Today In Twitterverse: How To Use Search To Initiate Brand Conversations

I was scheduled to appear on The BeanCast last night. Sadly, I got my Comcast wires crossed and failed to connect via Skype in time for the recording (my deepest apologies to show host Bob Knorpp and last night’s guests Joseph Jaffe, Len Kendall and Gunther Sonnenfeld).
Had I been able to connect, I would have loved to hash out any number of the given topics, particularly the use of search inside Twitter. Knorpp mentions that 18 billion searches happen on Twitter every month and he asks what the opportunity is for brands (and what it means for Twitter users).
Jaffe says brands needn’t waste time “infiltrating” what is essentially a “conversational platform.” But brands go where the people are–it’s a fundamental law of the marketplace.
According to PC World, the smart way to use Twitter is to search for generic words or phrases. For instance, a company like Domino’s could search for “anyone know pizza” and find queries from people asking their friends for pizza recommendations. A Domino’s rep could then reply to customers with info on nearby shops and include a coupon code.
A new service called Replyz, still in beta, aims to make it easy for marketers to find relevant questions that Twitter users are asking. With Replyz, a company doesn’t have to think of the exact questions that people might be asking.
My question is who at the brand or at the agency is charged with this responsibility? I know brands and agencies are looking to hire community managers, so that’s one answer. But the opportunity seems larger than that to me.
I think the entire communications enterprise needs to ramp up on these new tools so everyone’s speaking a common language when evaluating social ideas. In other words, having a presence on Facebook or Twitter is not an idea, it’s a tactic. What does the brand hope to achieve, and how do they plan to achieve it, are the questions that need answering.
If the answer is we want to increase sampling, then the Domino’s scenario above might be a good way to go about it. I’m just noting the hands-on, one-to-one nature of the communications effort, which is something not many agencies, or brands, are adequately prepared for.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.