An Inspired Use of Twitter?

Can we finally make Twitter work for business?

Some time ago, I blogged about our company Twitter account. We now have around 160 followers which sounds marginally interesting. Only, it’s not.

The biggest problem is perhaps our name, which includes the word ‘computers’. This has unfortunately invited scores of computer shops, assorted geeks and a plethora of ‘bots’ to follow us. From a business perspective, this is next to useless, as none of these people are potential or existing customers (of which we only have around 5 following us).

We’ve marketed the fact we’re on Twitter. It’s on every e-shot we send out, for example, but it simply hasn’t caught on. Several customers have signed up, only to leave their account untouched, no doubt somewhat bemused at the service’s insistence on asking what they’re up to. I don’t blame them; taking on Twitter from a commercial point of view isn’t an easy decision.

Or is it?

We had a brainwave recently which has transformed the way we use Twitter. As you may know, Twitter publishes RSS feeds for anyone that tweets. RSS feeds are highly useful as they can be incorporated into any website and, as we’ve discovered, locally-installed applications.

Without going into too much detail, we develop software for hotels. One element of this software has always been earmarked as a potential tool to distribute news to our customers. News and, of course, product promotion.

So, our clever technical team very quickly incorporated our Twitter RSS feed into said application. They’ve done it in such a way that the end user has no idea the text they are reading has come from Twitter. It wouldn’t matter if this wasn’t the case, of course, but it looks a little tidier and bespoke as a result. Clicking the links takes them directly the URL within the tweet, not the tweet itself, and we’ve even got a bit clever with dates and such so that only the last seven day’s worth of tweets is displayed and, if none are available, or the internet connection is down, the news section disappears altogether.

I’d encourage any software developer to consider this method of utilising Twitter. The alternative we had was to make our application display a web page, but updating this would be a much more arduous task. In comparison, Twitter can be updated with a couple of clicks and from anywhere, as long as we’ve got an internet connection.

Please get in touch or comment below if you’ve found similar ways of making Twitter work for your business. I’d love to hear from you.

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