Twitter provides businesses with direct access to both current and potential customers, allowing them to give information about their products and services and get feedback from the people who use them. The Twitter Web site advises businesses to "treat Twitter as an open, continuing conversation with your customers rather than just a broadcast medium."
The range of companies currently using Twitter for business purposes is as varied as the people they're courting. Luxor, a pyramid-shaped, Egyptian-themed hotel and casino in Las Vegas uses Twitter to provide recommendations for guests and visitors, promote upcoming events and host promotions like ticket giveaways. The NBA's Portland Trailblazers, on the other hand, tweets breaking news, team and player information and behind-the-scenes photos in an effort to engage fans. In cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles and Seattle, mobile food trucks use the social media tool to announce their menus, schedules and ever-changing locations.
Drawing on the experience of these and other business users, the Twitter Web site lists a number of best practices for building an online following, including:
- Sharing photos and other interest-generating information such as glimpses at new and developing projects.
- Monitoring comments about the company, its brand and products.
- Asking questions and responding to feedback in real time.
- Using tweets to announce special offers and discounts.
- Referencing articles and links about the company and its industry.
Twitter also uses its own technology to both promote its brand and help other businesses use the format to do so. Via @TwitterBusiness, the company tweets about Twitter news, the ways in which businesses are using Twitter and success stories, among other topics.
For more information on Twitter and other social networking tools, visit the links on the next page.