Five examples of innovation with Twitter

Credible case studies or examples of how people in organizations successfully use social communication channels like Twitter to connect and engage with customers are gold dust to anyone looking to make a case in their own organization.

We know how Dell can make money out of Twitter – $6.5 million so far, they say. It’s a terrific case study. Yet such an achievement can not only seem out of reach for many organizations, but also not necessarily reflecting their goals which may not be about making money directly from their Twitter activity.

So it’s great when some details appear of what a handful of well-known international companies are doing and getting out of their use of Twitter.

Examples from Franchises Go Social, a feature in the January edition of the American Entrepreneur magazine:

  • Subway: Subway’s Twitter presence, @subwayfreshbuzz, attracted more than 6,000 followers in less than six months. The sandwich shop franchise uses Twitter to interact with Subway fans two ways: sending out product and promotional news and monitoring Twitter for buzz about its brand.
  • McDonald’s: McDonald’s operates two main Twitter handles. @McDonalds, which has more than 4,700 followers, is used for brand news and information as well as customer service. (Internal research shows that the company is mentioned every 10 to 20 seconds on Twitter.) @McCafeYourDay promotes the company’s line of specialty coffees.
  • 7-Eleven: Convenience-store giant 7-Eleven launched its first Twitter campaign at @7eleven in September, when it created an online game to promote its Brazilian Bold coffee to 18- to 34-year-olds. A few weeks in, the game has scored about 100 followers and counting, but it has also generated a wave of buzz online and will be followed by more promotions.
  • H&R Block: H&R Block uses @HRBlock, launched in November 2007, as a customer-care and question-and-answer tool more than a marketing vehicle. Although the company posts info about tax law changes or company news, it more frequently answers tax questions, solves log-in issues and helps connect its more than 3,600 followers with the expertise they need to get their taxes filed.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts: In a little more than a year, @DunkinDonuts scored more than 38,000 followers by creating a place where people can share their Dunkin’ Donuts experiences. The company focuses on creating a place where people can talk about how much they love Dunkin’ Donuts products.

(Via Janet Meiners Thaeler via Rodney Rumford)

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Peter

    Great post Neville, but also don’t forget to leave out the small guys. There have been some fantastic new businesses launched that are also using the social media platform in innovative ways.

    Projects like TwitJobs http://twitter.com/twitjobsuk & StockTweets – http://twitter.com/stocktwits – That did’nt have the funding of a major corporate to get into social media, but once they did, they were able to make an impact – and make a difference to an otherwise slightly stagnant industry.

    Especially when jobs and money were so important in 2009, and continue to be so in 2010 (and beyond) – but lets take a little time out to congratulate the innovation for the people that did it on their own, without the backing of major world known brands.

      • Peter

        Yes, well I think social media campaigns can be successful on different levels. On the one hand a good campaign can involve innovative thinking, but with ‘starbucks’ for instance, they have a massive reach already.

        The true innovators (for me anyway) are the ones that have created a presence, campaign, whatever you want to call it from scratch. Maybe just a few people appreciating it along the way, and their innovation, will and determination made it work.

        Its a great posting that certainly does through up lots of alternative debate around it too – thanks Neville.

  2. Joe Pritchard

    Interesting and informative post, but can we really call these Twitter aplications innovative?

    They seem to use Twitter for what twitter is good at – engaging in conversations with actual or potential customers. It’s promotional mailing / advertising by other means.

    • neville

      Joe, as the examples Entrepreneur magazine describes are still not commonplace, I think what these companies are doing is innovative.

      It fits well with at least one dictionary definition of the word ‘innovative’:

      using or showing new methods, ideas, etc

      Good enough.

  3. Ryan

    Although there’s a difference in scale we can learn from these giants.

    The habit of engaging your followers improves your business. Customers want to be heard.

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