but real people."

Refreshingly, John, who tweets for his Eatontown, New Jersey store, said:

To me, all of social media is personal. I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, and a Best Buy employee. I don’t separate who I am online….the people I talk to online expect me to be social….The same guy you tweet online is the same guy you will meet in the store or out with friends and family.

So what does John tweet about?

I tweet that I took my kids to a water park in Asbury Park [NJ] and recommended it to everyone. I usually tweet a review after my wife and I go out to dinner or about a community event Best Buy is attending. I don’t separate the two. I am who I am.

John noted that in his tweeting he tries to support local community events and even other local businesses as well. He explained that his tweeting can be “pretty random,” but that he does direct message a lot “to let people know that I appreciate their RT’s and follows.”

John also uses the account to share information about store hiring and the company website.


John’s advice for others?

1. Have a purpose. Know what you want to get out of social media.

2. Follow interesting people and RT their information.

3. Be social. It’s not always about business, business, business….Who are you, what do you know about me, and how can we help each other.

4. Get involved in your local community. There are so many people in the Twitterverse that are in need of some sort of assistance. Help them. It will pay dividends.

5. Don’t be a bot…Believe it or not, people read what you post and it’s not hard to tell a bot from a human.

New FTC Rules: Biz & Bloggers Beware

Speaking of caveats/warnings, it must be noted that while the writer of this post is an Attorney at Law, the content of this post is general in nature and should not be relied upon as an assessment of the Law/FTC Rules/Guidelines as they may or may not apply to specific circumstances…(Whew! – Needed to get that out of the way!)




So what’s the big deal? Some businesses and bloggers tango together: a company may send a sample product to a blogger and a blogger may blog about it. Who cares?...The FTC does, that’s who -- and so should you.

The FTC? The Federal Trade Commission, an independent agency of the U.S. government created and tasked by Congress with administering a wide variety of consumer protection laws. The Commission is empowered to adopt rules to protect consumers against “unfair and deceptive acts or practices,” most notably in the arena of advertising.

New FTC guidelines, effective December 1, 2009, change the tempo of the tango between businesses and bloggers. Adopting revised “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” 16 CFR 255, the Commission rules include “new forms of consumer-generated media, such as the use of blogs in word of mouth marketing campaigns.”

Elaborating on the change in advertising mediums and expansion of the duty to disclose sponsored endorsements, the Commission noted that when it adopted its Guides in 1980, “endorsements were disseminated by advertisers – not by the endorsers themselves – through such traditional media as television commercials and print advertisements. With such media, the duty to disclose material connections between the advertiser and the endorser naturally fell on the advertiser.” With the advent of consumer-generated content, i.e., “new media,” the rules have changed and burdens have shifted.

This post does not address the obligations imposed on celebrities or experts, but focuses, instead, on the obligations imposed on bloggers and advertisers.

Some Highlights of the New Guidelines

• Whether or not “new media,” “consumer-generated content” falls within the definition of regulated “endorsement” will depend on a “case-by-case” analysis.

What businesses and bloggers may find most troubling about the revised guidelines is the absence of bright-line parameters of conduct: the guidelines are not triggered by a specific dollar value of a gift to a blogger, but by a consideration of a variety of factors. The Commission noted that “the fundamental question is whether, viewed plainly, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered ‘sponsored’ by the advertiser and therefore an ‘advertising message.’”

Factors weighed in determining whether a blog post would be considered “sponsored” include whether the product or service being discussed in the post was provided for free by the advertiser or its agent to the blogger; the terms of any agreement between the blogger and the product or service manufacturer or provider; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services, and the value of the items or services received.

The circumstances that determine whether a blog post would be deemed “sponsored” are, according to the Commission, “extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated.” So how do you know if your post would be considered an “endorsement” requiring the disclosure of any relationship between yourself and the subject of your blog? If the question exists in your mind, chances are you would be obliged to make a disclosure.

Even a single item of merchandise from a marketer may trigger the obligations imposed on “sponsored” endorsements. In such a case, the value of the good or service may be deemed the determining factor.

On the other hand, the Commission also noted under some circumstances, such as where a blogger may receive “a stream of free merchandise,” “disclosure of the the connection between the speaker and the advertiser will likely be warranted regardless of the monetary value of the free product provided by the advertiser.”

