Expertise On Demand
9 May 2007, 11:59PM PT
19 Apr 2007, 12:00AM PT
Closed: 9 May 2007, 11:59PM PT
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In the last few months, the online service Twitter has taken off. There's some debate if this is something really important, or merely a fad. Without necessarily rehashing that debate, discuss how a consumer packaged goods company might make use of Twitter (or similar tools) in innovative ways.
For context, in the early days of the web, plenty of traditional companies ignored the web and later blogs as passing fads, only to realize much later that they could have benefited from embracing such trends early on. As a consumer packaged goods company, we're trying to understand whether Twitter faces the same curve and if it makes sense to make use of it now, and if so, how could it be useful (if at all).
Making Twitter Useful by Chris Saad
Saturday, April 21st, 2007 @ 6:19PM
Think of Twitter like rapid blogging.
Blogging (particularly blog posts that inspire each other and begin to cross link) are often referred to as a conversation. If Blogging is a slow, deliberate and in depth conversation, then Twitter is a rapid fire, casual conversation.
When conversations happen - particularly ones that can be observed and documented for later consumption such as Blogging and Twitter - a number of things occur.
1. People are better informed and therefore the friction for mutual understanding is reduced
2. With better mutual understanding moral and productivity may increase
3. Conversations are prone to go off topic causing a decrease in productivity
4. The public nature of the conversation has an impact on PR. Therefore the conversation should have a purpose.
As a Consumer Packaged Company, the benefit for allowing staff to engage in that sort of public discussion for the purpose of internal collaboration is probably not ideal.
The company should, however, track the conversation using tools like TwitterSearch and Twitterment in order to ensure that they respond when their brand and products are mentioned just like they would for Blog posts that do the same.
Like blog posts, these conversations give the company an invaluable level of insight into the marketplace and can help them to detect patterns or problems early. Many times, an issue or an idea will appear on Twitter before someone blogs about it and before it becomes a high profile notion.
Making Twitter Useful by Rajesh Lalwani
Saturday, April 21st, 2007 @ 11:17PM
Hi - new concepts like Twitter will go through experiments before they reach maturity as marketing tools and marketers are beginning to try their hand at it. For e.g. there are opt in mash-ups of Twitter that are preparing lists of consumers who would be willing to receive marketing messages by choice. Day before yesterday I discovered, and wrote about, BBC announcing its programmes on Twitter (see this: http://www.blogworks.in/blog/social_media/twitter_trick_by_bbc.php)
Marketers can for now experiment by making call for action announcements on promotions/ offers; inviting users to visit their websites/ blogs for surveys/ research etc.
Am sure we will discover many more as we go along- the trick would be in adding value to the user and not bombard her with marketing messages.
Making Twitter Useful by Rajesh Lalwani
Sunday, April 22nd, 2007 @ 2:02AM
Also, trend spotters and early adopters shouldn't mistake Twitter to be a 'casual' tool. Ramifications of casual use can be huge. Sample this:
Steve Rubel is one of the most read marketing and public relations blogger. He also works with Edelman PR at a very senior position. A casual comment on Twitter (perhaps quoted by detractors out of context) about how his free subscription of the PC Magazine goes into the bin, became a huge controversy with:
" Should I instruct the staff to avoid covering Edelman's clients? Ignore their requests for meetings, reviews and news stories? Blacklist the "Edelman.com" email domain in our exchange servers, effectively turning their requests into spam? If we're not relevant to Edelman's employees, then how could we be relevant to their clients?
I did a quick search through my recent email, and found that over the past few weeks Edelman staff pitched me about news and new products from Palm, MarkMonitor, Mozilla/Firefox, Microsoft (hardware and Xbox), Eyespot.com, Vulcan Flipstart and Dash Navigation. Heck, they even pitched me yesterday on the release of Adobe's new Creative Suite 3, which has to be relevant to at least some of the 11 million folks we reach across our magazine, web and video properties each month. And then I realized that this was probably just the callous act of a rogue Edelman exec, and it didn't necessarily reflect the views of the rest of the company. Still, it made me wonder. And in the future, if I'm on the fence, I'll probably be somewhat less inclined to take a meeting with one of Edelman's clients."
