Social Media Gurus Answer Top Twitter Questions

Article date: Fri, 25 Feb 2011 12:41 GMT

UKFast Round Table Twitter

Is it wise for businesses to publicise their client base on Twitter? Can they measure the impact of social media as part of a marketing campaign? And is there any place for the hard sell amongst a firm's tweets?

A panel of social media experts answered these questions and others at a recent round table in Manchester, held during Social Media Week 2011 and organised by hosting firm UKFast.

Jonathan Bowers, communications director at UKFast, asked the panellists if businesses should publicise their client base on the social media platform by adding them as followers.

"For most businesses, their client base is their bread and butter. By putting that client base on Twitter, are you inviting your competitors to poach them?" Bowers asked.

Coral Grainger, founder of Manchester-based Capital Relations, said: "If you are doing a good job, the good will out. People will talk about it and they will be loyal and you will retain that list because you're providing a good product or service."

Chi-chi Ekweozor, director of social media training and implementation consultancy, said: "A business can build its Twitter base by following its competitors' clients and engaging with them on matters of mutual interest. It happens all the time and it can be a strategy that works very effectively to grow your following.

"However, if you hide your customer base and you're not in touch with your clients on Twitter, you're not giving your clients the opportunity to advocate you on that platform. Meanwhile your competitor will probably still follow them and try to build a relationship with them and there's a chance your clients will form a relationship with your competitor instead of developing the one they already have with you."

Asked to what extent businesses could assess the impact of Twitter as one element of a marketing strategy, Paul Sutton, head of digital communications at Oxford-based Bottle PR said: "That's the question everyone asks about Twitter, how you measure its impact. I'm coming to the conclusion that you can't measure it effectively yet. We still don't have the clear link to show that it's impacting the bottom line. But many of its users are keen to establish that link between Twitter and business so hopefully it's not too far away."

Ekweozor disagreed, arguing that while Twitter lags behind Facebook in terms of how easily its impact can be measured, there are some key indicators that businesses can use to decide how useful their Twitter strategy is.

She said: "You can measure it to a degree. You can get some stats. You can see how many people retweet what you say and how that affects your followers. It is slowly becoming a science but at the moment we are still a bit obsessed with the celebrity side of things on Twitter."

Panellists agreed that tweets that refer to special offers and point-of-sale redeemable vouchers were effective for a select few - those that users follow for the sole reason of securing discounts. For the majority of tweeters, however, they feel the hard sell is ineffective.

Sutton said: "Twitter is about observing what people say on a casual basis. It's about profile building, not selling. Discounts are a separate thing - people have chosen to be targeted with discount codes. Generally though, people aren't receptive to the hard sell on Twitter."

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