How to be a Twitter all-star

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With all the attention Twitter is receiving, many brands are beginning to recognize, or at least wonder, how Twitter can impact their business. Is it a viable way to reach and engage their audience? How? Can a company be effective while interacting on such a personal level? And who cares what I am doing right now?

If you ever thought Twitter was silly, and maybe you still do, you are not alone. But maybe you stopped snickering after Twittering moms brought down the Motrin campaign. If you missed that, Google "Motrin Twitter," or read about it here (registration required).

Some of today's most prolific Twitter all-stars initially felt the same way. And let's face it; the business applications are not readily clear. But there are brands that have been able to successfully adapt to the changing consumer and business landscape, and they have found success in new and meaningful ways.

To provide you with some practical insight, answers and perhaps a dose of inspiration to help you on your way to Twitter success, we spoke to a few Twitter all-stars.  Here are their stories.

Meet Neal Stewart, prime minister of marketing for Flying Dog Brewery. "When I first heard of Twitter, I thought it was for 11-year-old girls. I was skeptical, so I had to get more into it," he said.

Stewart is friendly and personable, but then again, it’s hard not to like talking about beer! He clearly loves what he is doing and has a palatable passion for his brand. With about 10 years of marketing and brand experience, Stewart confesses that Twitter started as a hobby.

But, after actively tweeting for sometime now, Stewart has found that the time he invested on Twitter has built a strong sense of loyalty among Flying Dog's customers.

"It's making people realize that there is an actual person talking to them, not an animated response or some pre-planned ad slogan," Stewart said. And that loyalty comes back to the brand. "After a while, as a Twitterer, you start to feel like you are friends with the people you follow and those who follow you." 

And if this all sounds like fun and games, think again. Using Twitter has been extremely beneficial in starting buzz around new Flying Dog products and getting immediate response to new initiatives. And, much to Flying Dog's surprise, promotional activities have elicited the best response. Tweets like trivia questions and giveaways get great responses, especially impressive when that approach is more often than not frowned upon in the Twittersphere.
For example, on Election Day, Flying Dog Brewery tweeted that if you buy something from the store and enter promo code "I Voted" you get 20 percent off. In exchange, Flying Dog saw a spike in store sales and directly traced those sales through the promo code. That success can be credited to a loyal and enthusiastic consumer base and promotions that reflect the spirit of the brand and trusted relationships.

A top tip from Stewart: "When building a base of followers, don't go out and spam huge groups of people and hope they follow you. That's a pretty unauthentic way to dialogue with consumers. On the other hand, we monitor for conversations about us and then follow those people and hope they follow us because we know they are interested. We have found they are usually glad to have us reach out to them."

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Mark Silva
Mark Silva December 12, 2008 at 8:02 PM

Nice work, Denise. I want to point you and the readers to a blog post by Tara "Missrouge" Hunt about UPS, Tony from @Zappos and the power of the Twitter connection to address problems and turn-around brand FAIL. Check it out: