Twitter: 5 Business Case Studies
I am still hearing this deep and meaningful question at dinner parties, social moments and musings.
“I don’t understand this Twitter thing, isn’t it just people telling their friends what they had for breakfast or did last night , what’s the point of that!”
In fact, for a lot of people it is exactly that…a bit like a normal cross section of your average conversation to be frank, but Twitter is a whole lot more! (2,000 plus apps and counting), if you are willing to not just skim the surface but take a deep breath, dive deep and explore the Twittersphere.
So I thought it might be productive to look at some Twitter case studies and how different types of businesses are using Twitter to increase sales, drive traffic, use as a service tool and add to their digital marketing toolbox.
When JetBlue (an airline) joined Twitter in the spring of 2007, it was one of the first major brands to do so. Today, the company has over 1.6 million followers.
Why did they want to join Twitter?
- It wanted to help customers.
“Some people were asking for help, and others were saying things that weren’t correct,” recalls JetBlue’s manager of corporate communications, Morgan Johnston. He’d been spending time on Twitter search, and he’d realized that JetBlue customers, often on the move, were Twittering about travel problems. “You can only see that a few times before you want to jump in and do something.”
They started slowly, as it gave the company time to learn what worked and what didn’t. Johnston hit on what he calls the Twitter “kernel of truth”: be receptive to what your followers want. “Ask them on Twitter” and he got answers.
Skyblue also used it for
- Customer service—much of which other people don’t see because it happens via direct messages (Twitter’s private channel).
Current Twitter Resources: Half dozen staffers who can post directly to the Twitter account, plus he he has some backup staff resources
Next challenge: To staff the account 24/7, so that travelers at any time can get a quick reply.
Takeaway: Johnston says “Qualitative rather than quantitative improvements” is what Twitter is about, not ROI.
Teusner Wine is a boutique winery in Australia’s Barossa Valley, has three employees. Dave Brookes is the sales and marketing department. A cycling fan, Brookes was watching the Tour Down Under in January 2009 when he noticed that Lance Armstrong was on Twitter. “I followed him,” says Brookes.
What was their goal for using Twitter.
- To promote their business by” building relationships with customers and potential customers.”
He created a Twitter account for Teusner, and to get rolling, he used Twitter search for wine-related terms. When he found interesting and influential people talking about the business, he followed them. Then he started conversing about wine and interacting with them. When he finds them, he sends a friendly message. “We say, “Thanks for trying the wines, we’re really glad you’ve tasted them. G’day.’ They’re really surprised, and they’re happy to hear from us.”
Brookes, who keeps the exchanges relaxed, steers away from sales. “This is about building trust as well as relationships—and that comes from not selling.”
Since he started twittering, Brookes says more people are coming to the winery for tours. The company has seen an increase in traffic to its website, along with a jump in the number of people from the US and Canada ask where they can find Teusner wines at stores and restaurants near them.
What else does he use Twitter for
- Gathering feedback
- Sharing information
In addition to lots of chatting with Teusner customers and distributors (The Jug Shop in San Francisco (@JugShop) and Stokes Fine Wines in the UK (@JustinELLiddle) are both on Twitter), Brookes posts third-party reviews of the company’s wines; if they get a really stellar one, he might repost it a couple of times over a few days. He also shares information about tastings and dinners featuring Teusner wines, and he reports on what’s happening at the winery.
Takeaway: “It’s building, we’re establishing new relationships, and people enjoy what we’re doing.”
For the 2008 presidential elections, Current knew it had to do something different. The media company, headquartered in San Francisco, would receive the same live feed of the debates as every other broadcaster. Unless Current distinguished its coverage, viewers would have no particular reason to tune in.
As they cast around for ideas, Current staffers noticed something interesting during the conventions. When the candidates gave live speeches, there were surges of commentary on Twitter. “A lot of us are Twitter users,” says Current’s vice president of strategy, Robin Sloan, “and we saw this real-time commentary track that suggested a parallel to the commentary you normally hear on the news.”
Current realized that if people were twittering about the conventions, they would definitely comment on the debates.
- Harnessing the surge of comments on Twitter and incorporating tweets into its broadcast.
How did they incorporate tweets into their broadcast?
