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How do you Twitter: Andy Beal?

Every day for the next week or so I will be interviewing a variety of marketers, advertisers, bloggers, SEO consultants, businesses, artists and Internet gurus on the latest micro blogging sensation to hit the interwebs, Twitter.

Today Internet marketing consultant, Andy Beal, gives us his opinions on Twitter and some pointers on how to use it to promote your brand.


Will we still be tweeting in 5 years time?


I really do believe Twitter will be going strong in 5 years from now. Twitter has become a vital channel for quick, broadcasted messages. For me, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have access to Twitter.


What can a big name brand do to get the most out of Twitter?


If nothing else, a big brand can listen. Search.Twitter.com makes it easy for businesses to set up custom searches and then subscribe to an RSS feed. Why wouldn’t you want to know about an annoyed customer? Chances are, if they’re using Twitter, they also have a blog. Twitter gives you a chance to reach them and resolve the matter, before they hit “publish” on their blog.

That leads to the other important reason for brands to use Twitter–engaging their customers. Sure, you could have the official twitter.com/bigbrandhere account and reach out in an anonymous fashion–that’s a start. But, when you let your employees use Twitter to reach out on a personal basis, that’s when you start building a personal dialogue with your customers.


Can you fully trust a brand on Twitter?  You can never tell who is tweeting, it could be anyone from the CEO to an intern.


I agree, but it’s better than no contact at all. A corporate brand on Twitter only works if the account is used as a two-way dialogue with customers, employees, media, etc. Simply using Twitter as another channel to publish your press releases is not going to get things done.


Would you say it’s a requirement for any company to now be on Twitter or does it depend on their business?


It really does depend on your business. I would suggest setting up a corporate Twitter profile–I’ve been a victim of a brand-squatter and it was tough to get the account back. You may want to just “listen” to start with, but having that account means you can “break the glass in emergency.”  Of course, some businesses will likely never have a business reason to use Twitter. I don’t suspect sheep farmers will find many client conversations on Twitter. ;-)


Are we losing our ‘real life’ social skills because of the increase in social media tools?


Not at all. Twitter is becoming “real life” so I think the lines between the web and the outside world are blurring. If anything, I would say that Twitter is enabling us all to become more “social.” I know many shy people that have used Twitter as a means to come out of their shell.  The only real downside is the tendency to say “LOL” when some makes a joke in real life–something I’ve almost found myself saying. :-)


When people ask you ‘Where were you when Obama was elected’, will your answer be ‘On Twitter’?


No! In fact, I cut down my Twitter usage leading up to the elections. Why? Because people that were normally polite and fun, became rabid political banshees during the elections. Thankfully, I have four years of normalcy before having to go through that again.


You clearly don’t just follow anyone.  How do you decide who makes the cut?


Great question. Some people ask why I don’t follow all those that follow me. Well, I simply don’t know all of the 5,000+ people that follow me. As I get to know people, as they engage me in interesting conversations, I start to follow them.  In the meantime, I have Twitter set up to alert me to all “@andybeal” messages, so even if I don’t follow you, you can still reach me.


If you could only follow one person, who would it be and why?


My wife @govisithawaii she’s the only person that consistently makes me smile, challenges me, and shares my interests.


Anything else to say about Twitter?


Yeah, the 140 character limit can suck sometimes. 99% of my Tweets fit the limit, but it would be nice to occasionally have the extra characters.

Thanks!

Thanks Andy, definitely some great advice for brands wishing to fully utilize the power of twitter.  I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions.

Tomorrow Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine will be giving us an insight into SM’s experience with Twitter.

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