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”.
The Internet may seem to be a behemoth of unconnected sites united simply by the fact that they are all online and accessible by anyone with the correct equipment. But if you look closer it is easy to see that there is a lot of connectivity between certain sites, not least in the use of hyperlinks which allow you to navigate between sites which have a common interest. But where this becomes fascinating is with the rise of the super website, the one which is by far and away the leader in its field. Prime examples of this in recent times are not hard to identify.
We have Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia which is seen as an immediate resource for collated information. Then there is YouTube, a video hosting site which allows one to view footage collected from numerous different places. How hard it would be to find the sites you need if it were not for the ultimate search engine, Google. And recently, Twitter has become a site which everyone knows about, even if they only know that everyone else is talking about it.
One of the things that makes Twitter so popular is that it is an excellent way to spread links. This allows it an instant affinity with other sites. If you find a video on YouTube which you believe that everyone should see, you post a link to it on your Twitter account, and people can view it and then pass on the link. This connectivity is also very useful for bloggers who can install a “widget” on their blog which automatically posts a link on their Twitter feed whenever they put up a new blog post.
One of the things that makes Twitter so vibrant is that it is a very quick and very sure way of spreading information, and if you find a link on the Internet that you want to bring to people’s attention, it is necessary only to tweet that link and sit back as people open and read it, and forward it to others who would be interested. The history of the viral link, although chronologically short, has already got a lot of stories to it, and many of these have been provided by Twitter.
One of the most frequent uses for linking on Twitter is when someone says or does something so incredibly idiotic that it sends the average reader into either a furious rage or gales of laughter. By the medium of Twitter it is possible to pass on a link to this story and share in the derision. It is also possible to bring serious lapses of political, journalistic or moral standards to wider attention.
One of the results of this practice is that the targets of such treatment often respond to the large-scale anger directed at them by insisting that they are the victims of an “orchestrated internet hate campaign”. This misses the point, and is untrue. People pass on the story because they find it distasteful or ridiculous, and it is this that drives the story on, rather than a specific hatred for the person in question. In this cynical world it is not that easy to fabricate outrage, but genuine outrage has a momentum all of its own.