"Dear Mr. Louderback,
Last Friday, yes Friday the 13th, I put up a post on Twitter that I wish I hadn’t. I said that I don’t read the hard copy of PC Magazine and that my free subscription goes in the trash. In a guest editorial on Strumpette you weighed whether the magazine in response should blacklist all PR pitches from Edelman, my employer, on behalf of our tech clients.
I learned a valuable lesson. Post too fast without providing context and it can elicit an unintended response..."
So trouble's over? I don't think so, not so quickly at least and this can happen to any of us.
Making Twitter Useful by Edward Costello
Sunday, April 22nd, 2007 @ 8:11AM
I think that twitter is currently a fad, but that does not rule it out as a potential platform to build upon. One of the biggest, though subtle, shifts from Web v1 to Web v2 is the change from requiring consumers to navigate to web sites to retrieve information to allowing consumers to "sign up" for information feeds (RSS/Atom, better newsletters, I/M notifications, etc). In the old days we sought to draw consumers to our sites and lock them in, now we provide various sources of information directly to consumers and indirectly via APIs which other sites can use to get consumers to do the only real thing we care about: buy a product, complete a transaction, had over a bit of attention data.
I think that twitter provides a platform for a sort of personal message queuing services. While we think of it as answering "What are you doing right now?", if I know what you're doing right now, or where (RIP dodgeball), or when, and you've opted-in to whatever service I provide, I can respond to your status with offers, coupons, information, etc.
A consumer packaged goods could use twitter to broadcast sales, coupons, new products. Use it as a way of pushing out notifications of interest to your core consumer demographic. Unlike an email blast, twitter is near-instantaneous notification, your correspondents can (potentially) receive notification via their I/M client, their cell phone, and likely new methods as the platform is built upon. Unlike an email blast, you don't need to worry about losing a certain percentage of email to spam filters and broken relays.
You could use twitter to solicit immediate feedback on a new site, new campaign.
Use twitter to tighten the feedback loop for your marketing offerings, getting interested consumers to respond via survey or whatever other means you have to collect data.
People who sign up for notifications from twitter are expressing interest in the person or thing sending out the notifications. That alone is an interesting data point. Further, it is impractical to sign up to too many twitterers, you will get too much information and the value will drop off.
So if you've retained someone's interest enough that they do not drop off your twitter stream, you've got their attention, they <em>want</em> to know what you're saying, offering. Leverage that to your advantage.
Making Twitter Useful by Alan Weinkrantz
Monday, April 23rd, 2007 @ 12:47PM
Making Twitter Useful by Osama A. Hashmi
Monday, April 23rd, 2007 @ 12:59PM
Since the questions asks whether Twitter is a curve, I will take this time to explore options of what Twitter could perhaps become, rather than simply analyzing what it is. The short answer would be that while Twitter might be marginally beneficial to the packaged goods vendor depending on their size and level of IT support, I dont see any place where it could achieve business results.
Now, there are two main areas of the CPG company business we can analyze -- outwards and inwards facing.
In the outwards facing side, the question is whether Twitter can play a role in marketing and sales activities.
Straight off the bat Twitter has valuable free market research -- for CPG vendors in particular -- simply because people are more likely to mention a commoditized good they use on Twitter than, say, on blogs. Few people write what they are having for dinner on a blog. What vendors may have to do to get this research on a large scale is create a system to gather all twitter messages and parse them (a massive Twitter Search system).
Now, on marketing itself, recently in the CPG industry coupons are on the rise in the domestic US market, and a number of companies are trying to tap into citizen marketers ("Edge-centric marketing" as I would refer to it) -- getting their customers to speak about the product itself.
Here, the twitter community could be influencers in pushing a CPG brand. Lets take a brief look at Twitter and blogs first.
Blogs caught the attention of the marketing community because small vendors could get massive publicity at next to no cost for being highlighted in a blog post. Bloggers themselves were influences of the micro-communities they served.
