Engage with their customers, especially on a personable one-on-one basis, reach out to the media and influencers, and use it to announce breaking news, promotions, contests and events was some of the advice four WNY marketing professional gave to the audience on Friday morning at the Buffalo Museum of Science on how to use Twitter for their business.
The discussion, “Best Practices for Businesses on Twitter” (#tweetbiz), featured a panel of four WMY marketing professionals from different facets of business including attractions, media and consumer goods. The talk was organized by the Social Media Club of Buffaloand was part of Ad Week Buffalo.
Some of the successes highlighted during Friday’s Twitter talk involved increased media exposure, sales and brand awareness. Mike Schuler, Promotions and Interactive Media Manager at Darien Lake Resorts (@darienlake) used Twitter to help slumping tickets sales during one especially rainy summer. He put together a campaign called “Soak Up the Sun” and for one day, during a two hour period, consumers could by tickets to the theme park for $10.
“We sold 9,000 tickets in two hours,” said Schuler. “ It was thee most successful two hours that we ever had (during) my time there. There’s a lot of work that went into that campaign. I went through our followers at the time and figured out ‘Who are our influencers?’ I contacted those that had 1,000 followers of their own and let them know about the promotion. I sent them a tweet and asked them to re-tweet it.”
Schuler let about 1,000 of his most influential followers know about the sale and it caught the attention of a local TV news station who also promoted the sale on air. The channel announced the promotion on the 5 o’clock news and Schuler reacted by extending the promotion longer in order to capture sales from TV viewers.
A common problem many businesses have involving Twitter is lack of followers and lack of conversation and engagement with their businesses on Twitter. Kevin Evanteski, Social Media Manager for Statler City (@statlercity) just started Statler City’s Twitter account and held a “Twitter Tour” in order to promote the Statler and to get people talking about the building. He invited members of Buffalo’s Social Media Club to take a private Saturday morning tour of the building and created a special hashtag, #StatlerTour, for members to use in their tweets.
“We had other Twitter users telling our story, taking photos of the Statler and posting it,”said Evantesk. “At the time, 15 people showed up and we had 217 tweets with the hash tag. The actual reach was over 21,000 people on Twitter and a quarter million impressions. We got such a great response from doing this, now we are doing other public tours.”
“We are actually connecting with media more on Twitter and if we ever needed to do any location-based live tweeting like at the zoo, we would be able to attract people right there and then,” said Elena Kunsevich, Social Media and Web Coordinator at Perry’s Ice Cream (@perrysicecream) about the advantages of using Twitter.
Kunsevich has also used Twitter to get out brand-related news quickly, like when Perry’s Ice Cream was featured on an episode of the TV show “The Apprentice.” Because of restrictions involving the show, Kunsevich wasn’t allowed to talk about the episode until the day before it aired. Using Twitter, she was able to reach many people quickly about Perry’s appearance in the show.
“We wanted to share our story with the people here in Buffalo and a lot of the news channels caught up right away with our story,” said Kunsevich after tweeting about the upcoming episode. “We had a couple of interviews and we tweeted during the airing of the episode. WNY was pretty proud for a local brand to make it on “The Apprentice” and at one point we had a TweetReach of 30,000 possible followers.”
S.J. Velasquez, Multimedia Content Coordinator at Buffalo Dot Com (@buffalodotcom)uses Twitter to engage with their audience and to draw people to Buffalo.com. It also helps to create content on the website.
“We get awesome story ideas from our followers,” said Velasquez. “We really do value what you have to say and we use it on our site.”
Velasquez also says they have done a few events on Twitter in order to further engage people, like Twit Pic Tuesday, when the staff of Buffalo.com would go out and take photos in various parts of Western New York and have their followers guess where the photo was taken. Followers who guessed correctly were awarded prizes.
While using Twitter might benefit your business, doing so takes a lot of work and planning, stressed members of the panel. If you are not ready for the hard work and commitment of running an active twitter account, you might be damaging your online reputation rather than helping it.
“It’s the equivalent of opening up an empty store front,” said Evanteski about businesses that don’t maintain active Twitter accounts. “So many businesses on Twitter; you go to their account and they haven’t posted since September 2010. Perception is everything. Sometimes you only get one first impression. If someone interacts with you and you don’t respond, (they are) probably not going to interact with you again.”
The panel also encouraged the audience to be aware of any rules and restrictions on using social media in their business practices.
“Before you open an account you have to have a conversation with the C-Suite; you have to have a transparency policy in place,” said Schuler. “If I open an account for a financial firm and I don’t have the requirements down from the SEC for communications, it’s not going to last very long.”
Mostly, the panel stressed that businesses should be on Twitter because that is where their customers are and they are already talking about your business on there.
“You really know exactly what they (customers) are thinking, exactly when they are thinking it,” said Schuler. “I’ve gotten complaints via Twitter while people were in-line for a ride. It’s become primarily the number one way we interact with our guests (through social media.)”