How Twitter Can Drive Your Bottom Line

by Stephen DiMarco

“Yes, I have tweeted.” If you’re a fan of Stephen Colbert, you’ll know that his boastful response to Meredith Viera earlier this month wasn’t phrased exactly that way, but it’s clear that America is tweeting along with him.So, how many people are using Twitter? According to Compete data, 14 million people visited twitter.com in March, a 76% increase from February and a whopping 14 times more than March last year. And this doesn’t count the twitterati who rely on software apps like TweetDeck or Seesmic. The site already attracts more people than Ticketmaster, WSJ and LinkedIn, and the term “Twitter” had more queries than “American idol” and “IRS” across the top search engines last month. Like its social media predecessors, Twitter has captured the attention of consumers — and marketers have to play catch-up once again.

Given this explosive growth, is there any doubt that brands will try to tap Twitter as a marketing tool? But therein lays the challenge: marketers haven’t encountered anything like Twitter before. Despite its large user base, the underlying mechanics of Twitter are really about being atomically small. As a marketer, how can you hope to drive sales or create a branded experience when you’re faced with a 140-character limit and a massively fragmented audience? How do you attract a following? How does it influence your other marketing programs? And how do you know if your efforts are creating ROI?

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