Last night a few of us here at Webcredible headed over to Soho for an evening of lively debate, organised by Netimperative, on whether Twitter is a good or bad thing for marketers and brands – Twitter or bitter?
The panel included representatives from Tangent One, Guava, TMG and 140Characters.co.uk, and there were many advantages and issues with Twitter discussed including one or two mentions of Habitat’s hastagging faux pas. Key benefits of Twitter identified included allowing brands to have a direct conversation with their customers, its usefulness for networking and live search, and its potential for PR and as part of an integrated digital campaign.
Disadvantages discussed included that there is a lot of noise for consumers to get through on the platform, it requires time to get into and most importantly to get right, and that people are struggling to see the ROI for brands.
I raised the question of reputation management last night and thought I’d share my thoughts on this issue and some of the others discussed at the event. Reputation management is an important part of social media marketing, especially Twitter, and we’ve heard plenty of stories about how brands have made mistakes and damaged their reputation online. But what about the flipside – Twitter squatting? Twitter has grown to a point where, like domain names, it’s worth registering your name even if you’re not going to use it to protect from third parties taking your Twitter identity and using it in detriment to your brand.
In reference to the stories of brands spectacularly failing to ‘get’ Twitter and causing damage to their reputation as a result. I would argue that even though it is a lot easier than other channels to get wrong, as long as you follow some very basic principles that are true of most digital marketing disciplines, you can test the water and begin to engage without falling into this trap. I mean, you wouldn’t send out a marketing email to someone who hadn’t opted-in with ‘Iran elections’ in the subject line to get their attention would you?
As for measurement and ROI? Well there are many offline channels that are a lot more difficult to measure and analytics is a pretty good gauge of how successful your use of Twitter is, by the traffic being referred to your site from Twitter.
In terms of how to use it, well we use it as a channel for sharing all our content, we allow people to find us and when they connect with us we respond to them. So far, that has proved a pretty successful approach.
Anyway, back to the event – I think the pro-Twitter crowd edged the debate and let’s face it that’s the camp we’re in. But, given that this blog is also an interactive medium I’m keen to hear your thoughts on how brands (including Webcredible) should use Twitter.