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Be Twitter-Wise by Lon Safko


Twitter, the 140-character social media phenomenon, has more than 646 million members who collectively generate more than 58 million tweets per day. It is considered one of the three most influential digital marketing platforms on earth. Lon Safko offers some advice on how to use it wisely.


If used in the right ways, Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool. The Follower groups can be quite large, so a well-timed or well-executed message can have global reach. The top three people world-wide with the most Twitter followers are: Katy Perry (@katyperry) sporting 52,675,009, Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) singing out to 51,293,130, and Barack Obama (@BarackObama) presiding over 42,782,502 followers. This list might also represent a social commentary on our perceived hero priorities.


Recently, the New York Police Department (NYPD) launched what was to be a disastrous Twitter campaign in an effort to create an uncensored dialogue and communicate more effectively with their community. With best intentions in mind, they created “My NYPD “ and initiated the hashtag #myNYPD in the hopes of getting people to Tweet and attach images of the NYPD doing nice things for and with the citizens of New York. The effort proved otherwise when citizens of NY began posting image after image of police brutality. As a result, similar hashtags sprang up around the U.S. with #MyLAPD, #MyCPD and #MyAPD.


While I am a strong proponent of “user generated content”, creating such an open ended, uncontrollable Twitter campaign was irresponsible. On a blog or a forum, the conversation can be moderated. On LinkedIn and Facebook, there are some controls on what users can post, and on Pinterest and Instagram, removing photos and comments are a snap. Twitter lacks controls like these; once a tweet has been sent, it can be retweeted an infinite number of times and be sent directly to mobiles worldwide in an instant.


While it’s important to recognise the risks inherent in a tweet’s viral potential, I don’t want to harp on the negatives too much. Let’s look at some brands that have put twitter to great use.


Oreo cookies (@Oreo)

During this year’s Super Bowl, the stadium experienced a massive power failure. While the game was on hold, Oreo cookies scored a surprising touchdown. Kraft fielded a gifted offensive team with amazing foot speed. Within minutes of the blackout, Oreo was already broadcasting its “Dunk In The Dark”, series of tweets and retweets: “Power out?” asked one of the tweets. “No problem, you can dunk in the dark”. The fans rallied with tens of thousands of retweets and original tweets playing off Kraft’s initial message. For those interested in branding and marketing, these Tweets became more important than who actually won the game.



This Calgary, Canada based airline set up a virtual Santa Claus in a small kiosk in a Toronto airport terminal where people were getting ready to fly back to Calgary for the holidays. The passengers got to interact with the video Santa and tell Santa what they would like for Christmas. Once the flight was airborne, volunteers gathered gifts from a local outlet mall and Best Buy. The plane landed in the Calgary International Airport and the passengers went to collect their bags at the baggage carousel. Instead of suitcases coming off the conveyor belt, though, they were greeted with presents from Santa—everything they had told the virtual Santa that they wanted for Christmas, ranging from socks and underwear to big-screen televisions came tumbling onto the conveyor belt. WestJet used Twitter to share the link to this heart-warming video that drove nearly 36 million viewers to the YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk


McDonald’s Canada (@McD_Canada)

McDonald’s Canada’s goal was to leverage their existing Twitter Followers to increase the number of new followers to their @McD_Canada’s address using specified keywords and hashtags.  They found that by using diverse set of keywords and hashtags, the company began to reach viewers in many different demographics and with many different interests. With only a budget of $15,000 USD, McDonald’s Canada saw an increase of more than 9,500 new Followers, resulted in more than 14,000 profile views throughout that campaign. Twitter paid advertising includes promoted tweets, trends and accounts. McDonald’s Canada tested different keywords and bids to identify the greatest number of new followers.  https://twitter.com/McD_Canada


Domino’s Pizza (@Dominos_UK)

Domino’s Pizza in the United Kingdom launched a Twitter campaign targeting the lunch crowd called “Knock Down the Price of Pizza” campaign. Domino’s used the hashtag #letsdolunch, asking followers to tweet using that hashtag. Every time someone tweeted that hashtag, Domino’s reduced the price of their most popular pizza, the large Pepperoni by £0.01 driving the cost for that pizza from £15.99 down to £7.74. This clever campaign increased sales during lunch, increased brand awareness, and brand engagement.