• The FTC considers the blogger, “the endorser,” “the party primarily responsible for disclosing material connections with the advertiser.”

The sponsoring entity, in turn, is obliged to: 1) inform the blogger of the blogger’s obligation to disclose the sponsorship, 2) monitor the blogger to ensure that the disclosure is provided by the blogger, and 3) cease future sponsorships if the blogger fails to disclose the sponsorship.

• Businesses may be responsible for the excessive claims of a blogger where the business or marketer initiated contact with the blogger and created a sponsored relationship and review.

Businesses are not free to simply send their products to bloggers and not pay attention to the claims bloggers may make about the products when those claims exceed the actual benefits of the product.

“This product is positively the best around and can do incredible things! It’ll make you happier, stronger, more alert, more alluring, etc., etc.” Such a ringing endorsement from a blogger might have, in the past, brought broad smiles to the faces of business representatives who supplied free goods or services to the blogger. Under the new FTC guidelines, exaggerated claims of “sponsored” bloggers may not merely impose liabilities upon the blogger, but also upon the advertiser, i.e., the manufacturer of the goods or provider of the services or its agents.

Specifically, the Commission noted, “if the advertiser initiated the process that led to these endorsements being made, e.g., by providing products to well-known bloggers or endorsers enrolled in a word of mouth marketing programs – it potentially is liable for misleading statements made by those consumers.”

Businesses are well advised to not to blanket bloggers with free samples or services. Care should be exercised in determining which bloggers to approach with such initiatives and care should equally be exercised in explicitly informing the blogger of the requirement of disclosure of the sponsorship (and, possibly, parameters regarding claims about the product or service).

Where a blogger fails to disclose the sponsorship of the blog post, the Commission offered that it would, “in the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion,” “consider the advertiser’s efforts to advise the endorsers of their responsibilities and to monitor their online behavior in determining what action, if any, would be warranted.”

Without directly stating so, the Commission even seems to suggest some action being taken by an advertiser, something other than simply not continuing a relationship with the blogger, where a blogger fails to disclose the sponsored relationship. What action that might be is left unanswered, though it would be reasonable to consider efforts by the advertiser to reach the blogger’s audience to communicate the omission or excessive claims.

Citing an example of college student blogger who receives a free video game system to review, the Commission observed that in such an instance readers are unlikely to know that the reviewer received the gaming system free of charge, a factor that “likely would materially affect the credibility they attach to his endorsement.” In such an instance, the blogger “should clearly and conspicuously disclose that he received the gaming system free of charge.” An independent obligation exists with the manufacturer who is obliged to advise the blogger “at the time it provides the gaming system that this connection should be disclosed, and it should have procedures in place to try and monitor his postings for compliance.”

Some Takeaways for Bloggers and Businesses

The obligation to disclose a connection between a blogger and an advertiser falls “primarily” on the blogger, but is also shared by the advertiser.

The determination of whether a blog post is deemed an “endorsement” and, therefore, regulated commercial speech, creating unique liabilities on a blogger and advertiser, depends on a variety of factors, resting on a case-by-case analysis.

There are no bright-line borders for determining whether a blog would be deemed an endorsement: a series of free products to a blogger might trigger it or even a single item or service, depending on the value of it – or other factors - could trigger it.

Both the advertiser and blogger are “subject to liability for misleading or unsubstantiated representations made in the course of the [sponsored] blogger’s endorsement.”

Where a blogger’s representations were misleading, the FTC would consider the advertiser’s efforts to advise the endorsers of their responsibilities.

A blogger “is also liable if she fails to disclose clearly and conspicuously that she is being paid for her services.”

Advertisers who initiate contact with a blogger with the aim of obtaining a blog about a product or service are obliged to inform the blogger at the time of the giving of the product or service of the blogger’s obligation to disclose the connection between the blogger and the advertiser (i.e., the free gift or service or compensation) AND the advertiser is obliged to monitor the blogger for compliance with the disclosure requirements and representations made concerning the characteristics of the product or service.