Twitter adds one more interesting addition: The sense of time. Like Instant Messaging, the pauses between two twitter messages can create a sense of anticipation among the audience, provided that the audience follows it like theatre.
Now, specifically for CPG, blogs may not be as useful in introducing a new brand as twitter, simply because through Twitter a consumer can provide the live minute-by-minute emotional recall of the first time experience with a product. This will have a greater influence on the audience than a blog, and hence more people are likely to be influenced by seeing the lead person fall in love with a new product live.
This isn't a completely rosy picture, however. You could get market research out of twitter, but you would have to create a customized overlay software that parses all of that data from different feeds. The actual value of that data VS the cost of implementing this will depend greatly on the type of consumer good, how the Twitter community expands (and if it does), and how the platform evolves from a technical standpoint (i.e. how easy integration will be).
In addition to this, as blogs have also proven in the past, giving your product directly to a consumer also bears the risk of negative publicity if that person infact does not like your product. For this, the first thing required before deciding to undertake a consumer-marketing strategy is to gain unanimous buy-in from the top-level leadership of your company.
Finally, each particular good may have different entry points for marketers. Twitter may end up being more useful for packaged goods or perfumes, or other such items where consumers associate a "first touch moment" with the product. For other goods blogs might work better, or direct mail-in coupons.
Here the question is: Can Twitter be used to make our operations more efficient? Let's just a look at how or where the technology fits, and then analyze whether or not it is valuable.
Twitter could play a part in the supply side for the CPG vendor as follows: The suppliers and the CPG company share a common Twitter feed and each can instantly notify the other of changes or updates to orders / shipments.
Twitter could be a part of the assembly and packaging process -- all people at certain nodes in the supply lines could send a continuous set of "micro-updates" about progress, such as "Received Shipment, Parsing parts". These could be aggregated and put up on a screen. This "continuous flow" of information could be used to create efficient operational models.
Finally Twitter could be part of the demand side to implement VMI with the retailers. If an item is scanned at a POS, the POS could send a Twitter message notifying the vendors or peer-stores, which could then be used by the stock replenishment scheme.
No matter which of these options is considered, Twitter is not the key technology that enables such a solution. Rather, any comprehensive PLM or VMI solution based on a real-time communication technology can achieve the same results.
In fact, with Twitter the time taken to enter text on cellphones is prohibitively expensive. If you thought of using Twitter for fleet or shipment monitoring, you may be much better off with a Push-To-Talk based solution.
I do believe that more efficient supply-chain management models will emerge as a result of all parties processing a "live stream of information", rather than compiling and sending information as a package -- nervousness would still be avoided where it needs to be (e.g. in demand planning), but other places might still benefit from live data (e.g. flow lines, or package rerouting in warehouses.)
However, I think when those models become best practice, any technologies such as IM, Jabber, VoIP-Simple, XML or others could be used to achieve the same results, at lower costs.
The only additional feature that Twitter provides is the ability to exchange real-time information across organization and system boundaries at a low cost. While this might attract really small players, I think all CPG vendors participating in high volume business are better off using XML + SOAP to achieve the same results, even if it may be more expensive in the short term.
It might be useful to study and consider having Twitter members market your CPG Products.
However, none of the usage options we discussed are things that will drive business results such as increased market share, better customer relationship, more supply stability etc.
As such, I do not see that Twitter having a big impact on CPG companies at the moment.
Making Twitter Useful by Osama A. Hashmi
Tuesday, April 24th, 2007 @ 11:48AM
As an addendum, I would only strictly recommend the "marketing over Twitter" to limited by scope only to sending free samples of your product to people who have twitter channels.
If marketers themselves enter into this channels I predict this will become a massive burden on twitter users. In essence, receiving short marketing ads no matter where you go that interrupt you can easily just become another form of spam or telemarketing, and this creates an incentive for consuemrs to switch that service off / install spam filters etc.
