Twitter Grabs Affiliate Attention by Lisa Picarille

by Shawn Collins on June 18, 2008

Microblogging is great method for communicating with affiliates and consumers.

Brevity is not only the soul of wit, it is the foundation of Twitter, a free, burgeoning social networking/micro blogging service that provides savvy online marketers a highly effective way to communicate with consumers, peers and influencers 140 characters at a time.

On first glance Twitter resembles a glorified version of instant messaging that allows you to send out text-based updates (albeit a 140 character limit). These updates or tweets are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them via Twitter.com or through a third party application such as Twhirl or Twitterific.

And while Twitter is still primarily the domain of early adopters it is gaining traction.

Since its launch in the summer of 2006, Twitter has been one of the fastest-growing apps on the Internet. According to March figures from the company, Twitter is likely to reach 1 million users by June. However, other statistics claim that based on registered Twitter IDs, the number of Twitter users already exceed nearly 12 millions users.

Although, Twitter asks its users to answer the question, “What are you doing?”, it’s gone way beyond just personal updates from friends and peer and is now being used to pose questions, do crowd sourcing, conduct informal research and market products and services.

Twitter appeals to online marketers because, like other presence platforms, is an immediate way for people to communicate their thoughts and ideas. Marketers can leverage it by selling to the user directly or by seeing major trends in the millions of daily public posts.

There are several strategies for making the most of Twitter. For marketers, it can extend the reach for companies that already have a blogging strategy in place and want to deepen or further ties to its users. It allows merchants to announce sales and deals immediately to its consumers or to affiliates. It can be used to link to blogs, websites or news updates. Twitter is useful to build consensus or a community of supporters and fans. It can also help build buzz and shape personal or corporate branding.

Some merchants are using Twitter to put a human face on their brand and communicate directly with their users. According to Forrester Research’s web strategies analyst Jeremiah Owyang, Twitter is a great way to establish a trust with community members – to get personal and be personable.

For example: Zappos.com CEO, Tony Hsieh, has attracted more than 2,000 Twitter followers through his amusing tweets and shoe giveaways. Airlines Jet Blue and Southwest are also active on Twitter and use the platform to promote blogs, contest, flight updates and answer customer comments.

Gary Vaynerchuk or WineLibraryTV.com has built a huge and rabid following of Twitter followers (more than 7,000 at press time) and uses his popularity to promote his online videos, his books, and sales of wine from his retail outlet. Jason Calacanis, CEO of human powered search engine Mahalo, has more than 22,000 followers and recently used Twitter to get input on a new design for Mahalo.com.

Social media consultant, Stephanie Agresta, president of Stephanie Agresta consulting, says that Twitter is not only an excellent way for merchants to communicate and engage its audience, but for affiliate managers to communicate with affiliates.

Because affiliates vary in how want to receive information – some like phone calls, some prefer email and others want RSS – Twitter messages can be received a variety of ways: on Internet- capable devices, the Web IM, and phone – which makes it a flexible solution for affiliate managers. The more affiliates know about what is going on with a program, the more they can tailor their marketing to convert their traffic into sales, according to Agresta.

Although Twitter is not a magic bullet for sales or success, any platform that improves communication, increases transparency and encourages dialog is worth adding to your arsenal of marketing weapons.

Lisa Picarille is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Revenue, a bimonthly magazine focusing on performance marketing (www.revenuetoday.com). She also co-hosts the weekly Affiliate Thing podcast with Shawn Collins on WebMasterRadio.FM and is a regular on the GeekCast.FM podcast.

Download issue 1 of FeedFront at http://feedfront.com/feedfront-issue1.pdf.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lavelle Collins July 31, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Great article. I'm a bit new to twitter but I've already seen it's potential. It'll be interesting to see how it develops in the future as well.

Lavelle Collins July 31, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Great article. I'm a bit new to twitter but I've already seen it's potential. It'll be interesting to see how it develops in the future as well.

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