• The FTC noted that while traditional media ads are typically inherently obvious to viewers as being sponsored endorsements, the same is not true of new media, where the failure of a blogger to disclose a relationship with the advertiser could leave the reader without the ability to discern a connection that would otherwise reasonably weigh in the weight a reader might give to a blog if that connection had been disclosed.

Advertisers who sponsor bloggers should establish procedures to advise bloggers of their responsibility to make disclosure and to monitor the blog to ensure compliance with this obligation.

• The FTC has not specified the procedures advertiser should put into place to monitor compliance with the Guides, leaving that responsibility to advertisers.

The full text of the Code revisions may be found at:  

http://bit.ly/78d50a

The FTC website may be visited at:

http://www.ftc.gov/

To file a complaint with the FTC under the new guidelines, consumers may visit:

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

47 Random Twitter Tips By @TrendTracker #SocialMedia



1. #TwitterTip Great tweeting requires the same as great writing: that you share a part of yourself.

2. #TwitterTip Want anemic growth in followers? Don't follow back.

3. #TwitterTip What to tweet? Study and share what you learn. Find us good links!

4. #TwitterTip How to handle haters on Twitter? Unfollow and keep positive.

5. #TwitterTip Remember, someone is always listening to you in the Twitter stream.

6. #TwitterTip Content is king in social media. ID good producers and harvest their fields often.

7. #TwitterTip NEWBIES: Get a bio up before u start following so ur not mistaken 4 spam & blocked.

8. #TwitterTip Periodically review ur Twitter brand for improvement: ur avatar, bio, pg - ur tweeting.

9. #TwitterTip Listen to and respond to fair criticism: it'll benefit you - and your followers!

10. #TwitterTip The more you show yourself, the better your tweeting becomes!

11. #TwitterTip Check out the twitter stream of those who RT u - ur likely to find gold!

12. #TwitterTip Have fun with it. You won't break it. (Unless, of course, ur a Russian agent after a Georgian blogger.)

13. #TwitterTips BRANDS, u invite public tongue-lashings by not following back and letting customers DM u w/ complaints!

14. #TwitterTip Start each morning with a walk...Yes, that's really a twitter tip - helps mood and creativity!

15. #TwitterTip Unless you're James Bond or a radio station, skip the numbers after your name.

16. #TwitterTip What to do if your name is taken on Twitter instead of adding numbers? Tell more: NYCJane, JoeScuba

17. #TwitterTip: Want someone to RT you? RT them.

18. #TwitterTip Twitter is a "social" network: please don't ask us to follow u if u don't plan to follow us!

19. #TwitterTip Cast a big net: make your following geographically diverse. It'll help you in travel - and in thought!

20. #TwitterTip If you're going to blog about Twitter, include a link to your Twitter page. http://Twitter.com/TrendTracker (Don't worry, feel free to place your info here!)

21. #TwitterTip Don't stress about losing followers: what remains will be a stronger, more effective tribe.

22. Twitter Tip Use apps to pace your tweets and cross time zones - the Twitterverse is a global community.

23. #TwitterTip Create a categorized library of your niche tweets so that you can share help quickly.

24. #TwitterTip "Why tweet often?" Simple answer: share as you learn and we'll learn too!

25. #TwitterTip Build a "tribe" by being honest & open & social - they'll stick with you when there's trouble!

26. #TwitterTip Follow the tweeps who retweet you - you obviously share some interests!

27. #TwitterTip Keep a nearby list of star twitterers to visit for key content.

28. #TwitterTip When U find a tweet worth RTing, look at twitterer's stream for more nuggets!

29. #TwitterTip Follow niche leaders - and those they follow - to find good content providers.

30. #TwitterTip Know that there will be misstakes [sic] - just clean them up as quickly as you can – or if they’re small, move on!

31. #TwitterTip Twitter is not a private club. Be yourself, of course, but polite, social and share.

32. #TwitterTip Everyone likes a party, so throw one for your niche! (See #WoofWednesday, #MusicMonday.)

33. #TwitterTip We’re “tweeting” on “Twitter” – it’s okay to use character-saving words like “tweeps” – just don’t overdo it!

34. #TwitterTip When you find good content, share it: it's part of why we’re here!

35. #TwitterTip BRANDS and CELEBS: Be "social." - RT every now and then!