Top 20 Tips to Using Twitter The Right Way


  1. Avoid using too many #hashtags, which make Tweets confusing.
  2. Avoid making your Tweets too long so people have to delete characters to retweet.
  3. Don’t post to the wrong account if you own multiple accounts.
  4. Use different posting tools for different accounts.
  5. Never ever sell from a Tweet. You’ll get “flamed”.
  6. Set up free twitter analytics such as twitter, HootSuite, and SproutSocial.
  7. Use your analytics such as geographic area, peak hours, and influencers.
  8. Size doesn’t matter, good content does. Good content gets retweeted.
  9. Use current events and holidays to your advantage.
  10. Create a conversation with your followers at all live events using #Hashtags.
  11. Interact with your followers in real time. People expect fast responses.
  12. Be authentic and sincere or your customers will see right through you.
  13. Listen! Be there to encourage good conversations and diffuse negative ones.
  14. Use all of your other social media networks to drive followers to your twitter account.
  15. Use twitter to drive “likes” and “links” on all of your other social networks.
  16. If you are geo-targeted (do business within a small geographic area), discover a local need.
  17. Bring a human side to your brand. People buy from people, not brands.
  18. Determine the exact right time to target your specific audience.
  19. Offer incentives to purchase.
  20. Whenever possible, use celebrity endorsements.

Los Safko

Lon Safko is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and is the creator oft he “First Computer To Save A Human Life” as coined by Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc. That computer, along with 18 other inventions and more than 30,000 of Lon‘s papers, are in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. This alone is a testimony to Lon’s creativity. Lon is the host of the world’s first PBS Television Special “Social Media&You… Communicating In A Digital World”. Lon has gone on to create numerous hardware and software solutions for the physically challenged, developed the first CAD software for civil engineers, designed the archetypes for the Apple Newton & Microsoft’s Bob Operating Systems, and is also responsible for those handy little Tool-Tips help-balloon pop-ups! Lon has founded over 14 successful companies, including Paper Models, Inc., which developed Three-Dimensional Internet Advertising and Virtual-Electronic-Retailing “V-E-Tailing” for busi­ness, promotions, and education for, which Lon holds three Unit­ed States Patents. Lon has been recognized for his creativity with such prestigious awards as; The Westinghouse Entrepreneur of the Year, Arizona Innovation Network’s Innovator of the Year, The Arizona Soft­ware Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year, twice nominated for the Ernst & Young / Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, The Public Relations Society of America’s, Edward Bernays, Mark of Excellence Award, and nominated as a Fellow to the nation‘s Computer History Museum. Lon has also been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, PC Novice, INC. Magazine, CFO, Pop­ular Science Magazines and the New York Times just to name a few. Lon was even selected by the Smithsonian Institution to rep­resent “The American Inventor” at their annual conference, and is now part of the Guinness World Records! Lon is an author of remarkable breadth, writing nine innovative bestselling books, which have helped guide corporations in mas­tering social media marketing, integrating traditional, digital, and social media marketing. Lon trains executives to think creatively, uncovering the secrets of increasing customers, sales and reve­nue. Lon’s bestselling book published by John Wiley & Sons “The Social Media Bible,” unlocks the mysteries of the hottest new Internet wave, Social Media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for business. This book is transforming corporate, government, and non-profit marketing strategies and how they use these new media to reach their desired audienc­es with powerful messages and efficiency. His book hit #1 on Amazon in both Business & Marketing categories, is in it’s Third Edition and five languages. Lon is also a profes­sional blogger for Fast Company, appointed the first Ambassador to SCORE, and is an USAToday CEO Advi­sor. Lon’s newest bestseller, The Fusion Marketing Bible, pub­lished by McGraw Hill will truly change the way we do marketing and sales by looking at marketing in a com­pletely different way; 3D! Along with Lon’s other inventions, The Safko Wheel Marketing Toolkit, concept will leverage your existing marketing to make it significantly more effec­tive, while adding to your company’s bottom line without any additional expense! Lon privately coaches companies on harnessing innova­tive thinking and social media strategies to create higher productivity and profits. Lon’s presentations are personal­ized to help corporate, government, higher ed, and non­profit executives improve their operations and perfor­mance by capturing their innovative potential. As Lon says, “When you see your world with a different perspective, you see new way to do everything… Lon Safko sees the world in a new way, every day!

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