Driving Traffic with Twitter
Reports suggest that social networking is now more popular than email. Twitter in particular grew 33% in only a month according to Compete data. Skittles increased its own traffic by 1332% in one day after a campaign that sent Skittles.com directly to a Tweet-stream (the site has since moved to different strategies of a similar nature like a Facebook page and currently a Wikipedia entry, which is in itself another interesting story).
Many brands large and small are realizing the potential that Twitter provides. "As exciting as it may be to hear about what your friends, or total strangers for that matter, ate for breakfast, some companies are realizing that a more effective use of Twitter is to mine it for clients, recruit employees and answer customer service questions," notes Kim Hart with the Washington Post.
Twitter is becoming a primary traffic source for many sites as John Battelle points out (Facebook is driving a lot of traffic as well). This will only continue to become truer as real-time search continues to grow.
"Social search has been predicted (and funded) for years," says Battelle. "It’s finally happening. The conversation is evolving, from short bursts of declared intent inside a query bar, to ongoing, ambient declaration of social actions. Both will continue, but it’s increasingly clear why Google’s obsessed with Facebook (and Facebook with Twitter). And they are not alone."
MarketingPilgrim’s Andy Beal and many others expect Twitter to eventually be acquired by Google. "Twitter is becoming an important communications channel–intrinsic to the web," says Beal. "Aside from the being able to pick up the company for a fraction of the $15 billion Google has in cash, Twitter is a key component of the search engines’ ambitious goal: to organize the world’s information." Beal finds what he perceives to be hints in the following interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
And again, there is of course that whole need for real-time search thing. But Twitter’s finally just getting its own search in the spotlight (you can search within your own friends/followers with Twellow now) . There are even featured users showcased, which may or not be an indication of the widely speculated-upon revenue model for the company (Twitter might even start serving local news too).
"When people ask me when Twitter will make money, I tell them, ‘In due time,’ says Twitter CEO Evan Williams in a quick bio-piece chronicling his professional life up to the present. "They forget that we’re only 30 employees who have just gotten started. Right now, anything we would do to make money would take our time away from acquiring more users. We have patient investors."
The average user doesn’t care about how Twitter is monetizing its business though. And the users are what drive any success that it will ever have. Users are clearly finding plenty to get out of the service. It hasn’t jumped the shark yet.
In fact, it plays so big a role on the Internet that it earned Williams a trip to the White House with a number of other tech leaders. We don’t exactly know the product of conversations that came from that, though Data.gov, another site from the Obama administration to be launched, was announced shortly after that meeting. Some wonder if the site and the meeting are related.
Regardless of how much influence Twitter is having or is not having in Washington, there is no denying that it has made a tremendous impact on the web in general and the way people and businesses communicate (it’s even inspired a similar model from social network king Facebook).
What businesses can get out of Twitter:
– Traffic. Social networks have taken over email in terms of popularity. Twitter is a very popular one, and continues to grow rapidly.
– People can "opt in" to follow your Tweets, so your messages will be well targeted. This makes it a great place to make announcements to your most loyal customers.
– Twitter can serve as a great channel for customer service if you keep up with it like these brands are.
– It lets you interact with the public while increasing brand awareness
– Twitter’s search function can help businesses better manage their online reputations in real time.
– Facebook apps can let you update Twitter/Facebook together. This means your Tweets can become your Facebook status and vice versa. Facebook is the most popular network around. Between Facebook and Twitter, you can build quite a following.
There are quite a few benefits for a company without a known revenue model and a service that many people still don’t understand the point of. As Twitter grows, that seems to be changing though.
Update: Listen to what avid Twitterer Michael Gray has to say about making Twitter work for you in this exclusive interview from PubCon:
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