36. #TwitterTip If your name is dfXy357, you're being blocked. Blame it on your parents.

37. #TwitterTip: Listen. Share. Follow. Engage. RT. Thank. Repeat.

38. #TwitterTip Use hashtags to target niche followers, e.g. #SocialMedia

39. #TwitterTip Want to deepen your friendships on Twitter? Ask for help - you'll be pleasantly surprised!

40. #TwitterTip See big typos in a tweet you tweeted? Delete old; resend corrected! :)

41. #TwitterTip Why do I constantly follow new people? To constantly discover new worlds.

42. #TwitterTip BRANDS: It's not enough that you have a Twitter account - you need to be social. Listen and share!

43. #TwitterTip Leaping, blinking avatars will get you noticed...and unfollowed.

44. #TwitterTip Don't under-estimate Twitter's power for good. Speak out. #IranElection

45. #TwitterTip Need tweeting content? Please feel free to use any of the above!  :)

46. #TwitterTip It’s OK to promote in modest measure AFTER u've shared good content, established trust, built a tribe.

47. #TwitterTip Be eager to give RTing credit - u'll build and strengthen your tribe!

Social Media: An Acronym

Social Media: An Acronym
for Learning & Sharing

Sign up.  Start.  Share.  It all starts with doing and sharing.  Sign up for a Twitter account, a Facebook page, LinkedIn, Digg, Flickr, WordPress, StumbleUpon, Blip.fm..."What the heck are all these things and how do I use them?"  Good questions.  Would take too long to go through all the details and nuances of each -- best that you sign up, start and share.  You'll learn most by doing.
O  Observe.  Observe what others are doing.  Identify those in the network you enjoy and figure out what it is they are doing that makes the experience with them so enjoyable so that you might emulate some of their winning ways.
C  Conversation and Content.  These are "social" networks.  People come here to share.  So do.  Converse.  Ask questions, share a thought, share a moment, but always remember that "Content is King."  "What does that phrase mean?"  It means that we are all thirsty for new information, to learn new things, to see cool stuff - so find it and share it.  It's okay to tell us when you've enjoyed a great meal or a nice coffee:  but don't make that the substance of your stream -- unless you're a distinguished chef.  Instead, hit us with your great aunt's best recipe for egg rolls or a link to great, truly awesome pictures.  We'll appreciate it and share it!
I Individuality.  By all means, be yourself!  Share who you are.  We want great content, but we also want to see a bit of you as well.  Our greatest experiences always revolve around others, the PEOPLE we meet.  We'll trust you more and like you more if you show some of your passions and personality. It'll make your experience, as well as ours, more enjoyable!
A  Accept.  Accept that you're going to make some mistakes.  Accept that not everyone is going to like you.  Accept that you'll see and hear a lot of nonsense along the way.  "Accepting" doesn't mean agreeing, it simply means to understand certain things will happen that you may not like or be able to control, but don't let it detract from all the wonderful  experiences and benefits of social media.
L  Listen.  Didn't we already cover that with the "O" for "Observation?"  No.  "Listen" is different from "Observe."  "Listen" contemplates engagement and conversation.  By listening in social media we really mean active listening that is the starting point of great conversation.  Pay attention to what others are saying -- not just about you, but about themselves as well.  Listen for insights into how you might be a better participant in the conversation or network.  Listen for the tenor of the conversation as well as the words.  Pause along the way to make sure you're still listening.
M  Modesty.  "'Modesty' on a social network?  You're joking, right?"  No.  I realize that for many the notion of social media and modesty may be an oxymoron, but it should be something you should constantly be mindful of as you gain confidence in your presence.  Regardless of how comfortable you may begin to feel with your network, bear in mind that in most cases you are still broadcasting to the world -- literally.  Oh it may be a conversation, as all good social media is, but, let that one moment get out of hand and your rant or picture or video will likely get bounced far beyond wherever you hoped it would land, and your world may change in big ways.
Another element of modesty is acknowledging those, whenever possible, who first shared with you the content you are sharing.  This will reap its own rewards in deepened connections and added sharing.
E  Enliven!  Enliven the conversation!  See a message from someone asking about something that you may have the answer to?  Let them know it, even if it's just a helpful insight.  Share what you have.  You will make new connections in the process of enlivening the conversation.  Stumble upon something particularly helpful or interesting, share it.  You have much to bring to the conversation!
D  Don't...  Don't forget the basics:  consideration, compassion, caring, politeness.  Coming to social media to have fun and maybe do a little bit of learning?  What you'll discover and remember most are the wonderfully caring and compassionate people you'll meet along the way.  Be one of them.
I  Invite.  Invite questions, comments, suggestions, help.  Invite others to discover the great things you've discovered.  Invite others to share their insights or tips.  Invite others to join you on your wonderful journey -- you'll need and want them along the way!
A  Arrive.  Arrive at where you want to be, but don't stop the journey or conversation.  "Okay, that sounds kind of cool and campy and crunchy, but what does that mean?"  It means to set goals.  Add to them and change them along the way.  As you do, and work on achieving those goals, you'll find yourself arriving at where you wanted to be.  Just don't linger too long because we're meant to keep learning and conversing and striving for new goals.  Social media is a wonderful place to do all three.

