The Twuth About Twitter: Its Impact on Businesses and Communications

Twitter may well be struggling in its search for a profitable business model, but the company has made an impact on multiple levels of the marketing chain.

As the real-time web service gains steam, more entities – from big-time corporations to grassroots-level nonprofits – are starting to benefit from its enormous reach.

Most people are not particularly interested in reading what others had for breakfast – the stereotypical tweet – but Twitter’s reputation as yet another social media site with real-time news is gradually evolving toward one as a valuable source of information across the media horizon. Some examples:

  • The news of the Mumbai terrorist attacks was first spread via Twitter, as was the landing of the UA plane on the Hudson River.
  • Twitter delayed its planned maintenance this week week in support of heavy coverage of the Iranian elections by Iranians themselves.
  • Governments have used it to promote both transparency and direct communication with their constituencies.
  • Academics have used it as an online tool to follow up on research and expert opinions.
  • Doctors used it as a didactical device detailing every step of a brain tumor operation for students to follow.
  • Corporations use Twitter for sales pitches.
  • Small businesses find Twitter useful to keep customers updated.

So far, Twitter’s most productive use has been for businesses that want customers’ immediate reactions to a product:

  • Amazon quickly responded to a tweeted outcry about their censoring of so-called adult books.
  • Starbucks did some reputation damage management after it was rumored that the company would stop serving the troops in Iran as a protest against the war.
  • Dell noticed customers complaining on Twitter that the apostrophe and return keys were too close together on the Dell Mini 9 laptop – they fixed the problem on the Dell Mini 10.

Recently, Dell claimed Twitter helped make it some millions of dollars in sales. With 600,000 followers, it is one of the Top 100 most-followed accounts on Twitter.

Dell posted 6 to 10 times a week to its Twitter-based DellOutlet account for the last two years, and tracked the sales with proprietary software. Every post includes a coupon or a link to a sale and half of the posts are Twitter-exclusive deals.

It reportedly chalked up more than $1 million in sales over the past 6 months. And on Thursday, Dell said it made over $3 million in total from Twitter followers that clicked through its posts to its websites to make purchases.

Three million in sales over two years may not be impressive for the world’s second-largest PC maker in the first quarter of 2009 (Dell posted $12.3 billion of revenue in the first quarter of this year, alone), but the PC maker has become one of the first public examples of how companies might profit from Twitter.

Twitter does not charge companies for such benefits, but does not rule out doing so in the future.

Twitter had approximately 17 million unique U.S.-based visitors in April, and about 24 million worldwide, according to Nielsen. Its number of users has grown by more than a thousand percent over the last year.

A recent study indicates that more than eight in 10 Twitter users, most of which represent small businesses, expect their company’s use of the popular microblogging tool to increase in the next six months.

Food mogul Nestle recently turned to Twitter for an ad campaign to promote JuicyJuice by creating an ad that features real-time tweets within its borders.

Source: MarketingVox

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