Practical Ecommerce

Is Twitter an Ecommerce Tool?

I hear it a lot. People say they know they should use Twitter for marketing purposes, but the idea of “Twittering” doesn’t sit well with them. On a personal level, I have no interest in letting the world know what I’m doing hour-to-hour, much less moment-to-moment. But Twittering on behalf of a company, ecommerce websites included, can make a lot of sense, and it can be done without the openness that one might assume.

So, why Twitter? First off, let’s define exactly what “Twittering” is. A Twitter post is a miniature blog that is restricted to 140 characters. The act of Twittering is the process of posting (quickly and easily) these petite, text-only blog entries. The significance and value lies in the same marketing tributary as regular blogs; if you’re good at it, you’ll build a community of followers who want to read your stuff. And these readers, by definition of their choice to follow you, likely share your interests.

Keep in mind, then, that you control the stream; while daily activity is needed to retain interest, a business entity does not have to post constantly throughout the day. An ecommerce company can use Twitter as a marketing tool in many capacities without ten or twenty posts a day. While more activity is always better on Twitter, in many cases, one post a day is enough.

Customer Service, Too

Online businesses like the Dell and Zappos use Twitter to respond to customer questions and to announce special deals. H&R Block uses Twitter as a countdown to tax days, while Southwest Airlines uses it as a customer service vehicle. Ask yourself, does my company have an angle for Twitter? It’s not a matter of coming up with witty Twitter posts each day; it’s about finding a slant for your particular industry or business.

Consider these angles for your ecommerce business:

  • Adding “brand personality” to your not-so-personable sales site.
  • Feedback on products or services.
  • Managing online reputation (putting out fires and augmenting gold stars).
  • Announcing sales, specials, and deals.
  • Building old-fashioned buzz about your company or website.
  • Augmenting your traditional blog as mini-blogs driving traffic to general blogs.
  • Create micro press releases.
  • Cast nets for potential partners.
  • Just make friends.

No matter how you purpose your Twitter account, it is likely to pay dividends. The traffic on Twitter, as you’ve likely heard, is increasing dramatically, and missing out on it isn’t a good idea. Sign up for an account and give it a try. Dedicate ten minutes a day for a month and see what it garners.

Jeff Muendel

Jeff Muendel

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  1. Chris "Cartel" English April 9, 2009 Reply

    Utilizing Twitter has doubled the traffic to both my magazine and record label sites.

    I wasn’t quite sure how to use it for my upcoming store… so thanks for the ideas.

    I see some stores just post their sales in their "tweets" but that tends to go ignored by most I think. I’d rather truly interact with folks as I do with my other accounts and let them see the personality of the people they’ll (hopefully) be purchasing from.

  2. Nate Gilmore April 10, 2009 Reply

    In addition to the listed items above…

    I was discussing the impact of twitter with a friend at subjective search company a few nights ago. Check them out…cool application.

    Aardvark launched at SXSW this year (Twitter launched there last year if memory serves) and they had a lot of twitter hits about their product during SXSW. One thing that was noticed was that their Google Page Rank recently jumped and twitter may have been a been a big source of inbound links.

    If so, they you may get ancillary benefits from twitter. Something to consider.

    Shipwire Order fulfillment

  3. Danna Crawford April 13, 2009 Reply

    Oh c’mon and be a twit! It’s not so bad!

    Follow me:

  4. Bill April 14, 2009 Reply

    lots of good articles people swap and share too, and great for discussions – just search for #ecommerce.

  5. Joe McDonald April 14, 2009 Reply

    The first comment above is important, you have to engage with the community. If you are just twittering one-way about your company then you are just a magazine ad online and people will eventually tune-out. The strength in twitter is the interaction between people. It’s not just "I’m eating an apple"; it’s the exchange of useful information that is quicker then an email or a phone call… or a magazine ad. What I find the most useful about Twitter is that it is so real-time that it almost always gets the jump on the big news media. If I see some trend being discussed on twitter, whether breaking news or industry related, almost always it is several minutes before the news goes mainstream in the media. But the real lesson with Twitter is that It’s a great way to keep your business informed, not just to keep your customers informed about your business. Twitter is the original "mom-and-pop" local corner store with all the news, the deals and the gossip.