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Twitter central to Avaya's marketing strategy

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Avaya Inc. has seen social media, particularly Twitter, become an increasingly important part of its marketing in the past year. The business communications solutions company has used Twitter for everything from developing internal communication to closing sales. Jay Barta, senior corporate communications manager at Avaya, said the company's Twitter strategy is evolving into more than simply an important complement to other efforts. “It's there not only to communicate and disseminate information from the company,” he said. “It also creates a forum for getting feedback from customers and defining our messages to the audience, which carries over to our sales team.” The company has more than 7,000 followers and boasts more than 1,600 tweets. The difference between now and the recent past is clear to Barta. “Going back a year or two ago, we weren't doing that. There wasn't an open, direct line,” he said. Now, the impact is seen internally through interactions between the sales and marketing teams as well as with clients. Barta said the link between those teams has grown stronger as a common interest in social media, along with the advance in communication, helps internal teams interact. It did not take long for Avaya to take the Twitter effort companywide and to build its “Twitter Army.” The army is made up of about 200 employees who have expressed interest in social media. Barta said their regular meetings help build bonds across the company and foster better communication. Since members are found in so many divisions, they are also able to watch for issues the regular marketing staff might miss: like the competition. That commitment to using Twitter helped Avaya close a $250,000 sale. When a member of its Twitter Army picked up a tweet debating whether to use Avaya or a competitor, the lead was taken to the right place and ended up in a sales meeting. While Barta said that was a relatively rare opportunity, he said such practices are becoming more common. Barta said the company even plans to use Twitter in the launch of a new service product planned for July. “The suite of services will be able to track social media and respond in a call center structure,” Barta said. “For example, a company can flag a tweet to their customer service center.” From there, the team can deal with the inquiry or complaint. Social media is having an impact across the entire company, as major trade shows and event launches are flooded with tweets. While Avaya has only started to create metrics in the past six months, Barta said the benefits both externally and internally are real—and they've got at least a $250,000 sale to show for it.
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