Tweet to sell? Good luck with that

17 Aug

Twitter wasn’t designed for marketing. Naturally I was confused when this blog entry proclaimed Twitter dead as a marketing tool when I was never aware that it was alive and kicking as one in the first place. Marketing, by definition, is the process of converting the public into consumers. The focus is on getting people to spend money on your product or service. Of course there are clever marketing strategies disguised as public relations (The Old Spice Guy’s personal video replies are a prime example, although reports of sales growth are wishy-washy depending on what source you use), but Twitter should mostly be used as a PR tool to interact with the public and build relationships. This shouldn’t be its secondary function, nor should it be surprising. What’s surprising is that a company expects to hit a sales gold mine off of a platform that requires no financial investment whatsoever. You get back what you put in, and the currency of these networks is social capital.

Twitter allows people to publish 140-character thought-blitzes; short-but-sweet tweets to anyone who will listen (er-read). People on Twitter don’t want to be spammed or sold things. They want someone to appreciate and relate to the mundane intricacies of their life. They look forward to that fleeting moment of excitement after a relevant figure has @replied to them. This is what many organizations fail to grasp. Tweeples don’t want to be part of your target demographic. They want to be your friend (per say), to follow and be followed in return. If you value your potential and current customer-base, you are more likely to encourage lifelong fans.

What’s funny is that in this age of digital revolution we’ve come full circle. The very thing that Twitter promotes is what humans have always craved: social interaction. New digital tools won’t push people away if you know how to use them well. They can actually strengthen real-world relationships with fans, friends, and even strangers. So complement their choice in fashion, share exasperated sighs on Monday mornings, and rejoice together when your team scores the buzzer-beating shot for the win–all over tweets. At worst your followers will see your efforts as transparently one-sided, but at best they will believe you actually care.


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