"Entrepreneurs are finding the fast-rising microblogging site to be a useful tool for reaching out to customers" ~ Business Week Small Biz Tech
As a marketing strategist and personal branding director for both small businesses and speakers/authors, I've found Twitter to be invaluable to my clients. Not by itself, but in conjunction with other social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, along with fresh content on their site and especially their blog(s).
If used correctly as part of a business owner's overall marketing strategy, Twitter can quickly and easily create awareness and consideration from those both outside and inside their target market with no media cost. There is still a cost, of course, in either time or paying someone like me to manage their social networks but it would be similar to paying for an ad to be created without paying for the media cost to run the ad on TV, radio or in print.
Twitter can be used (carefully) to drive qualified traffic to websites and blogs - and even make the phone ring. I've heard some pretty cool first-day stories. And it can support current online marketing efforts such as SEO, Google Adwords or banner ads in significant ways. If you're already committing marketing funds to those efforts as well as writing blog content, then Twitter with the social networks can put those efforts on steriods. You know, make the flywheel turn faster. Or get to the tipping point quicker.
Best of all, it helps businesses build relationships with current and prospective customers, as long as the business adds value along the way. The more value the company brings to the game, the higher the reward.The businesses I work with who are using these tools effectively are quickly setting themselves apart from the competition and creating both their current and future success through relationships and referrals. Twitter is the new CRM tool and more. Business owners are getting attention and receiving opportunities they didn’t get before, because they are finding a way to let people know they are the go-to expert in their particular field by helping others in a very present, moment-to-moment world.
There are plenty of people who are getting on the social networking or twittering opportunity, making money from how-to seminars and getting everyone all hyped up, but very few who understand it from a branding and direct response perspective. Few who understand that the social network platforms (and there are many too numerous to mention) are simply new and inexpensive tools for customer acquisition, retention, lead generation, cross-sell, CRM and viral/WOM marketing.
If your "teacher" doesn't fully understand or can't speak deeply about those business and marketing strategies that have always been a staple to a company's success, then they're not the person who will help you build your brand and your business over multiple touch-points for the long-haul. Anyone can write a tweet but few who know how to write tweets and content that will pull customers in through the purchase sequence and keep them engaged for the long haul.
If you have any questions about Twitter or how to develop an effective social network strategy, call or email Sally Witzky, or find me twittering at http://twitter.com/sallywitzky. In the meantime, the Business Week article provided some interesting perspective on Twitter itself as a social networking/micro-blogging medium and the effect it has had for business.