Wizard of Oz: 7 Social Media Lessons


Cowardly Lion: All right, I'll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I'll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I'm going in there....

There's only one thing I want you fellows to do.

Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow: What's that?

Cowardly Lion: Talk me out of it!

1. Begin the journey & don't let anyone talk you out of it!

The adventures you will encounter in social media will, truly, in many respects, be no less remarkable than the adventures encountered by that unlikely and timorous quartet that joined forces to go after their dreams in the Wizard of Oz. There are plenty of reasons not to begin the journey or to abandon the journey: fear of the known and unknown, limited resources, inexperience, unexpected obstacles, critics. However, just as in Oz where the journey offered the only real hope of achieving important goals, so, too, in today's world does social media offer the only hope of achieving many important goals, whether for an individual, business or non-profit.

...Now, more properly, one might have expected lesson number one to talk about planning. Sometimes, however, like the characters in Oz, we find ourselves swept up in a journey before we realize it's even begun, needing to learn and improvise along the way. It's how most journeys happen. Don't be discouraged by this: just know that you will need to learn and improvise along the way!

2. Be social.

'Be social?' We're only on lesson two and we're being told to 'Be social.' That's part of the problem! What does 'being social' mean in the world of social media!

Being "social" in the world of social media is like being social in the Wizard of Oz or, more simply, in the "real world." But let's stick with our analogy: take Dorothy, who almost assuredly would be referred to disparagingly by some as a "social media climber" because of her lack of formal pedigree, her "learn-as-you-go" approach, and her doggedness; yet, to others with discernment, she would be quickly recognized as a social media adept, someone with an innate knack for being "social":

  • She was always polite even under the most strenuous of circumstances and even when being insistent;

  • She knew how to make friends along the way: she would introduce herself, be transparent about her intentions, authentic about who she was and where she came from and where she wanted to go, and eager to help whenever she could;

  • She listened to what others were saying and shared her thoughts;

  • She was always eager to learn about and from others she met along the way.


 3. Build a team along the way.

  
Dorothy was expert at this. She did it in a social way, by simply talking with and helping others she met along the way. She was quick to invite others to join her in her journey. The best friends you'll meet in social media are those who share in the love of learning. As you offer to help them, they will offer to help you. Social media changes at such a dizzying pace that the team you build along the way will be able to assist you in many unexpected ways. Don't go it alone. Build a team by being social.

4. Know that it's okay to be scared along the way.

There's much to learn along the way in social media, much that is confusing, much that can be disheartening, scary. If you're accustomed to traditional PR and marketing, you'll quickly discover you're not in Kansas anymore.  Things are very different.  Centralized messaging doesn't work.  Indeed, "messaging" itself doesn't work if it's not part of a real conversation.  Work through your fears. The friends you make in social media, by chatting or tweeting with them, will help you overcome your fears and equip you better for your journey. What you do not have by way of knowledge in one area, those you have connected with along the may well have in abundance and you, likewise, for them. Ask, share, and learn.