Created an application with two levels of filtering.
- The first was a triage phase. About ten people searched Twitter for debate-related terms, and then quickly tagged any post that looked like it didn’t contain “profanity“, “hate speech” or material that would raise “copyright issues“.
- The second phase was actively curatorial. Three or four people looked at the queued messages from the first filter and then decided which of those would be shown on air.
How did they display the Tweets? Settled on the idea of having a stream of tweets roll up the screen and then dissolve about halfway up.
Throughout the election season, Current received a lot of attention—far more than it would have had it stuck to a traditional broadcast.: The company also received a lot feedback on the project. “Some people thought it was too aggressive, some thought it was just right,” says Lentz. “But everyone acknowledged that it was a great experiment and that in the world of a two-screened experience, we moved things forward.
Takeaway: By daring to be different and by experimenting, they stood out from the crowd.
The popular dessert franchise Tasti D-lite offers customers over 100 flavors of guilt-free frozen treats. Tasti has been beloved by customers in the greater New York area for over 20 years, growing to 50+ locations and continuing to open new locations while expanding its geographic reach. They weren’t sure initially how to take advantage of Twitter and use it to benefit the business. BJ Emerson is the Director of Information and Social Technologiesand and this is how he and his team applied Twitter to their business.
Initial Twitter Use: Using search to listen to what Twitter users were saying about tasti, its products, and its competitors.
He advises a three “m” approach to getting started on Twitter.
- Monitor- “Using search to listen to what Twitter users were saying about tasti, its products, and its competitors”
- Mingle- “Jump into the conversation and mingle with customers who were already talking about tasti and their New York dessert needs, using DM or @replies”.
- Measure – “Create specific codes for each coupon that are entered into the point of sale cash registers at tasti locations to enable the tracking of coupon conversions and the resulting sales”
From the numbers, BJ concluded that Twitter coupon campaigns can outperform similar targeted ads on other social network platforms or certain PPC ads if Twitter is used effectively. However, BJ sees these efforts as merely the beginning of what tasti can do on Twitter. Next stop? Experimenting with paperless mobile coupon options and Twitter accounts for individual stores.
Takeaway: If you approach Twitter like a conversation and think creatively about how you can add value to followers, then you can use it effectively”
Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade. Since launching in 2005, the Brooklyn, NY company has grown to over 65 employees. More importantly, over 250,000 sellers have opened up shop on Etsy to sell their handmade goods.
Etsy, just decided to “just have fun” and experiment with using Twitter in a broad variety of ways.
- Alert followers to particularly creative products from Etsy sellers
- Share valuable tips & tricks
- Provide information about upcoming events and promotions on the site.
- Share information from individual Etsy sellers (via “retweets”),
- Monitor and respond to Etsy-related questions and concerns that users express via Twitter
- Garner feedback and ideas instantaneously, effectively creating focus groups from the @Etsy followers.
- Discover users’ favorite Etsy items, design blogs, and projects
- Tool for impromptu surveys and feedback
In Etsy’s experience, a company that constantly seeks to build community and, “voraciously” learn from its users will find that Twitter is, “amazing in the way it harnesses the collective brains of so many people.” For example, Anda recently tapped into the community to come up with helpful tips for craft fair season.
@Etsy has also realized that great content on Twitter has the opportunity to reach new users who were previously unaware of Etsy’s website. Anda often tweets about particularly unique and creative handmade items that Etsy sellers have listed. The coolest items are subsequently “retweeted” by @Etsy followers, exposing a broader audience to the handiwork of Etsy sellers.
Advice for other companies joining Twitter?
For a site specializing in handmade goods, there is no experience more flattering than being one of the first Twitter accounts to be followed by Martha Stewart (@MarthaStewart). That’s exactly the “spine-tingling excitement” Anda and @Etsy recently enjoyed. Anda’s advice to new companies? What she recently told the legend herself about how Etsy uses Twitter.
Takeaway: @MarthaStewart “To connect, listen, interact, get feedback from our users that use Twitter too. And to have a little fun while we’re at it”. 9:52 AM May 13th from Tweetdeck
So how are you using Twitter for your business?
I would like to thank the Twitter Blog as the resource for the the above information