This friend of mine -- we'll call him Luke -- told an interesting story recently.
He was considering hiring a lawn care service, and his eye was on a particular company. Then a competitor offered a deal that gave him $10 off each of his first five applications. Luke was now also considering the competitor.
My friend is actually a complete stranger who "told" this story on Twitter. In one 140-character tweet, Luke wrote how he had mentioned the first company in a previous tweet, and shared how the previously unknown competitor -- having read this tweet -- subsequently targeted him with the offer of $10 off.
Luke shows how consumers are using Twitter with brand mentions and how those brands can best use the platform to target prospective customers.
Clearly, whoever is running the Twitter account at the lawn care business is keeping up with competitor mentions. By tweeting those talking about their competitor, it gets their brand name into the consciousness of prospects likely very close to the point of purchase.
That's smart marketing and just one effective way brands can leverage Twitter.
Twitter started in 2006. As use increased, naysayers wondered why anyone would be interested in reading a 140-character account of what someone ate for lunch. That type of narcissism exists, but from a business perspective, there is a goldmine of potential.
In a world of a decreasing attention span, Twitter allows users to scroll through the noise. If a message doesn't resonate, the reader is on to the next tweet in seconds.
If you use Twitter for marketing, keep these strategies in mind as you set out your plan.
Keep personal and brand accounts separate: If you have a personal account and one for your brand profile, ensure the content is different or your followers may begin to tune one or both out. It's okay to retweet your brand content from your personal profile, though.
Know the hashtag: Used for searches and trending topics, hashtags are a great way to get your message seen. But before you use a hashtag, make sure you understand how it's actually being used to understand if it matches your mission.
Don't exclusively trust automation: Many businesses and individuals use automation enablers such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule tweets. But don't schedule and forget about it. What might seem like an innocent tweet at the time can become inflammatory or insensitive depending on events occurring in the moment that are often out of your control.
Not all trends should be joined: Putting your own spin on a trend in pop culture can backfire if your message isn't easily understood in a tweet. Don't try to spin negative trends into a "clever" pitch. It likely will backfire.
When in doubt, leave it out: That goes for all tweets, hashtags and really anything on social media. Trust your better judgment.
Find more advice at www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).