The other approach to avoid would be the one Sony took with the "All I want for christmas... " campaign and a number of others -- these campaigns disguise themselves as an actual person experiencing something to draw peope in, but the backlash on the brand is huge when the community finds out its all staged.
The right approach to marketing -- if there is one that is justified -- would involve true citizen marketing, i.e. let your consumers be honest about your product, and engage them as your product designers.
As a side note for the media and production industry: If someone created an actual fictional story series over Twitter, that has the potential of becoming a big hit (for the theatrical pause effect I mentioned earlier). Think of that as a fictional story that plays out like reality TV.... you dont know when something could happen to the lead character. Just food for thought.
Making Twitter Useful by Vinaya HS
Friday, April 27th, 2007 @ 1:49AM
Twitter works by encouraging people to answer a simple question: “What are you doing?” All that Twitter needs is a simple text-message (SMS) from a mobile phone – a device which, in today’s world, most people cannot live without. I think Twitter’s aim is to mainstream what I call “instant viral micro-blogging with a dash of emotion” – a phenomenon that should worry most packaged-goods marketers.
As a consumer packaged-goods marketer, I would view Twitter as answering a subtly different question: “What are my customers thinking?”
Let’s picture this scenario:
Frito-Lay launches a new variant of its popular potato chips. A twitter-hooked consumer walks into a retail store, notices the new product, purchases and immediately consumes it. Next thing, he’s hooked. Out goes an SMS to his Twitter account that reads: “Hey! You know what? Lay’s just launched a new flavor and it rocks!” What follows is what I call the LinkedIn effect – you reach out to an exponential number of your consumers through a single consumer! It’s akin to word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. What’s more, if these other consumers have mobile alerts enabled on their Twitter account, think about how they would react if they happened to be near a retail store at that moment.
Just announced a discount on your packaged products? Want to know whether your retail shelf-positioning is really attracting your customers? Do you suspect that your customers think your product sucks? Services like Twitter could get you instant answers. All the marketing research you do as a consumer packaged goods company can’t simulate real life consumer behavior. Twitter could be that live market research tool the consumer packaged goods industry has been praying for.
Having built the case in favor of Twitter, the next question to be answered is: “Is Twitter mature enough to do all this?”
I believe that the answer is no. Sure Twitter is cool. But it is not yet an effective tool to be of use to packaged goods marketers. Specifically, we need to think about factors such as consumer reach and product maturity. On the technology adoption curve, I would place Twitter at the “Innovators” stage. Twitter is building up a solid consumer base, but it will take a year or two to reach critical mass (and when it would be of real use to packaged-goods marketers).
Twitter can be made more useful (specifically to the packaged-goods companies) with these features:
Twitter has some way to go before it could become a tool of interest to consumer packaged goods companies. For now, I would stick with a service such as Technorati.
Making Twitter Useful by Dennis Howlett
Sunday, April 29th, 2007 @ 11:47PM
Technologies like Twitter cannot be looked at in isolation. They have to be part of a coordinated strategy for reaching consumers that embraces the concepts around social media including blogs, FaceBook, MySpace and so on. Taking that as read, an interesting new development by FeedBlitz holds promise. They can distribute via Twitter. If you use the FeedBlitz premium service, they will send your RSS'd posts over to blog subscribers.
That could be useful for things like short pieces on new product introduction, recalls and other news. The main problem though is in figuring out whether Twitter will survive as a long term play. For me, it is more of a feature to something much broader like video over mobile but development on those lines is far from clear right now.
Having said that, nothing can substitute for innovative approaches to marketing. So the old idea that you push messages at people doesn't go away as a discussion point. What will matter is how you engage people in the conversations you need in order to create market buzz.
I'd argue that if you've got a great website that includes blog content AND can get independent persons to not only blog but also Twitter about it, then, with the right connections, you have the potential to create something massively viral.
This won't work on each and every occasion and again, I would argue that something that has impulse appeal would be much more likely to succeed than say washing machines or other large white and brown goods purchases. There is one development that could change the entire Twitter landscape. I'll admit right now I have no knowledge of whether this is on some person's radar but it is the kind of thing I can imagine happening.
