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Word Of Tweet Marketing

February 26th, 2008

Twitter, for those of you haven’t heard, is an online communication system where users broadcast their thoughts, feelings, rants, and rambles to the world. Or more precisely, to a subset of the world that wants to listen, and to anybody who stumbles upon such a result in Google. You can follow my tweets if you like; I’m danielpunkass on the service.

Twitter is an amazingly successful service in spite of a never-ending list of negatives thrown out both by people who do and don’t use it. It’s a waste of time. It’s flakey and the servers can’t handle the load. It can’t scale. It’s distracting. People use it to chat too much. People use it to rant too much. Nobody will follow me because I don’t have anything to say. I don’t know who to follow. I just don’t get it. Why would anybody want to do that?

And in spite of all this negativity, people are still using it. Because there are a lot of positives, as well. It’s a way to stay in touch. You learn more personal details about the people you admire. You have nearly instant access to a wide group of friends at once. You have an outlet for your quippy remarks. You make new friends you wouldn’t have otherwise made. It’s something to be a part of.

What I realized today is that as an indie business on the web, there is one incredible payoff to Twitter that doesn’t even require your participation for you to benefit: Twitter is fueling word of mouth marketing. Especially for services, products, and gizmos you can buy online.

I use a service called Terraminds to monitor several important keywords in public tweets across the entire system. What this means is that for instance, if somebody I don’t even know in Germany mentions MarsEdit in a tweet to a friend, I see it. Kind of creepy, huh?

When I see these mentions, I sometimes just move along. But other times, the tone of message catches my interest, so I follow up by clicking on the account of the other person, and discover the tweet that prompted such an out-of-the-blue MarsEdit mention. Often, it’s something about the flakiness of the web interfaces for a blogging system, or an outright request from a person to his or her peers: “Which blog editor for Mac? k thx bye.”

The point, to me, is that the kinds of conversation being facilitated by Twitter are exactly the kinds of talk that foster product endorsements, explicit and otherwise. While publicly blogging your affection for a product takes some deliberation and determination, it’s easy as heck to quip “FastScripts, FTW!” in a moment of delight, or “I’m really digging the new FlickrExport” as you put a product through its paces. Spontaneous declarations of truth are a major part of Twitter culture, and this works perfectly for word of mouth marketing.

You, the people who follow you, and the people you follow form a sort of virtual water cooler that is gigantic and more efficient for casual product endorsement than any other system I can recall or imagine. The fact that some of the people are your friends, and some are just “famous people” whose opinions you admire, creates a perfect storm for stimulating and validating such endorsements. When somebody you respect drops hints that they’re using a particular software or service, you’re likely to take notice. And when you try it and like it, you’ll naturally pay the favor back by tweeting the good news to all of your friends, too.

Is Twitter a waste of time? It might turn out to be the single best marketing aid an online business could ask for, so maybe it deserves to have a little time wasted on it. Like this post? Be sure to tell all your friends on Twitter! :)

7 Responses to “Word Of Tweet Marketing”

  1. The Plaid Cow Says:

    This tweeting sounds like it would integrate well into my new astroturfing campaign. Right up to the point Twitter becomes unusable for everyone.

  2. Manton Reece Says:

    While doing my Wii giveaway promotion I used a combination of Terraminds and “track wii” over Jabber to get any mention of “wii” in tweets. It was pretty incredibly to see all the messages flow through, and I definitely had a new respect for what Twitter afterwards.

    The only problem with Terraminds or some of the other unofficial services is that they can miss tweets every once in a while, because they are just crawling the public timeline and they can only hit it so often. Tracking over Jabber is reliable, but extremely distracting. :-)

  3. Grayson Says:

    I’ve made a point to Twitter (name: Grayson) about every software update I’ve made lately. Mint shows that each product tweet is good for a small handful of downloads.

  4. Mo Says:

    I’ve lost track of the number of “Dear LazyTwitter, what app will do x?” tweets I’ve seen, shortly followed by a “Cool, trying out y” and, regularly, a “Just bought a license for y”.

    Take Fraser Speirs’ VisualHub purchase from yesterday as a good example of that.

  5. jon deal Says:

    I’ve used Google Alerts for a while. Though it’s by no means instantaneous, it also picks up twitter updates.

  6. Andy Kim Says:

    Thanks for the 411 on Terraminds. People flip out when I leave comments on their blogs that I discover through Technorati keyword tracking, but I bet replying to tweets will have 10 times the effect.

    I just found out that you can exclude words with the minus character too. Quite handy when searching for a certain citrus fruit without the dreams.

  7. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Andy – the only problem is you can’t direct message somebody you’re not following. And I think @directed messages won’t get to them either!

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