Practical Ecommerce

The PEC Review: TwitPic, for Sharing Photos on Twitter

Social media marketing is one of the most potent new promotional trends available to ecommerce businesses. Services like Twitter allow you to build two-way relationships with your customers wherein you can get nearly instant feedback about your product offerings and promotions, and gain a much better understanding of the market.

The secret (as many an expert will tell you) is to authentically engage with your customers and potential customers. Think of the local shops and stores that were prevalent 100 years ago. In those establishments, customers and clerks engaged in real and human ways. The clerks knew the customers to the point of knowing likes and dislikes, personal milestones (birthdays), and more. A more modern example might be your local Starbucks coffee shop. If you’re a regular, the barista probably knows your name, or at least your drink.

Social media marketing, particularly for online retailers, is analogous to this sort of clerk-to-customer relationship. First, you listen to your customers. Second, you engage.

But social networks like Twitter have limitations too. You cannot be verbose. You get just 140 characters, including a link, so what you link to really matters. And, for this review, I’ll remind you that a picture is worth a thousand words.

TwitPic is a free service that lets you share photographs and other images (or at least links to them) quickly and easily on Twitter. It is incredibly simple and easy, and I believe it could be a very effective tool. That is why I have awarded TwitPic four out of a possible five stars in this “The PEC Review.”

“The PEC Review” is my weekly column created specifically to introduce you to products or services that I believe will help you improve your ecommerce operation. This week, let me tell you why I think you should add TwitPic to your social marketing toolbox.

Video: Add TwitPic to Your Social Media Marketing Toolbox

How TwitPic Works

At its most basic function, TwitPic is an image hosting service that lets you post links to photos or images in your Twitter stream. You can upload the images from the TwitPic site; from your Blackberry, Android phone, or iPhone; or via the TwitPic application programming interface (API).

Each TwitPic user also gets a custom email address. Send an image to the address and the link shows up in your Twitter stream.

What TwitPic Adds

If posting images was all that TwitPic did, it might not be as great, since you could do that fairly well from your blog. But TwitPic also has a sort of social following, wherein TwitPic users follow the public stream and tweet links for other folks’ images or actually follow their friends’ TwitPic activities directly. Thus your photos get amplified beyond the normal tweets and retweets you’d expect to get on Twitter.

To see examples of the service’s loyal users and followers, search Twitter for the term “TwitPic.” You will likely see hundreds of tweets that are just seconds old. You might also try searching for “TwitPic” in the “Search People” section of Twitter, as several users have actually included the phrase in their profile names.

Results of a search on Twitter for "TwitPic."

Results of a search on Twitter for "TwitPic."

Using TwitPic for Your Online Marketing

While I am certain there are some very creative marketers who will have come up with much better ways to use TwitPic in their social marketing, I wanted to share with you two ways that I think it could be put to good use in your campaigns.

Add Image Uploads to Reviews and Comments

The TwitPic API allows you to integrate photo uploading on your website. In my opinion, this just begs to be combined with product reviews or blog comments. Simply allow customers to upload images of themselves using the products you sell. You might even make it a contest.

Once the API is in place, you will have a nearly automatically way of sharing site content on Twitter. You will, of course, want to build in some form of moderation.

Add Event or Employee Images

If you hold company events, even a company barbecue, it is a good idea to post photos on TwitPic. Remember, social marketing is akin to the clerk and customer relationship. That means it doesn’t always have to be about business. It is all right to talk about the weather, sports, or even the company barbecue.

For example, take a look at TOMS Shoes on Twitter. The company has more than 430,000 followers, and recently used TwitPic to post a photo of company employees playing ping-pong and cooking in an alley near their building.

Screen shot of TOMS Shoes Twitter stream showing a link to a TwitPic photo.

Screen shot of TOMS Shoes Twitter stream showing a link to a TwitPic photo.

Summing Up

TwitPic is an easy-to-use and free service that can help you quickly get links to photos posted in your Twitter stream. The tool will help you engage with customers in a very human way, and can be integrated via an API into your site’s product reviews or comments. For all of these reasons, I am awarding TwitPic four out of a possible five stars in this review.

Lastly, I will leave you with the YouTube video of a recent interview with TwitPic founder Noah Everett that originally aired on Mashable.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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