If Twitter can be made to be location aware, then it might be possible for the service to selectively deliver messages to people who are at specific locations. You'd need to understand patterns of behavior to achieve value but it is a tantalising prospect for situational marketing.
In the meantime, I see no reason not to experiment. Send out Twitters to selected persons seeking their opinion. Drop questions on your website. Ask the wider community with whom you already connect. They are by far your best judges.
Making Twitter Useful by Erik Smartt
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007 @ 8:56AM
Making Twitter Useful by Joseph Hunkins
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:28AM
Twitter appears to be here to stay based on it's rapid adoption and what looks like a stable, increasing online following.
Early adoption of this type of social media can have huge advantages. Early websites and blogs still tend to benefit from higher search rankings, and early Twitter adopters seem to have an easier time aquiring new friends and "followers". Twitter content has been making it into the search engines, and since this includes many links it it best to assume Twitter content, linked to relevant company info, could carry some SEO advantages for company websites.
How to make use of Twitter in the consumer packaged goods arena? Here are three recommendations that should provide a low cost, experimental approach to Twitter testing:
1) Establish a Twitter account for a marketing employee or intern who shows interest in writing, and has basic familiarity with social media. Name it after the company mascot or logo if possible, always making it clear this is a company attempt to engage with consumers.
Transparency and honesty are critical when commercializing social media. If you have not done it already consider a marketing position for a new hire familiar with social media that would include all social media opportunities like Myspace, Netscape, Digg, Reddit, Flickr. These represent a goldmine of cheap marketing opportunities if handled cleverly.
2) For just a Twitter test you'll only need to allocate about 15 minutes per day to update the twitter twice per day, but a social media position is a better idea
3) It's hard to advise on content without knowing the product, but probably the content should initially be mostly non-commercial except in answer to questions. e.g. post insights about the company's city and general ideas about the product to see if you can draw in questions or Twitter friends and Followers. One approach would simply be to state that the company is testing if this is a reasonable way to keep in touch with customers and share / collect ideas.
Making Twitter Useful by Andrew Dubber
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:42AM
Twitter is an online communication platform that leverages SMS (text messaging) as one of its key interface technologies. As such, it has enjoyed rapid takeup because of the high market penetration and proliferation of mobile cellular devices.
It is generally thought of as a method of micro-blogging by phone. However, it is important to realise that Twitter is not simply a mobile phone platform, and that it also integrates Instant Messaging and Web-based entry for 'tweets' (the short messages that Twitter users post.
Moreover, the ways in which Twitter users can be notified when a fellow user posts to the service vary. While it is possible to 'follow' another user with update notifications sent to cellphone, IM or on the web page, that user's Twitter page also generates an RSS feed, enabling others to subscribe to that using any RSS aggregator, including the popular Bloglines and Google Reader services.
It is also possible to embed an RSS feed into any other web page. An example of this can be found at my personal blog where 'What I Am Doing Now' can be found on the top right in the sidebar as an extra, regularly updated piece of information that does not require a more substantial text post. In fact, it is restricted to 140 characters, thereby inscribing the parameters of simplicity and brevity of communication. It can be submitted from my mobile phone wherever I am -- and is updated into the website almost instantaneously.
In order to consider ways in which a CPG organisation might make use of a communication platform such as Twitter, it is not only necessary to understand the ways in which Twitter works, but also the ways in which the CPG organisation is involved in communicative transactions.
A CPG organisation is typically (though hardly exclusively) a medium to large sized business, and any communication that currently takes place within that organisation may be considered as a possible context for the new technological platform.
There are two primary ways in which internal communication transactions take place: vertical and horizontal.
Vertical internal communication refers to the kinds of communications that take place between hierarchical levels within the organisation. An example might be a management memo that is sent to all operations staff. Given the widespread usage of cellphones, it is not difficult to imagine ways in which short directives, words of encouragement, news or business information could be disseminated within the CPG organisation if staff are subscribed as the Twitter 'friends' of a central news or memoranda feed.
