Business uses for Twitter

I have been using twitter for maybe the last 3 months now. When I saw it for the first time in 2007, my reaction was right! who has the time for this? Then I reluctantly signed up 3 months back and now I am hooked. Many of the folks I follow the say the same thing. If you are on twitter, you can follow me.

The reason I use twitter most of the time is to get information for myself. I follow some of the very well known social media folks and based on the links that they post I have discovered new content and in the process learned a lot of new things. Not convinced that twitter is useful for personal use? Watch this great video.

OK, so from a personal point of view that is great but does it have any use for businesses? I have found good use for businesses as well. Businesses can create a twitter account, do a search for twitter users who fit the profile of the businesses customer/prospect profile and follow them. Some of them will end up following you. Then use twitter as another vehicle to establish thought leadership in your market and also to create awareness of what you do. This can be done by posting twitter links to

  1. Articles about your company in the media
  2. New content articles on how to best solve problems your customers have
  3. Best practice articles (does not have to be written by you, provide links to other’s content, what is more important is to make your prospects/customers/followers get better at what they do)
  4. Your press releases
  5. Webcasts conducted by your company
  6. Product promotions
  7. Conferences or tradeshows your company may be attending
  8. Awards received by your company
    and this list can go on and on.
  9. (I am always looking for new uses for twitter, so if you have other great uses, please drop me a comment)

You get the idea. In the meantime, make sure that you are also searching twitter to see if anything is being mentioned about your company. This is extremely important.

Let me give you an example – recently one of my twitter friends Max (fictitious name), posted the following “Problems with GotoWebinar never end… Argh. Wish THEY were listening here. But they don’t even listen when I call them up”

So I emailed Max and asked about the specific issues and Max’s customer experience with GotoWebinar because it is one of the easiest tools I have found to conduct webinars. Max send me the details and here are the three takeaways:

  • I’ve communicated about them online, and got no response
  • Instead some of their COMPETITORS have responded to us to see if they can fulfill our needs
  • The problems have only escalated, causing me to be somewhat more vocal about my issues

What? Competitors were listening and they responded to take away your business? Max has close to 150 followers – just by posting a tweet about real experience about a product, Max had instantly spread the word to 150 people and also competitors that GotoWebinar has issues. Within a day, somebody else had asked Max the same question – Max responded “Mostly audio issues… both telephone and VOIP, which they just introduced. And really lacking in customer communication”.

Same day, Max again posted “Surprised by the response to my GTW issues… more responses than last time I voiced some frustration…” – so did GotoWebinar folks follow what is being said about them on twitter? – maybe.

I cannot tell you how important it is for companies to have a good presence on social media channels (blogs, twitter) and more importantly follow what is being said. Rick Burnes from Hubspot recently wrote a great blog post “How to kill a conversation and suck life out of a blog” on this topic.

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How to make a case for social media?

Just last night, I was talking to one of my friends about how some companies are still not embracing social media to their advantage and are still relying solely on traditional marketing methods.

His response was “but I don’t think many people read blogs – for that matter, I don’t think most of my customers read blogs”. This is true – there are less people who say that they explicitly read blogs.

But my argument was that the purpose of social media is not primarily for those who are already on your site, but to help you get in front of those users who don’t know about you, but are searching for the stuff that you have via a search engine.

So it was refreshing for me to see David Meerman Scott’s latest blog post Why “do you use social media” is the wrong thing for marketers to ask addresses just this issue – worth a read!!

Five reasons why I blog and my eight blogging recommendations

I have been asked the question – “Why do I blog?” twice recently – once by a reader of this blog from as far away as New Zealand.

Great question and one that I had to ask myself before I wrote this post. So here are my reasons (Listed in the order by which I got started on this path).

1) Get good at writing – I wanted to improve my writing skills and get better at expressing my opinions or thoughts on topics. I started off on very random topics to begin with. Even to this day, I re-read my posts on this blog and rewrite portions of it to improve my writing skills.

