It’s a rule of thumb that most people will accept advice about a purchase from people they know and sometimes from people they don’t know. People seem to trust word of mouth advertising because they feel the person giving the advice has no ulterior motives. There’s a trust factor. For some, Twitter has become the new word of mouth.
I recently read an article in the New York Times about a man named Curtis who has a crème brûlée cart in San Francisco. He noticed that he was getting more new customers and found that his satisfied customers had been tweeting about him on Twitter. Seeing that Twitter was a business benefit, Curtis signed up for a Twitter account and now tweets to his followers about his cart location and the crème brûlée flavors of the day. For Curtis, Twitter spread the word about the crème brûlée quicker than he ever could have. More importantly, he had happy tweeters who were singing his praises.
Twitter can be a great business tool for small businesses who want to get their name out without spending a lot on advertising. Businesses can communicate their thoughts and ideas with consumers. Similarly, consumers can ask questions and share their feelings on your product or service. The real money maker comes into play, when your satisfied customers share their experience with others. Anyone can blow their own horn; it’s another thing when others speak highly of your business or service.
Twitter, is a great way to efficiently advertise your business without using traditional advertising methods. If you haven’t tried Twitter, go ahead. Just make sure your business is selling a quality product or service. Your business may find that just like Curtis, new customers are standing in your line.
Twitter is without a doubt one of the fastest growing social networking channels on the Internet today. Nielsen reported that Twitter had a massive 1,382 percent growth rate from February 2008 to February 2009.
As people are jumping on Twitter to join the conversations, many are not only faced with the challenge of answering the question, “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less, but they are often overwhelmed by the terminology that is unique to Twitter. To help ease some confusion, here’s a list of some of the most commonly used terms and communication shortcuts on Twitter:
Starting with the basics, a tweet is a 140-character message or update sent via Twitter. Tweets can be sent by various means including your mobile phone, the Internet, or third party applications. Tweets are public and can be viewed by any Twitter user, with the exception of Direct Messages and Protected Tweets, both of which are mentioned below.
Also known as “retweets”, RT @username is a way to re-send a tweet. Through retweets, you are able to send someone else’s message to other Twitterers who are following you. Retweets are very similar to forwarding emails and out of courtesy, it’s best to credit the original creator with the @username.
These can be used to reply to a tweet, mention another user, or direct a tweet to someone. When replying to a tweet, the @username typically appears at the beginning of the tweet and when using the @username in the middle or near the end of the tweet, it’s often used to mention or direct the tweet to another user. It’s important to note that these replies can be viewed by anyone on Twitter and the @username is a way for others to know who you are “talking” to.
Direct Messages are tweets that are sent to a specific user and are not viewable on the public timeline. They are similar to Messages on Facebook, for those who are more familiar with that social networking channel.
Favorites are essentially bookmarked tweets. They are a way for you to share your favorite tweets with Twitterers. In addition to the short bio that you can provide about yourself, favorites enable you to showcase the type of information that is most interesting to you.
#hashtags (where the topic or keyword is used in place of the word “hashtag”) are used to group tweets by topic or keyword. To have your tweets grouped with others about the same topic, include the #hashtag in your tweets. For a look at the most popular hastags, visit http://hashtags.org/.
Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to jump in and start tweeting!
Tweeting across language borders can be challenging, but if you are marketing internationally, Twitter can be a great way to reach across cultural boundaries and engage a whole new audience. For example, did you know that the most widely spoken language in the world is Chinese? In order to use Twitter internationally, consider employing a Twitter Translator. One new promising tool comes from Mloovi.com. It takes your tweet and translates it using Google’s Translation tool:
Not only that but any tweets coming in from another language can be translated into English (or whatever language you prefer – they cover 42 languages including Chinese, Greek and Arabic). If you want to try it now, go to: http://mloovitweet.com/.
If you have some knowledge of the other language and want to review your tweets before you send them, you can also use Google’s translator tool directly: http://translate.google.com.
This takes a little longer, but lets me preview my tweet before I send it out to the world.
Even considering the potential for misunderstanding, using translation software can help you get a better understanding of international friends and potential new customers. If you have a good relationship with your followers and explain that you are using translation software, they’ll likely understand any small language mishaps.
The tool is in development now and as with any automatic translator, it won’t be perfect, so you’ll want to be careful not to challenge it with slang English terms – keep the language straightforward and simple to avoid misunderstandings. If you are unsure of this and prefer to stick to English, go ahead and tweet internationally in English as English is a popular second language and your followers will likely understand your English tweets as well. In that case, you might just want to use the tool to understand when your international correspondents tweet in their native language.
In any case, don’t be afraid to expand your world and use Twitter internationally to find new customers across cultural and international borders.