Microblogging has arrived. There are now millions of people using Twitter as well as its competitors Pownce and Jaiku. My learnings from the world of marketing points to one obvious conclusion. Where the people go, the corporations are sure to follow.
Similar to earlier forms of online engagement(message boards, blogs and communities), companies must understand that the world of microblogging is about conversations. In the offline world, nobody likes the guy who walks into a room with a bull horn. People generally ignore the interruption or verbally attack it until it goes away. The same premise applies online and as such, companies/marketers need to listen first. Just like any conversation, once you get a feel for what topics are already being discussed, then companies can join in and build on the topic with relevant, useful points. This is online marketing 101, but it still amazes me how often companies ignore these rules.
Chris Brogan wrote an excellent post a couple months back titled 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business. It looks at how you can get started, what topics are appropriate to tweet about, how to authentically build community and the negatives and positives you can expect to encounter through efforts in the realm. I have yet to find a more succinct, yet all encompassing post on how companies can go about microblogging correctly. Some strong examples of companies on Twitter that have joined the conversation and established a following that positively impacts their brand include: Starbucks, Dell, Jason’s Deli, Jet Blue, Kodak, Whole Foods and Southwest Airlines.
There are two sides to the corporate microblogging coin though. The first and possible most important, is how you are engaging with your customers. The other side is how corporations can provide their employees new tools that allow for greater communication and productivity. Enter the internal corporate microblogging tools from Yammer, Present.ly and QikCom. Skeptical? Even Forrester Research begrudgingly states that microblogging has a place in the enterprise 2.0 market that is expected to reach $4.6 billion by 2013. ReadWriteWeb provides more background with a good overview and links to a report by Pitsachio Consulting on enterprise microsharing tools.
Lastly, I recently came across direct proof that companies are listening to the microblogging noise. A family member of mine wondered aloud on Twitter whether it was time for his company to bring Yammer into the fold. I suggested he also take a look at Present.ly and QikCom. In under 24 hours I noticed both Yammer and QikCom were following me on Twitter. Clearly they are listening, I am now wondering when they will have something meaningful to add to the conversation…