This article was published on April 23, 2008

How can we use Twitter for business?

How can we use Twitter for business?
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

During the “Short Attention Span Theater: The Birth of Microblogging & Micromedia” Web 2.0 Expo session, attendees were able to ask questions by sending a Twitter message to @micromedia2. As you can imagine, updates like “the man next to me smells a bit” and “Thank god Scoble isn’t in the room..” appeared on the two screens. Yet some folks of the audience managed to influence the topics Gregarious Narain (Blue Whale Labs), Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research), Stowe Boyd and Brian Solis discussed. They asked for some business insights, and they got it. So gentlemen, how CAN we use Twitter for business?

Funny Twitter messages during microblogging session at Web 2.0 ExpoBrian Solis praised Dell. The computer company follows the Twitter conversations by using Tweetscan and reacts when (potential) customers ask questions or complain about the Dell products. Forrester research does the same thing. “We listen to what people are saying and usually engage in the conversation when we notice one. Other companies like Jetblue, Marketingprofs, Zappos and Comcast do the same thing”, Owyang said. “That’s the immediate benefit”, Boyd said, “Yet the big picture here is that streaming services like Twitter are potentially very big for enterprises. People can follow projects or other companies by having things streamed to them. They don’t have to look it up anymore”.

But what if companies don’t keep an eye on Twittter, like the majority does now. What will they loose? Solis: “The conversations will take place anyway. With or without you. And hopefully, the Twitter conversations might become even more more substantial. When you ignore questions then, especially the one full of hate, you leave the answers to other people.”

Stowe Boyd pitched a pitch concept of his own: TwitPitch. The amount of emails from start-ups who wanted his attention drove Boyd mad, so he came up with a short ‘n’ sweet Twitter format. Now start-ups can pitch to Boyd with one update. That saves him time, and he actually noticed some good ones which he then retweets. “It’s very interesting, the whole pitching process is now in the open discourse. Followers are getting to see the pitches, it’s more of a performance now. We took pitching out of the smoky black room that is email”.

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