Flashback Friday: A Conversation with The Top Corporate Twitter Brands: How Can I Unlock the Business Value of Twitter to Innovate, Interact, Inform?

Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies is taking place April 4-6, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Fridays leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping one of the sessions from the 2010 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Event. For more information on this year's event, download the brochure.

A Look Back at SMC2010: A Conversation with The Top Corporate Twitter Brands: How Can I Unlock the Business Value of Twitter to Innovate, Interact, Inform?

Kellie Parker of Sega, Winnie Hsia of Whole Foods and Christi Day of Southwest Air are our panelists at this morning's discussion on how businesses can utilize Twitter to market and to engage with their customers.

How did your brand get into Twitter?

Sega: Twitter was started at Sega about 2yrs ago. They made the decision to have an account for both USA and Europe; but they found that customers were following both Twitter streams so they combined them, providing messaging to all locations.

Whole Foods: Twitter was started at 2008 for the company and now they've provided 2/3 of their stores with their own Twitter. Shoppers want to connect with their store, Whole Foods is actively working for a 100% adoption of Twitter by all of their stores. There is a dedicated person at each store who controls the Twitter communication.

Southwest: Started slowly with Twitter then hit 7,000 new followers per day. Southwest now boasts 3M followers.

In order for the Twitter accounts to be successful, managers must listen and be human with the customers. The focus should never be a "hard sell" it should be a conversation, not a promotion. Finding out your brand advocates and the influentials and work with them, highlight them and make them part of your mission.

There is a customer service component to Twitter, and it helps your customers connect with a real person when they're having difficulties; but what if customers are having a great time with your brand? Christi Day showcased an example for the "Nerd Bird," a flight scheduled from California for Austin, TX for the South By Southwest conference that included a bunch of self-proclaimed "nerds" to the conference. Once Southwest's Twitter team found out about this "Nerd Bird," they were able to schedule a wi-fi plane for the crew - bonus!

What about promotions/coupons?

Sega does "Free Stuff Friday" which works like a radio call-in show, "I've got this t-shirt, the 10th person that DMs us gets it for free." It's worked so well that they've pre-announced the giveaways, blogged about the giveaways and now they've started to videotape the giveaways. It's been a success and now it's a great promotional tool for upcoming games.

Whole Foods does "Twitter Thursdays" and "Facebook Fridays" with giveaways that have included an all expense paid trip. When they give away really cool stuff, something more than gift cards, like a case of peanut butter - it's a success. If people have something that they can really rally around, or they are a fan of something, it matters so much more.

Southwest Air source codes everything that comes from Twitter to the Southwest Air website. By only using their channels, Southwest Air had the largest increase in fare sales in 40 years just by using social media. Before the holidays, Southwest Air gave away 12 gift cards based on the 12 Days of Christmas, asking users to send pictures - the winners won a $1000 gift card for air travel.

Within your Twitter team, it's important to have well-defined roles and a well-defined organizational system. Each member of the team should be able to fill in for one another, to keep the communication and the messaging consistent.

Looking back at the past year, have you incorporated promotions or give-aways into your corporate twitter presence? What other ideas for interaction have you come up with?


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