By Thanzyl Thajudeen
All of you must be wondering as to what I’m talking about – a verb as I name ‘kurulu handa’ – well, is it the meaning for birds chirping in the Singhalese language? Yes, it is – but it’s the birds that chirp in the digital world – known as ‘tweeting’.
And where is the nest where you hear all this ‘kurulu handa’? Yes, it’s Twitter – what we all know as the world’s fast growing micro blogging site. The most amazing thing with this ‘kurulu handa’ is that there is not much noise and clutter – it’s only a say of just 140 characters – how sweet is that?
However, many top level executives throughout many organisations locally do not know the power of this ‘kurulu handa’ in this interconnected world we live in. Unfortunately, many local organisations hear their own ‘internal politics handa’.
According to the latest statistics, Twitter now boasts over 175 million accounts, along with the number of Twitter users increasing by 370,000 every day. Twitter gets 95 million tweets per day – that’s quite a lot of ‘kurulu handa’ out there.
Why do peoplefollow brands that give out on Twitter?
- To get time-to-time updates on potential future products or services
Many people on Twitter sign up for a brand or an organisation, in order to get updates on future products and services, modifications and new product developments. From a brand’s perspective, Twitter is a useful PR tool for creating effective buzz around a new product launch – forget about the traditional one-day product launch events, etc. From FMCGs through to industrial and financial services sector, get all your updates tweeting.
- To engage effectively with the brand or the organisation
People in today’s world need and want to stay informed about the activities of the brand and the organisation, and hence they become ‘followers’ to interact with, share their own thoughts and ideas as well as provide feedback about services or products – whether positive or negative. Both of these extremes are opportunities for the brand or organisation. This leads to higher customer engagement, thus making a very effective and interactive customer feedback tool that can be used.
- To increase cost and time savings
In today’s recessionary world we live in, people often tend to decrease costs and their time spent – Twitter is a rich source where much information within 140 characters are displayed. Many people follow an organisation or a brand to receive discounts, price-offs and promotions.
This triggers people to find more in-depth information about upcoming sales, discount events and free samples or coupons by externally visiting a site – or walking into the outlet physically! It surely is a tool to encourage brand loyalty and drive in meaningful sales to the organisation.
- To show their loyalty towards the brand or organisation
Many people follow and make conversations on Twitter to show brands and organisations their support and loyalty levels – and to show their whole followers list how much they love your brand or organisation!
This leads to them acting as a brand advocate and key influencers for your brand. Have you ever thought of engaging them in the right way? Try it; they will help spread positive word-of-mouth about your brand and organisation to the whole Twitter community!
- To have brand fun and entertainment
Whilst keeping all the above in mind, people also do follow brands on Twitter simply for entertainment and no other reason. Ask a person ‘Why do you follow XYZ brand?’ The answer will probably be ‘just,’ ‘it’s fun,’ or ‘it’s entertaining and interacting’ – this is a good sign!
This tells us finally that brands and organisations need to monitor and evaluate the way they engage their followers through Twitter and include ingredients such as more fun, interactive and entertaining content, like videos and pictures, rather than just news and updates! A picture is worth 1,000 words!
How does your brand or organisation work on Twitter?
Just like you give out your voices in the traditional environment, learn to give them out in the digital world – where there are millions of birds tweeting with just 140 characters.
- Share: Update, update, and update!
Many organisations globally are updating the latest happenings, product launches, new services offered, discounts and events, announcements, or just greetings – for example, ‘good morning’! Or ‘have a nice weekend’!
Local organisations never do this – highly doubt that they are even on Twitter yet. Yes, this is true – the majority of them are not on Twitter. Even if there are some – the latest tweet would be some four months, or for the worst, one or two years old! Wow, isn’t this interesting?
As stated previously, people get into Twitter not for brand and organisations to just be there and watch their last tweet being months or years old! Stop being selfish – start updating or you might as well forget about the potential opportunities it opens up and possibly even damage your brand!
- Engage: Listen, ask, and respond in real time
Get yourself on Twitter every time to time and give your ears to the conversations and other comments with regard to your brands, product, or the organisation – listening is very crucial – listen to their ‘kurulu handa’ carefully, monitor them and evaluate.
Then, ask them – ask the followers – there always needs to be an ongoing dialogue. Do you know how much potential you could gain from them by asking? Yes, clean, clear and valuable insights!
Go out there and show them that you are listening to all that they say! Say that their answers are just more impressive than anything else! Responding to them is the most critical thing here – be aware of each and every word you put into that 140 characters box!
This should not be a one-off thing. Yes, this is a one-off thing in the Sri Lankan context. May it be a brand, event, or an organisation, it only has hype for just a moment, may be a few days or few hours, and then there is no engagement at all.
Twitter is not a place for seasonal or an ‘as I wish’ place – it’s an ongoing process of tweeting and engaging your followers. Simple principle: If you do not respect them, how could you receive their respect?
- Reward your followers and exhibit leadership among stakeholders
Followers loved being rewarded by their favourite brands and organisations – so just give it to them. When you are carrying out seasonal or ongoing discounts, offers and other loyalty programmes, tweet about them and couple them up with some good photographs and pictures using Flickr or your own site gallery!
Reward them and they will reward your brand and organisation! Even if there are other happenings in the industry related to yours, go and tweet them – whether articles or links, show your followers that you are industry-wide!
Learn to re-tweet, re-tweet and re-tweet! All your stakeholders are on Twitter – be it your investors, customers, suppliers, media and most of all, your own employees. Re-tweet their tweets relevant to your brand and organisation, show them that you are with them and engage with them on a continuous basis.
This is all it takes to practice perfectly on Twitter – it’s a challenge and is certainly most interesting and more interactive than traditional methods. Finally, it’s strategically very critical that your brand or organisation has the same voice you give out in the physical world – do not confuse. There needs to be identity and consistency in whatever communications or the ‘kurulu handa’ you tweet on Twitter.
Local organisations need to get into Twitter and start giving out the ‘kurulu handa’ – follow these rules and it’s simple. There is no necessity for you to get into some costly training – just get online and learn from online tutorials.
I bet there are many things to learn about Twitter, all at no cost. You just need some time and dedication to learn and use them, get closer to your followers and make your ‘kurulu handa’ on the top of the tree.
(The writer is a 21st century marketer and is the world’s youngest Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He provides advice and ideas on industry, marketing, strategy, communications, digital and social media and strategic reputation. You can reach him on email@example.com. You can now follow him on @Thanzyl on Twitter.)