My Swiss Army Knife

Twitter is a public instant messaging tool. It allows users to send updates or answer one another’s questions, but within limits of 140 characters (that’s numbers, letters, spaces, punctuation, etc.) per update. Thus, brevity is key.

So how could something so simple (and, some might say, so seemingly useless) become an increasingly important tool to help businesses engage with their customers? To answer that, let’s look at the way some businesses are using Twitter.

* ComcastCares is Frank Eliason, a one-man damage control unit for Comcast. If a Comcast customer has a tech support issue, Frank is often their first — and sometimes only — point of contact. He can personally diagnose the problem and often helps a person resolve the issue without having to spend precious hours on the phone. And what’s good for Comcast’s customers is good for Comcast.

* Adagio Teas uses Twitter to poll their customers about their tea drinking habits, offer tea tips, announce new products and flavors, and issue coupon codes that are redeemable in their web store.

* Mimobot is Evan Blaustein, founder and CEO of Mimoco, which produces stylish USB Flash Drives designed to look like outlandish cartoon characters. He uses Twitter as a way to keep in touch with his audiences, announce sales, promote Mimobot booths at trade shows and more. But he also hosts a series of daily contests designed to keep his followers (or “subscribers,” in Twitter parlance) paying attention; contest winners receive a free Mimobot.

* Huffington Post is the Twitter arm of the powerful political blog of the same name. Their Twitter account is an aggregator of all their authors’ articles; it sends out an automated update every time a new piece is posted. To them, Twitter is purely a promotion channel.

* Betty Draper is a character on the AMC original TV series Mad Men, which uses Twitter as a novel way to interact directly with their audience through the personae of their characters. (At least, that was the assumption; the reality of the situation is a bit more complicated…)

As you can see, there are numerous ways that a business can choose to engage their audience on Twitter. And judging by the number of followers each of the above examples has, their customers consider these companies’ approaches to add value to their web experience.

So… how could YOUR company use Twitter? (And, if you already are, what’s YOUR approach? If you’d like to see more examples, check out this list of the Top 40 Brands Using Twitter on Mashable — and, while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter!)

Image by herzogbr.






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