To tell you the truth, I am not really sure where this is all headed. But one thing is for sure, this is a growing trend and phenomenon that cannot be missed. Why are so many people following these pesky little tweets? Take a look at Zappos with 44,000 followers, Starbucks with 38,000 followers, or Whole Foods with 30,000 followers. What’s up with that?

What are these retailers tweeting about? What do they hope to accomplish? Let’s see what some of them are saying on twitter, right now:

Whole Foods:

  • Major expansion on PB (peanut butter) recall. All products to be re-examined. Previous “okays” may be wrong given new info.
  • Jody Vilecco , our Whole Body Quality Standards Coordinator talks about the Anatomy of a Shampoo
  • @debbiedoesraw We have some raw recipes on our site, but we’d love to have you contribute to our forums.
  • Game Day Recipe of the Day: Vegetarian Chipotle Chili (also gluten-free and easily made vegan)

Starbucks:

  • If you’re in Seattle, check out the Burke Museum’s new exhibit: “Coffee: The World in Your Cup.” on the UW campus
  • Have you pledged 5 hours to your community? type in your zipcode, find volunteer opportuniteshttp://pledge5.starbucks.com/ #pledge
  • We also built a Facebook app for #pledge5 … It makes it easy to find volunteer opportunities and share with your friends

Zappos – (this is actually the CEO, Tony Hsieh himself that is tweeting)

  • SUPER excited Zappos made FORTUNE MAGAZINE’s ”100 Best Companies To Work For” list!
  • You can feel everyone’s energy & excitement here at Inauguration. Over 1 million people estimated here. That’s lot of shoes.
  • Crazy, US Air plane crash was about a mile from my hotel. Makes you think more about life, what really matters, and what to be thankful for.

(see Tony’s recent blog - http://tinyurl.com/dgsh4a - how twitter can make you a happier and better person).

We can see quite a diverse and varied set of tweets in just this very brief example. From helpful food prep tips, to product warnings, to charitable activities, to touching recounts of important events. Don’t you get an immediate sense of the type of companies you are dealing with? In addition they will all respond to any query that you might post for everyone to see, good or bad. Talk about transparency!
Once you enter the world of twitter, you will quickly understand its widespread appeal. It’s interesting, it’s engaging, it’s fast-paced, its informative but most of all its FUN!! (WARNING: its highly addictive!!). As with all of these social media outlets, its about connecting with your customers. If you are thinking that twitter is simply a tool to send out an endless list of promotional messages, your missing the boat. And even if you try that approach, you won’t have any followers. And therein lies the beauty of twitter. It’s not spam, spam won’t even work. Its about providing content that consumers can connect with and choose to follow or not. As with all of this new social media, the power has shifted to the consumer. Post interesting information, green tips, creative specials, or whatever message you want to convey about your corporate culture and values, and people will follow. If they follow you, if they connect with your messages, they will buy into your brand. Remember this is a 2-way channel. Retailers can be searching for what consumers are saying too (see my blog - ‘Are You Listening?‘).

I am going to guess that 30,000 followers is nothing, we will soon see companies with 100’s of 1,000’s of followers, if not millions. And from there you can see the power of twitter. Very cool indeed!

I would love to hear any positive experiences you have had with twitter. Just comment here or tweet me@rickboretsky!