The marketing industry is one which depends so greatly on having its finger on the pulse, it came as no surprise when people recognised the benefit of using Twitter as a marketing tool. If you think about it for a moment, the presence on the Internet of a site that allows you to speak to a wide range of people for free and place a link in the text has obvious and extensive marketing benefits. Not least of these is the fact that it cuts your marketing spend right back if used properly.
When it comes to marketing effectively, one of the phrases used most frequently is “we need to speak to the customer”. Although this is in many ways just a metaphor – you really need to catch the customers’ attention as broadly as possible – Twitter does allow you to speak directly to each customer if you have the time to do so. By means of @replies, you can answer a customer’s question. By using the search facility it is possible to see who is talking about the niche in which you are marketing – and whether they might be a qualified lead you can sell to.
Of course, Twitter is not a foolproof marketing tool. This is the Web 2.0 generation, and if you thought Generation X was cynical then you’re in for a surprise. People who feel they are being sold to are likely to react with resistance. Talking like a faceless marketing robot will have disastrous results, and cost you more sales than it will provide. This is why you need to be “web-savvy”.
As Twitter gains popularity, it has also driven the popularity of another recent internet phenomenon, that of the desktop “client”. Not a website, but still connected to the web, a client is a program that draws information from and distributes it to a website without the user needing to visit that site themselves. While this is not always a necessity, it does increase the convenience of the service. One particular reason for using a client is that you may be surfing another site and want to keep as few tabs open as possible – so instead of going back and forth between Twitter and another site, you can use your client to tweet and to read tweets.
Additionally, and this may not be utterly advisable if you are determined to keep your job, a client can be a way of bypassing site-blocking software which prevents you visiting Twitter in the workplace. It also allows you to use Twitter in a much smaller area of the screen, so if you don’t want people to know you are using the web or the site, you can still use Twitter by means of a client.
Another advantage of using a client is that, as the software gets better, they make the use of Twitter’s other features simpler than using the site itself. Buttons exist to re-tweet something without needing to type out the RT prefix and the user’s name, and also to shorten a URL without needing to visit a specific site. For all the features it is still useful to go to the Twitter site, but having a client downloaded does make things easier.
One thing that has emerged over the course of the last decade is a common aversion towards text speak, or a phenomenon to which people have begun to refer as “txt spk”. This is particularly prevalent among people who feel that language should be respected by those who use it and that if you are going to use a word, you should use the full word. While character limits (first identified as a barrier to clear communication with the advent of text messaging) do confer a certain urgency upon not wasting a word or a letter, it is possible to tweet or to text with clarity.
While text messaging may be driven towards “txt spk” by the fact that you pay by the message and you don’t want to waste money, you pay nothing for a tweet and you can easily continue your message in a second post. Although many people are conscious that multiple tweets in a short space of time can look like spamming, when faced with a choice between this and being viewed as a dimwit they tend to accept the spamming charge. It is not exactly a fair charge anyway, when it is simply a run-on tweet.
One outcome of the Twitter character limit has been the increase in sites providing shorter link URLs. If you have tweeted about a news story or with a link to a site, a long URL can take you over the character limit. Step forward sites such as tinyurl.com, snipurl.com and icanhaz.com, which offer an easy way around this.