2) Single store for good resources I find or for my product management experiences – Services like del.icio.us were interesting at first, but got unwieldy at best after I had too many links stored there. I have come back and searched my own blog to find posts I have written myself or find other articles I referenced in my post. I know it is here when I need it.

3) Write about something I am very passionate about – product management – Identifying market problems, solving them and shipping products that solve them is what I enjoy the most at work.

4) Market myself – Let the world know that I exist. I get a great sense of satisfaction when I see other product management bloggers reference my posts in their blogs . I have also got recruiting calls lately asking me if I would interested in pursuing some job opportunities and they tell me they found me via this blog. Definitely a good feeling when others think you know something that is valued.

5) Share and learn – I enjoy reading other’s blogs, sharing my experiences via comments on other people’s blogs or my own blog posts and seeing traffic coming in from the blogs that I comment on. You can never stop learning and what a great way to do it when you can get advice from some of the smartest and experienced product managers around the world.

So what are my recommendations for new bloggers based on what I have learnt along the way – (btw, this is my third blog – I got locked out of my first blog – it is a long story, my second one was on Vox and this is the one that has been in existence the most)

1. Start slow – It is easy to go gung ho when you get started and then lose momentum and interest immediately after (exercising comes to mind). Get into the habit of writing new posts at least once a week, then get to twice a week and so on.

2. Pick a good name for your blog – “Just because you build it, they will not come” – people need to find you. Having a good name that reflects what you write about and what a lot of people search on will help since it will be in your blog’s URL and search engines give a lot of weightage if the term is in the URL. Here are some of my blog’s old names before I settled on the current name of “Software Product Manager”

  1. Gopal’s random ramblings – you know how well that went
  2. Bazaar Buzz – I knew something was wrong when I was writing about product management and most of the people visiting my site were searching for “farmer’s market” or “Bazaar”.
  3. gopalshenoy.com – Unfortunately my name is not that famous that I can expect a whole lot of people to search my name in Google

3. Don’t blog in a vacuum – I used to just blog here and do nothing else. Then I started reading other blogs and commenting on other people’s blogs and sharing my perspectives and then I saw increase in traffic. Make sure your URL is visible in your comments and if applicable (and only if applicable) reference your blog post. If the blog you are commenting on is popular, those who find your comments helpful will likely visit your site. But don’t ever spam just because you want to bring traffic to your site.

4. Be genuine and share your experiences and knowledge – Be genuine, write from your heart (do not make it corporate speak), know what you are writing about. It is OK to be wrong about something (remember the learning part), admit if you were wrong and how you have learnt from what someone else has said.

5. Make friends among bloggers and get them to link to your posts from theirs: Pagerank matters. Just being on other blogrolls does not help (in fact, many of the blogroll links may have the nofollow tag and hence search engines completely ignore them). You want others to reference your post in the text of their posts. Write something good and useful so that they can reference your posts.

6. Return the favor: When you find some good posts on other blogs, write about them and link to their posts. There is nothing that says that every post has to be your own. If you find a good post, make your readers aware of it and write a small blurb which will get them to read that great post as well. It is all about sharing with others great things you find. But, don’t ever plagiarize.

7. Search engine optimize your blog: This is something I have not fully done yet (have done some) because I am still using the vanilla wordpress.com service and not wordpress.org service and hence have not fully exploited all the things I could do with the latter. But it is important – again you need to be found by others. SEO is an ongoing thing.

8. Generate new content – Your readers (and search engines for that matter) like new content. To make sure I have enough to write about, I jot down things as I come across it. When I have more time some days than others, I write more than one post and schedule it (wordpress allows that) so that I will have new content showing up on my blog on a regular basis. Like everything else, get into a habit of doing this. If you truly enjoy blogging, it will be fun and not a chore.

I hope this answers those who asked me the question and thanks for asking. If anyone else has other reasons why they blog and more tips for bloggers, please share with us.

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