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VOL. 126 | NO. 116 | Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Companies Embracing Twitter To Spread News

By Sarah Baker

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Social media experts have often described Twitter as a cocktail party – join in the many ongoing conversations as you hit up different groups in the room.

The reverse is also true. If one stands in the corner and doesn’t embrace the dialogue, no networking is accomplished, and the attendee loses relevance.

“It’s not all celebrities texting what they’re eating for lunch,” said Brian Sullivan, principal with cs2 advertising. “It’s a great tool for research, collaborating, networking, branding, promotion or just staying informed. It’s a much more versatile tool than people think.”

About 80 percent of cs2’s client base is on Twitter. It’s part of the firm’s “client resources” strategy, devoting time to monitoring content and pushing that information out to the masses on a regular basis.

And with Apple’s recent selection of Twitter as the preferred social platform for iOS 5, the once-information network truly transforms into more of a social network, allowing for additional engagement.

“Basically, you take a native picture and that little button where you hit text or email or save or whatever, it’ll also be posted to Twitter,” Sullivan said. “It eliminates the step of having to take the picture, go to your computer, upload it to your Facebook page or website.”

It’s a tool that will likely be picked up more and more by those working in photo-intensive industries, such as residential real estate agents. But it’s important to note that some companies benefit from Twitter more than others, said Amy Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies LLC.

“If a company doesn’t want to share or need to share, then it may not be the best tool for them,” Howell said. “That could include regulated businesses such as financial firms, insurance companies and banks.”

But then again, even those sectors are turning to the social phenomenon for online recognition. Just a few weeks ago, Morgan Stanley announced that over the next six months, the firm’s 17,800 brokers will start embracing Twitter and LinkedIn, marking the first time a major wealth manager is able to use social media for marketing purposes, according to Mashable Inc.

Indeed, Twitter is an effective return on investment through various avenues, Howell said. The first is monitoring, or just listening to what others are saying. Another is customer service, evidenced by accounts such as Delta Air Lines’ @DeltaAssist, Comcast Corp.’s @ComcastCares and FedEx’s @FedExCares.

Then there’s the platform’s main use, educating the public about specialty services and spreading news.

“If something runs in your paper about one of our clients, we’re going to leverage it through Twitter,” Howell said. “We’re going to tweet it and expand that footprint. It’s a multi-channel resource.”

Twitter is also an effective platform for driving contests or teasing the audience to be on the lookout for a big announcement, said Cynthia Saatkamp, principal of Hemline Creative Marketing LLC.

“People don’t realize how a business can truly seem more transparent and less guarded, more honest by tweeting,” Saatkamp said. “Twitter followers are your tribe, your confidantes and your friends. They expect, and deserve, to be treated on a one-to-one basis like a real conversation at a speed faster than email can convey.”

For those who argue that the social media site is too time-consuming, pinpoint the reason for using Twitter and define success before sending out the first tweet, said Natashia Gregoire, public relations account director for archer>malmo inc.

“If your customers are using Twitter, you need to be, too,” Gregoire said. “Saying you don’t have time to use Twitter is like saying you don’t have time to talk to your customers. You may also consider using a dashboard tool like HootSuite, which allows you to categorize tweets so that you see the ones that matter most to your business first, saving you time.”

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