5. Know that you will encounter unexpected obstacles  and "haters" along the way.

Along their way to Oz, the gradually-emboldened quartet found that they were besieged by many unexpected obstacles and "haters" - those who wanted to turn them back from achieving their goals. Know that you, too, will encounter many unexpected obstacles and a few such haters along the way, though most of the "haters" you will  encounter will be without the charm of those encountered by Dorothy and her companions. Do not be discouraged by the obstacles.  Work through them.  As to the "haters" - don't give them much of your time or energy. Move past them as quickly as you can.  And, whenever needed, turn to your social media companions for support.

6. Be yourself, know what makes you special, and celebrate it.

What endeared Dorothy to nearly everyone she met, was her simple, determined way, her honesty....Oh, yes...AND her ruby slippers. Now Dorothy was a plain country girl, yet, she had a pair of ruby slippers that were the talk of the town wherever she went. They helped make her who she was. Dorothy was smart enough to figure this out and not to take them off or give them away. What the heck am I talking about? Figure out what makes you special and be who you are. If you're true to yourself in social media and show a bit of who you really are, you will find success. Why?  Because most people genuinely like others, however quirky they may be, when they show and share themselves. If you give away what makes you special, you're unlikely to meet success in the journey of social media.

7. Continue on your journey, whatever the bumps, and you're likely to achieve your goals.

Beginning the journey, identifying goals, listening and speaking and sharing with others, collaborating with others, overcoming obstacles, improvising, learning, dreaming, keeping focused on your goals....You just may discover yourself achieving your goals in spite of all of the uncertainties, obstacles, fears, doubts, and improvisations along the way....

Dorothy: Weren't you frightened?

Wizard of Oz: Frightened? Child, you're talking to a man who's laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe....I was petrified.


4 Reasons For Brands to Tweet

1. Twitter is knocking out the competition.
While Twitter is still more than a bit confounding to those not tweeting, its exponential growth is knocking out the competition in the world of messaging. What was previously viewed as a fad for the techie fringe, is now the darling to daytime talk shows, sports figures, newscasters, and nearly anyone hoping to have their message heard.
More importantly, moms and dads are tweeting, teachers are tweeting, and a whole lot of other mainstream people are in the process of signing up to enter the conversation.
The question of "What are you are you having for lunch?" has been replaced by, "Where are you going for lunch?" "What specials are they offering the Twitterverse?" Ditto for computers, shoes, vacations, and much, much more.
2. Twitter creates the opportunity for brands to find and connect with new customers.
A great example of this is United Airline's (@United) current Twitter campaign offering special incentives to the first 10,000 twitterers who follow their account. @TrendTracker was one twitterer who took the bait. The result? To participate in the special offer, one had to have or open a frequent flyer account with United....And @TrendTracker did just that then. So Twitter can not only provide a forum for creating new connections to potential new customers, but it can even create the buzz to make it happen.
Want another example? Visit one of the many Dell computer Twitter accounts, such as @DellHomeOffers, to discover how they sold $1 million of additional wares thanks to their Twitter presence.
3. Twitter creates a critical listening post and damage-response base that brands ignore at their own peril.
You live and learn. Without belaboring it, one of the most glaring examples of the dangers of ignoring the Twitterverse was the failure of Domino's Pizza to quickly pick up on and respond to the buzz in the Twitterverse of a terrible brand attack by a couple despicable, now former, employees. Domino's ultimately succeeded in putting out the firestorm, but it would have had a better response if it had been listening to the social media buzz and sharing a home within the social media community. It is now doing both and doing both well. (Visit @dpzinfo)
4. Twitter is a community that shares.
Twitter is a community that shares -- just about everything and at lightening speeds. This can be good or bad: good if you're listening, have established credibility, and earned a tribe; bad if you are ignorning what is being said, have no presence and no tribe that will share your message when you need it most.
Brands that understand Twitter, get to be treated like an equal member of the community: they'll get important tips, they'll get to share their own message (yes, even when it's commercial in nature!), and they'll develop relationships that someone, somewhere will be able to quantify as an important return on the investment of listening and sharing in this incredible forum.
And if they listen and share in somewhat equal portions, there is no doubt that they will discover that their brand has gotten just a little bit better than the one they brought to the conversation....
For more thoughts on Social Media, follow @TrendTracker on Twitter.