Perhaps more importantly, it would be possible for different categories of staff to be subscribed to different feeds. Assembly workers might be signed up for one set of 'tweets' while warehouse staff might receive notifications from another. Moreover, it would be possible to encourage staff to subscribe to a number of feeds that overlap with their interests and responsibilities. A Health and Safety feed might contain important messages for a range of staff, while a new product announcement might impact on a different, but overlapping group.
Remember that notifications need not necessarily be exclusively cellphone-based, but may also appear on a web interface or Instant Messaging platform for computer users within the business.
Horizontal internal communication takes place within a single hierarchical level of the organisation, and as such might include messages among sales representatives, either to coordinate sales activities or to 'report back to base'. Timely information spread within teams can lead to more effective operation, and so teams that Twitter, and get notifications from other team members, wherever they may be, can be more integrated, informed and focused.
It is also easy to imagine a staff social communication platform that include short announcements of upcoming events, staff news ("Jillian in Accounts just got engaged!") and so on. This kind of communication engages staff within the corporate culture and contributes to morale. This is, of course, not only true of CPG companies -- but applies as it does to any other working environment.
There are a range of different stakeholders that intersect with any CPG company, from its suppliers to its customers, and the end users of the product. It is possible to imagine an integration of an instantaneous short message communication platform like Twitter into areas of Supply Chain Management and Customer Relations Management -- as well as research and feedback that might feed into Marketing Automation systems. Timely and relevant information is both useful for the smooth operation of a manufacture and supply chain, and an important strategy in customer relations.
It is also likely that CPG organisations will use communication strategies like Twitter's to provide a platform for its stakeholders to discuss and engage with their product, without the manufacturer's direct intervention. This could most likely be implemented for end users of the product. An analogous context is that of the BBC, who provide a context within which listeners and viewers of its programmes can form communities and discuss the content of those programmes, though at no time do those stakeholders feel they are talking to the BBC in these interactions.
One way that such a user group might be configured is around the discussion of tips for the use of (for example) a cleaning product. Twitter could provide a mobile and instant discussion forum for such topics, and the CPG company can provide the context for that discussion -- thereby able to monitor the conversation of its end users, select content for promotional re-use and respond quickly to negative feedback. User ideas can also be quickly integrated into the R&D process.
Organisational blogs are an increasingly popular and effective marketing and PR tool -- and Twitter is, at its core, a type of micro-blog. Key personnel can discuss product development, new techniques or even personal experience within the organisation, and these can be embedded within the company's site via RSS.
It is also easy to imagine a corporate site for the organisation with profiles of senior staff and sales contact personnel. Those profiles could include a photo, a description of what that person's role entails, details of how to get in touch, and -- through Twitter -- a short message about what they're doing right now.
Ultimately, it is not necessarily Twitter itself that is likely to be of use to CPG organisations, but the implementation of those discrete technologies that have been put together to create that service.
Integration of mobile-to-web SMS services, coupled with RSS feeds are not exclusive technologies to Twitter, and the IT departments of large organisations may wish to implement their own proprietary versions of such technologies. Likewise, large software suppliers to CPG firms, such as Oracle and Siebel Systems may be encouraged to develop Twitter-like tools that are integrated with existing enterprise resource planning, customer relationship, and supply chain management software packages.
Making Twitter Useful by Dan Morrill
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 @ 10:17AM
Making Twitter Useful
There has been a lot of discussion on how to make Twitter an enterprise ready app that does good things within the enterprise for people to communicate. Much of this depends on if Twitter can make and support a Twitter appliance to keep corporate communications secure, and provide the functionality of twitter.
Twitter in many ways is a lot like the side channels that the military used to use to coordinate communications between stations called an “Order Wire”. These old order wires allowed military communication stations to send one or two line messages back and forth so that they could coordinate down time, information, status, issues, and other concerns back and forth without having to resort to a full message, phone call, or other communications method.
