Brands Boost Sales with Twitter Campaigns

Brands are achieving tangible ROI from marketing activity on Twitter, according to speakers at a “Twitter for Brands” event hosted by New Media Age in London Friday. Representatives from Dell and Web site builder Moonfruit described measurable uplift in sales as a direct result of their marketing activity on the social network.

Kerry Bridge, part of Dell’s Digital Media Communications team, said the firm’s @dellOutlet account — which promotes offers on refurbished Dell merchandise — has driven in excess of $3 million in sales since it’s conception in 2007. “Although $3 million in sales for a brand like Dell isn’t huge, it’s still worthwhile,” she commented.

Likewise, Joe White, managing director of Moonfruit, said the controversial campaign his company ran on Twitter earlier this year was far more successful than he had imagined. “We spent around £10,000 on the prizes for the competition, and that paid for itself twice over in July alone through new subscriptions,” he said. He added that the campaign also helped raise substantial awareness of the brand in the U.S. — a market that is of great interest to the firm — and achieved a 1,500 percent month-on-month rise in U.S. visitors during July.

Moonfruit itself received criticism from some quarters regarding the nature of its competition, leading some to conclude the campaign was essentially spamming users without adding value to the Twitter community.

The company gave away one MacBook Pro a day over a 10-day period to someone who had sent a message on Twitter using the hash mark and keyword #moonfruit. The contest was so popular that Moonfruit promptly became a trending topic, although according to White, the tag was manually removed from Twitter’s trending topics by Twitter itself.

This issue of spam played a central role to the remainder of the morning’s discussions, prompted by a talk from the IAB’s head of regulatory affairs, Nick Stringer. Stringer highlighted the potential social and political benefits of social networking services such as Twitter, but warned of the need to “balance citizen empowerment with consumer detriment.”

Likewise, Robin Grant, managing director of U.K.-based social media agency We Are Social, warned of the potential pitfalls for brands on Twitter, and emphasized the importance of understanding and promoting the way the community self-regulates. Grant highlighted both the Moonfruit example and a recent instance of hashtag “hijacking” by U.K. retailer Habitat, in which the company used trending topics such as the Iranian elections to promote itself — a potentially brand-damaging practice that was heavily criticized amongst the Twitter community.

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