Make Twitter work for your business: expert

Companies need to join Twitter as a way to get more publicity and a bigger audience, according to Mark Evans, director of communications at Sysomos Inc.

Sysomos is a social media analytics company, teaching other businesses how to use social networks. The Toronto-based company compiles data from wikis, blogs, message boards and social networks. Aside from research, it also monitors and analyzes social media conversations.
“If there are companies out there that think that Twitter is a fad, it’s mainstream and increasingly popular,” Evans said. “If you are a company that wants to monitor social media and have a presence, you get on Twitter.”

Twitter is one of the most well-known social media platforms that can also be used as a marketing tool. Instant Twitter updates lets people become aware of what’s going on with a particular company such as the release of new products. Some examples are Elle Magazine tweeting links to its articles and Etsy Inc. posting links to new products. Dell Inc. made $6.5 million in sales using Twitter, according to Krista Napier, analyst at Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd.
Twitter can help an enterprise attract new employees. Napier said that by being on Twitter, a company appeals to younger people because it demonstrates it is up to date with online tools.  It also allows a company to interact with customers as did Starbucks Corp. when it advertised special offers through Twitter updates. A company can also use Twitter to track its reputation and get feedback from customers. Gap Inc. did this when they placed a new logo on their site and monitored negative feedback on Twitter from customers, according to Napier.
Increasingly, people and companies are joining Twitter. Forty-four per cent of Twitter users joined from January to mid-August in 2010, according to a report by Sysomos.
However, many companies are still not using tools to help track social networking analytics on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and what these social networks mean to businesses, according to Napier.
“It’s great to use a tool like Twitter to improve communication, but companies need to measure this activity to understand what it means, the ROI, the impact on the rest of the company, and what is working and what needs to be changed in their approach to ensure that using a tool like Twitter continues to be effective. Otherwise they are blind to what is really going on” she said.
The use of Twitter is rapidly expanding and a growing number of people are putting their personal information on their Twitter accounts, according to Sysomos.
With more company information available on accounts, there are safety concerns, according to Napier. “It’s just as dangerous as e-mail. At the end of the day, you’re giving employees a tool; if private information goes public it’s hard to take back,” she said.
To fight security problems, companies should develop social media policies, according to Napier.
“The bottom line is the growth of Twitter continues to see traction throughout the world especially in places like Egypt and Indonesia,” Evans said. “Twitter has become a global communications system for business or personal use.”

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