Earlier this year, Google CEO Eric Schmidt referred to Twitter as the "poor man's e-mail system." So, what does Twitter have in common with e-mail, and how can e-mail marketers use it?
Like e-mail, Twitter is a messaging system that allows you to reach customers directly and gives them the ability to reply or forward (retweet) your message to others. Twitter is permission based. People follow, unfollow, or block you (similar to subscribing for e-mail).
What's different: Twitter messages are (mostly) in public view, not personalized and limited to 140 characters. It's also fleeting. I haven't seen studies, but my attention span is much shorter with Twitter than e-mail. I think time will show that Twitter can have great reach (especially retweets to reach prospects), but not have the same relationship building depth as e-mail.
Use Twitter for Community, Brand, and Business
Two clients that provide good examples of business tweeting are Whole Foods Market and Southwest Airlines.
Whole Foods uses social media to make its brand feel more local. In addition to its corporate Twitter account with nearly 1.5 million followers, it also has a slew of local Twitter pages. The company also indexes these local pages on its Web site. These create a much more personalized experience, as these tweets from my local store show:
Fall is here! And our Fuji Apples are on sale for $1.99/lb! Try this amazing recipe for Pumpkin Apple Pie! http://tinyurl.com/pumpapple
Looking for a new friend? Friends of the Oakland Animal Shelter has some cute & furry pals lookin' for a home at our store today! 11-2pm!
We're running out of our Millenium Kombucha! Today it's buy 1, get 1 FREE! Same goes for full cases! Hurry on down!
Local tweet topics include store events, fresh produce that is seasonal by region, limited inventory items, and local charities. Being local is about product and community.
Southwest stays true to its brand with the various Southwest associates who post on behalf of the company on Twitter. The land of the free drink ticket keeps it fun with contests like these tweets:
To celebrate our new in-flight wine selection, tell us why "You'd Rather Be Drinking Wine than Working" #wineswa http://bit.ly/4sGoz0 8:12 AM from CoTweet
Let's start Monday off right! Who's ready to win a trip to Napa, courtesy of Southwest and @napamarriott? http://bit.ly/4sGoz0 #wineswa 8:09 AM from CoTweet
Twitter Versus Facebook
In the ClickZ column "Twitter Surpasses Facebook as Top Link in E-mail", Bill McCloskey cited a Wet Paint study showing that companies with the highest social media activity increased revenue by 18 percent in the last 12 months, while least-active companies saw a 6 percent drop in sales.
I found this correlation between company growth and adoption of social media when comparing airlines' social media activities. The fastest-growing airlines (Southwest and JetBlue) are the ones with strong social presence on Facebook and Twitter.
|Airline||Revenue 2008 ($B)||Annual Revenue Growth||Facebook Fans (000)||Twitter Followers (000)||Tweets|
Bill also found that the integration of e-mail with Twitter and Facebook is growing. (Based on counts of links to Twitter and Facebook in marketing e-mails.)
|Twitter Links in E-mail||Facebook Links in E-mail|
In the column, "To-Do List for Facebook and E-mail Integration," I explained how to integrate Facebook with e-mail. Twitter is a different animal to integrate. Its 140-character limit and low-barrier application make it a more mobile phenomenon. Eighty percent of Twitter usage occurs on mobile devices.
Twitter for Business: Your Quick-Start Guide
Twitter Can Humanize Your Brand
When Twitter co-founder Biz Stone was asked about Eric Schmidt's comments, he replied that Twitter has some similarities to e-mail products but is really for discovering and sharing what is happening right now.
"We think it's important to introduce the power of a real-time network to even the weakest of signals around the world - as Twitter grows, we realize it's not about the triumph of technology, it's about the triumph of humanity," he said.
Use that insight in your Twitter program, your e-mail program and every other cross-channel program you have. Time to humanize your brand!
Ed Henrich is vice president of professional services for Responsys, leading the company's creative, campaign development, strategy, and analytics teams to produce award-winning and profitable client e-mail marketing programs. Ed is a pioneer in the e-mail marketing industry, having joined Post Communications (now Yesmail) in 1997 when it was a five-person startup. For eight years, he was the company's vice president of client services, then president. Before that, Ed was a venture capitalist at Internet Capital Group and a senior consultant with McKinsey & Company. A former Fulbright Scholar to Australia in Control Systems Engineering, Ed holds a PhD and an MS from UCLA and a BS from Drexel University. Follow him at his blog, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
June 20, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT