Business Up Front, Party in the Back: The Two Sides of Twitter
January 9, 2011 1 Comment
Twit·ter [Twit-er] (v.)- “a short burst of inconsequential information or chirps from birds”
That is the definition that inspired Jack Dorsey and several others to create a 140-character messaging service that eventually became popular social media website we know today as Twitter. Since it’s launch on July 15, 2006, Twitter has grown to over 180 million users who create over 65 million tweets a day! (Thank you Wikipedia) As a marketing student and social media enthusiast, I have enjoyed using Twitter for the past year and a half or so to find and share information about the things that I am passionate about (like #marketing, #socialmedia, #theology, #business) as well as be entertained by tweets from @ochocinco and several others. Aside from my personal profile (@LawsonHembree), I have also managed the Twitter account for the Arkansas World Trade Center (@ARWTC).
From my experience with these two accounts, I’ve always gotten to see more of the “business side” of Twitter. However, like a mullet haircut, while Twitter is all “business up front,” there is also a “party in the back.” This post will take a brief look at both sides.
Business Up Front:
Most of us have seen an advertisement or website for a business that says, “Follow us on Twitter.” This is the business side of Twitter where companies and individuals come together to create a discussion. Businesses often share content that is related to their industry or their products and services in order to better inform consumers, to build the legitimacy of their brand, and/or to respond to consumer tweets about them.
One company that I think does an exceptional job on Twitter is Taco Bell (@TacoBell). As I’m writing this post, they have 34,082 followers. What does Taco Bell do that I think is exceptional (besides their great food!) and embodies the business side of Twitter? Not only does Taco Bell tweet about their products, but they also engage consumers by retweeting them and commenting on what they are saying about Taco Bell. Not only do they do this though, what I think really stands out about Taco Bell’s Twitter strategy is when they tweet: around lunch time and late at night. Most of the tweets at this time are retweets of people who are actually at Taco Bell eating. This strategy does two things: 1) keeps Taco Bell at “top of mind” for consumers who follow them on Twitter 2) encourages people to go to Taco Bell and tweet about it in order to have a chance to be retweeted by them (which often leads to an increase in followers for that person).
When I tweet for the Arkansas World Trade Center, I try to take a similar approach (though a fast food restaurant and a nonprofit international trade development organization are quite different, especially in their target audience). Each morning during the work week, I spend about 30 minutes searching for articles about Arkansas, business, and international trade and schedule them to be posted throughout the day using the Twitter client CoTweet. I put the articles that I think are more important and relevant around the times when businesspeople might be taking their lunch break or right after they get off work since they are likely to login to their Twitter account at that time. Whenever someone mentions or retweets the ARWTC, I make sure to thank them for their engagement.
So as you can see, the business side of Twitter is focused on building a brand images and sharing information with consumers. This is the side of Twitter that usually gets the most attention in news media and from marketing/social media websites. However, there is another side to Twitter that is a little crazier…
Party in the Back:
Just like any good, authentic mullet: where there is business up front, there must be a party in the back. Well, the same seems to be true of Twitter. If you ever take a peek at the trending topics in your Twitter sidebar, you may see hashtags such as #geekpickuplines, #thatawkwardmomentwhen, and my least favorite #justinbieber. Where do these trending topics originate among all the business and news tweets on Twitter? They come from the users who are on Twitter for fun. Many of them don’t care about following companies, but their friends and other like-minded tweeters. These users generate a huge volume of tweets and most have more followers than your average business or “mainline” tweeter (many of these “fun” users are on #TeamFollowBack meaning that if you follow them, they will follow you back). I find it entertaining to search through some of the tweets from the “fun” users to see what they are saying. If a brand can tap into these users and get them excited, the possibilities are endless.
As you can see, Twitter is a very interesting social media platform that will continue to evolve as more users jump on board. Will the “two sides of Twitter” continue to peacefully coexist or will one become more prominent? Only time will tell. In the mean time, follow me on Twitter and keep reading my blog.
Learn It. Love It. Live It.
[image credit: mkhmarketing on Flickr]