One of the latest social networking sites taking hold in the business world is Twitter. At IMS 2009 we had a handful of companies Twittering about the latest product releases, news and happenings on the show floor. We encouraged everyone to use the hashtag (or keyword) #IMS2009 and had a search feed displaying all the Tweets that included it. It seems to be a good tool for events as people can highlight news, gatherings, giveaways, sessions and tutorials prior to and during the show. How can it be used for everyday marketing?

Many companies are using Twitter as a marketing tool to promote their products and services with short descriptions and links to more information. Taking a quick look around Twitter, we see several progressive companies using it including Agilent/Keithley, Tektronix, AWR, CST, TriQuint, NXP, Freescale and, of course, Microwave Journal, to highlight company news, product releases, webinars, training sessions, technical articles and more. The Tweats give a short, enticing description and then a link to the item. Be sure to use a URL shortening tool for the link like or to minimize the URL length so a more effective description can be included.

The key to making Twitter worthwhile is to build up an audience of followers. Without a sizeable, quality audience, Tweets will probably be lost in the sea of millions being sent each day. In order to build an audience, Tweets need to be insightful and provide useful information. The Twitter account ID needs to be widely promoted on your website, newsletters, e-mails, etc., so people are aware of it. Include a Twitter link in a “share” toolbar on all of your web pages. Twitter feeds of your account activity can be added to web pages and blogs with a “follow me” link. Some companies even give incentives to become a follower to build up their audience, and they seek out key members in groups or areas where they might gather online information (i.e., LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.).

Getting your Tweets retweeted is a good way to obtain more exposure and value from your efforts. There are many things to consider in drafting a Tweet to increase the chances it will be retweeted. Quality content that is not too self serving is important but here is a good article on the Top 10 Tips to Get Retweeted.

Don’t just use Twitter as a one way communication tool. Interact with the audience by asking questions or soliciting feedback on various subjects or promotions. Provide useful links to application notes, interesting technical articles, etc. If your Tweets are engaging, it is much easier to build and maintain an audience.

Twitter is still new to the business world and evolving in its use. There are new applications being developed each day that could extend and change its use. While it is not yet a main line marketing tool, it is another potential social media tool that needs to be watched. Think about trying it out (if you have not already) so you can keep up to date and gain experience in ways to use it.

You can follow the MWJ staff on Twitter by following David Vye @mwjournal, Pat Hindle @pathindle and Kristen Andersen (promotional opps) @KAatMWJ.