A session today at the Web 2.0 expo examined how Twitter can be used as a business tool. Twitter has been gaining lots of momentum over the past year and has more recently reached mainstream status.
But beyond the minutiae of “what are you doing” noise on Twitter (great parody here), what about using it as a business tool? About half the 200 people in the session raised their hands for having used Twitter for business or commercial reasons (we had a lot of success using Twitter at our last conference).
Lots of companies have started to shine the light on what is possible with Twitter by using it to monitor the conversations around their brands, to promote themselves, and even as a customer service tool. Well-known early Twitter adopters are companies such as Hulu, Kodak and JetBlue.
Comcast has gotten some exposure for monitoring and reacting to consumer complaints on Twitter by tracking certain keywords. It has actually solved a number of customer issues directly this way (and got some good PR). Follow it at @comcastcares.
Conference social networking service Crowdvine (which we’re using at our next conference) did the same thing by responding to a consumer complaint that led to a bug fix in its software. Interestingly, in the 24 hours between the original tweet and Crowdvine’s response, a competing service swooped in to join the conversation.
“If you’re not happy with Crowdvine, try xxxxx,” the tweet read on the screen shot shown by speaker Sarah Milstein, cofounder of 20slides.com.
Local businesses are starting to join the twittersphere as well. Milstein pointed out that Twitter’s advanced search feature allows users to find conversations happening around dates, people, themes, keywords or places. SMBs can use this to monitor conversations around their brands, like the above examples, or conduct locally targeted market research.
“Say you’re a dog trainer that wants to open shop in Los Angeles, and you want to find out what the demand is like,” said Milstein. “You can filter tweets and sample demand through the conversation that is happening around keywords in that specific area.”
On the local front, Coupons.com has started to distribute coupon codes on Twitter, and Twitter CEO Evan Williams has alluded to evolving Twitter into tool that serves more geotargeted content such as news.