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Monetizing Fun, Part Two: How Twitter Does It

Thursday, Nov 18, 2010, 2:24 PM

The beauty of Twitter is its (arguably) simple, rarely-changing format and purpose. As its user base grows, and as businesses begin to catch on to the growing necessity of marketing through Social Media, Twitter stays the same, adding only the most minuscule tweaks of improvement from time to time. Twitter’s admirable resistance to change (imagined mostly in the form of blatant advertising) has also, consequentially, dictated Twitter’s challenge in monetizing itself.

Fortunately, you can still reap the financial potential of such an enterprise. It’s called Sponsored Tweets. Some feel it’s going to save Twitter, some that it will cause its downfall.

On Sponsored Tweets, advertisers can create campaigns and then hand-select and invite Twitter users they want to participate. In other words, they can present any Twitter user with lots of followers (most of the time, this means a celebrity) with the opportunity to, simply, tweet about a product. Alternatively, Twitter users can also preemptively set their pay rate, then search for campaigns they would want to support by tweeting, then get paid per tweet and/or click.

Critical mass is the key here. If you and your brand haven’t necessarily accomplished gaining thousands of followers, take advantage of a Twitter user who does have thousands of followers (perhaps even millions). Or, you can explore tweeting collaborations with different companies, which might prove lucrative. Here, for example, Women’s Wear Daily (who boasts over 1.5 million followers) has obviously been recruited by W Hotels (who have separate Twitter accounts for each hotel location, and thus, no critical mass to tweet to) to tweet about an upcoming project, from which a collaboration has also arisen.

This is tricky business. Firstly, we recommend that you read Jennifer Van Grove’s full, critical guide to Sponsored Tweets on Mashable. But the big question also becomes: who do you entrust with this responsibility? William Martin-Genier, fashion editor of LURVE Magazine, recently weighed in on the subject in a guest article for Fashionably Marketing, “Who Should Handle Your Twitter Account?

Martin-Genier points out that Twitter accounts for Diane von Furstenburg and the late Alexander McQueen were run by the designers themselves, due to their celebrity presence in the media. It’s clear that followers would have been more interested in the icons themselves then in particularly useful or strategic tweets. And this, in and of itself, was the brand’s strategy for gaining the most followers–successful in both instances. Additionally, as Martin-Genier aptly states, “getting a reply directly from the ‘famous’ creative masthead is a strong experience for the user.”

Other brands enlist their PR person to tweet, namely: Oscar De La Renta, DKNY, Kenzo and Marc Jacobs (via Robert Duffy). Brands should take this approach if they’re hoping to inspire their followers to use Twitter as a customer service tool. Users certainly get the feeling a PR person is more approachable and communicable (and for good reason!) then the designer himself. The downside? Users get an unflinchingly cheery, never critical image of the label. And Twitter users like transparency.

Our suggestion? Let multiple people in the company tweet for the brand, but avoid announcing who is tweeting what. This way, followers get well-rounded, diverse content offered up with great frequency. Just make sure all those people are tech-savvy and fluent in Twitter Terminology. Twitter is, first and foremost, a technology and communication tool, so it’s important to find someone who is literate in both. And quite succinct in nature.

Samantha Garfield | TribaSpace

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