Help Desk Samauri here has seen that the system would be great, especially over phne or pager to coordinate the efforts of a help desk system. It would be great if the help desk could coordinate actions using quick one liners and internal codes to give off status of work, where they are, and if additional support will be needed without having to run around the building all day long trying to find people to do things in an already busy day.
IBM Guru – Luis Suarez also sees the same thing in that it will help your already existing social networks become more efficient, or allow for a greater share of information trading without having to stop what you are doing to gain the advantages
I can see applications in marketing and sales, where the remote sales person can be in touch via a controlled twitter appliance to negotiate deals, work with a diverse team geographically dispersed to discuss issues, sales, and deals. For example, if the sales person is in a meeting, and needs to contact someone on a technical question, send it via twitter and have one of the technical folks back home answer the issue. Immediate customer question, immediate response from the company rather than the standard “I’ll get back to you on that”. The uses for coordinating virtual teams and a host of other types of information flow can make twitter the killer app in the enterprise. Rather than a wiki, someone asks the questions, and the whole company who is paying attention to the channel becomes the knowledge base. If the data can be stored, that data goes into the company wiki as company knowledge, people won’t even have to strain themselves to be more knowledgeable about the company.
Twitter could be killer enterprise app, but again, they would have to turn it into an appliance with limitations on access to keep the system inside the company and safe.
Making Twitter Useful by Brent Lamphier
Thursday, May 3rd, 2007 @ 8:11PM
Twitter has taught us a few thing about my generation (gen 'y'). First, it's taught us that the desire for social interaction through technology goes way past online social networking. People are not only willing to tell people what exactly they're doing via cell phone, email, and blog, but they're willing to find out exactly what their friends are doing via the same mediums. Second, it's taught us not to underestimate the interaction of social web circles. It's one thing to add a bunch of rough acquaintances as friends on MySpace and occasionaly check their profiles. It's something quite different to constantly update them on your life at all hours of the day. MySpace is loosely based on permission...you have to request to be someones friend, but you don't have to do anything to see their page. Facebook is somewhat based on permission, where you must be in a network or be added as a friend to see someones page. Twitter is the new standard in social networking permission, where you only get updates on people you want to get updates from, and can control who sees your updates.
So, to make use of this tool for marketing purposes, you must use the standard that it's built upon: permission. The key is to understand what twitter users want, provide it for them, and mix in a ploy for your consumer packaged good in the process. So, if I'm a twitter user, what could I possible want as far as consumer packaged goods go? Give me the option so that, everytime I enter 'going shopping,' or 'going to the grocery store,' or 'man I'm hungry,' I can login to my 'consumer packaged good twitter deals (find a better name)' account and you'll shoot me deals via text message, RSS, via the web, or however else I want to recieve twitter. This would be a new form of couponing where in the text message there's a code, which I could give to/show to/have scanned by a register to recieve a 'buy one get one free hotpockets,' or, even better, something FREE. The best way to get kids to sign onto something is to offer them something really cool for Free. You could even set it up so that only one person a day recieves that really cool thing (and I'm talking REALLY cool...Free Coke for a month cool), but other people are sent other offers. Make sure all are under 140 characters, you have to fit the twitter model.
You also need to give the user all the options they could possibly ever want. They should only recieve two 'consumer packaged good twitter deals' a day if they only want two, or they only recieve them when they type the word 'grocery' into their own twitter box, or anything else they could want. Never break the permission, the community has the power and the community will fight back. Be honest, offer them something for their time, and do it with the same parameters that Twitter already uses. They also should have the option of selecting what type of deals they should recieve. I would love to get deals on golf balls, but send me deals on makeup and you just annoy me. The key with twitter is to 'twitter them' some really cool things that they sign up to recieve on their terms and their time frame. If you open with some great free stuff (no deal is EVER better to a generation Y'er than 'free'), you may have them hooked on your CPG twitter service, and you can start sending some lower deals to get people thinking about buying some more toothpaste or whatnot.
Really cool deals that they sign up for, on their timeframe and on their terms, and consistency in offerings. Sign me up.