Click Asia Summit 2011: Boosting a business via Twitter

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | January 24, 2011
After a short 'Twitter 101' presentation, Pradeep Chopra of Digital Vidya explained the various ways that brands and businesses can use the social networking site.

On Day 2 of the Click Asia Summit 2011 being held in Mumbai, Pradeep Chopra, co-founder and chief executive officer, Digital Vidya conducted a riveting and open forum discussion on how the new age social media platform, Twitter, with the now-iconic little blue birdie, can give an impetus to a brand's marketing initiatives.

Digital Vidya, which is a digital marketing training company, conducts social media marketing workshop series in India. Since January 2010, it has worked with numerous companies and brands, conducting public bootcamps and corporate workshops across India, where professionals from companies such as eBay, Naukri, MakeMyTrip, Ericsson, IndiaMART, Intuit, Asian Paints, Tata Motors, Motilal Oswal, Onida, Candid Marketing, General Motors and Quasar Media have participated.

At the summit, Chopra focussed on how Twitter can be used as a social media platform to further one's business. He said that Twitter started with the thought that while people blog and send emails to friends and co-workers, 'life' happens between these blog posts and emails, and Twitter allowed people to upload tidbits from their lives in 140 characters.

Since its launch in July 2006, the platform has grown phenomenally - and more so in India, with people such as Shashi Tharoor, Chetan Bhagat and Bollywood actors drawing much attention to the site. The 26/11 incident also saw humungous Twitter activity, with people managing to help a lot of victims' families and others, too, through it.

Chopra said that 80 per cent of events happening in the US use Twitter for updates, even if these are not digital related events.

Brands, he said, can effectively use Twitter to accomplish many things. It's the fastest way to spread information, manage customer care, have open forums, share deals and offers, generate leads, get new ideas and boost creativity, as well as conduct internal employee communication and discussions with the consumer.

He went on to share the example of a mobile fusion food truck, Kogi Korean BBQ in the US, which used Twitter to spread information about its offerings and locations. While the stand was visited by about 10 people per stop earlier, soon after leveraging Twitter and YouTube, it attracted 800 people per stop.

Another example of a food brand leveraging Twitter was of that of Faaso's - a small restaurant chain in Pune that started taking orders via the social networking site. All people had to do was to key in their order with the handle and the order was delivered anywhere the patron wanted.

Interestingly, this way, people following the patron on Twitter also saw the restaurant's name, thereby further generating buzz for the restaurant.

"This is a great opportunity for retailers. I'm also in talks with frozen yogurt chain Cocoberry to do something like this," said Chopra.

He shared his personal experience of how Twitter helped resolve an issue he had with ICICI Bank, where after three weeks of following up, one post on Twitter got ICICI Bank's attention and it solved the problem immediately, after apologising to him on the social media page.

"You can just tweet using a brand's name if you are facing a problem and more often than not, it will be addressed," he said. Thus, if brands are listening closely enough, they can solve customer issues via this medium.

"Twitter is the best listening media, where 'follow' stands for listening in," he said.

However, explaining the strategic approach behind Twitter, he shared that one should know the objective, find the target audience there, follow people, closely listen to what's being said about one's brand and use the hash (#) tags smartly.

He suggested a three-step process to efficient Twitter usage - follow, create and engage. As an example, he cited the case of Vodafone, which used Twitter to promote its offers and discounts.

The telecom major put out some discounts and followed people talking about Vodafone's products and services. Next, it created links to online promotions, insider information and discount codes and also offered Twitter-only offers to reward loyalty. It engaged by checking DMs (direct messages), replying regularly, answering questions, acknowledging feedback and also by providing information when requested.

Chopra further added that the difference between Facebook and Twitter is that on Facebook, one connects with people one already knows, but on Twitter, one makes new friends and new contacts. Thus, the number of new relationships that can be built on Twitter are very high.
Twitter Search allows finding and following specific keywords. It connects people to the people and keeps them informed about the newest trends and happenings.

Chopra revealed, "Did you know that Twitter is the second largest search engine that sees 20 billion searches every month, behind Google with 90 billion searches, followed by Yahoo! with 13 billion searches."

Twitter's trending topics feature the most used words or searches appearing on Twitter and can keep one abreast with the latest happenings. Also, like Google Alerts, Twitter mail alerts are also possible, which send messages to one's inbox in case one chooses not to stay logged on all day. It also allows scheduling tweets, where one can plan messages and communication for the near future.

Brands can use all these tools and listen in, not only to follow if something negative is being said about them, but also to understand the market sentiment that surrounds them.

Not surprisingly, The Click Asia Summit also had a Twitter hash tag (#CAS2011) for people to follow and comment on.

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