No discussion of social media would be complete this year without mention of Twitter, the group text-messaging phenomenon that has taken the b-to-b world by storm. Marketers have learned that Twitter is a fast way to disseminate a message to thousands of followers and others who bestow the coveted “retweet.” Estimated membership grew an eye-popping 1,400% in the year ended in February, according to Nielsen Co.
Social media blogger Paul Dunay assembled a list of more than 400 brands with Twitter outposts last December, and the roster grows daily. Twitter's 140-character limitation is actually liberating—people tweet messages that they would never blog—and its continual stream of link-laden chatter is like a human-powered newswire.
It's also an easy way to drive traffic. B-to-b marketer Pat McGrew at Eastman Kodak Co. averages about 10 tweets a day, using the service as an adjunct to her blog that helps commercial printers and IT managers “wring every last ounce of value from their communication spend.” Private micro-blogging services such as Yammer have sprung up to provide private messaging to teams of employees, and more than 100 Twitter-related Web sites do everything from monitor brand mentions to find out if followers know each other.
Having just absorbed five years of technology change, b-to-b marketers are ready to put social media to the test. The recession offers a respite to evaluate new tools and figure out what the rightful place is for social media in post-recessionary budgets.