I just watched a Social Media conference online, specifically a session on "How to Grow Your Brand on Twitter," and it has left me feeling even more passionate about the platform and it's commercial marketing capabilities.  Not to say I was nervous about my previous comments (I have had some backlash from anti-tweeters)but I do feel a lot more confident in knowing I am not the only firm believer in the importance and relevance of Twitter within the area of branding, marketing, and advertising.

The conference focused on a panel of Twitter enthusiasts - a social media consultant forComcast, the man behind the Starbucks twitter account, a venture capitalist, and the social media/branding strategist behind Kogi BBQ, a Korean BBQ taco truck.

The conference starts out with the most basic example of how something like Twitter can affect a commercial business and a brand.  Kogi BBQ, an infamous Korean BBQ taco truck in Los Angeles, has used Twitter from the ground up to build its business.  What started out as a few guys running into a club to sell a few tacos at Midnight has now turned into one of the most sought after franchises in West Hollywood.  Basic operation?  Post where the Taco Truck will be through social networks - let the fans flock.  Let's put it this way, according to brand strategist Mike Presad, if the truck were to post it's location right now, within 30 minutes, there would be a line of at least 50 people waiting to get some food.  Couple this with multiple trucks at multiple times a day, and were talking some serious return on (cheap) investment.

While Kogi BBQ offers an innovative example of how next-gen businesses can capitalize on Twitter, it's some of the other brand perspectives that truly shine a light on the benefits of the platform.  While I won't sit here and quote the findings, I'll give you some notes on what I would consider the most important aspects of the panel.

1.  It's not strength in numbers, it's the strength in the relationships.

2.  The authenticity of a brand is easily accessible on Twitter.

3.  The most positive thing about Twitter is link sharing - driving      people to brand, driving communication, driving consumers to products,      driving traffic through relative, creative content.

4.  Just broadcasting out over and over is no different than print                      distribution.  It's about broadcasting out and receiving back in.

5.  It's not just about the Twitter profile.  It is a means to something larger.      A blog can be a critical mechanism to drive sales.  Use twitter to push          consumers to the blog.

6.  Not everyone is watching all the time.  Rebroadcast important                 information as needed.

7.  ABM - Always be marketing - you never know when someone is            watching.

8.  Differentiate tweeting as a person and tweeting as a brand, and know          the difference between the two.

9.  People follow those who are good information sources.  You want to be      that source!

10. The fundamentals of marketing are still there.  First you must           have a quality product, it's just easier to spread the word from there.
11. It used to be that if you liked something you told 1 person, if you                 disliked something you told 10.  Twitter magnifies that equation by       the thousands.

Here's the deal with Twitter.  It's making or breaking brands.  The most recent example with this is the entertainment industry.  Movie sales are beginning to directly correlate with Twitter buzz.  The hot movies on Twitter are selling, and the ones with negative buzz are taking a beating.  It's more or less word of mouth on steroids - problem is: it's legal.  

No one has to jump on board with Twitter, but I believe that it's a decent trend to at least start to follow.  I'm not a big hunter, but I've got the bird on my radar because I think in the future, more and more people are gonna start shooting.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject of Twitter.  Is it like a parrot - smart and sweet, or more like a bald eagle - on it's way out with a few people (like me) trying to keep it around.  Leave your comments in the replies.  

The video, if you're at all interested, can be seen below:
I'm not going to lie to you.  It's official.  I love Twitter.  Just thinking about this topic gets me excited.  I know I'm going to forget things, but in a rushed attempt to spread the love for my new social network of choice, I will do whatever it takes to convert you.

Every one of my friends has Facebook.  Not a whole lot of them have Twitter.  Let's get things straight off the bat though.  I'm not trying to convert you so I can follow you, creep you, communicate with you, or stalk you, I'm converting you so that you can be exposed to the newest, most innovative form of social media.  I don't claim to be an expert, heck I don't even have a ton of followers, but I do know that I understand the fundamentals of Twitter and the ways in which it can be used as a universal source of media for all of your sports, political, business, entertainment, music, and movie news.

This isn't a post about social media and Twitter in business.  This is about using it at the most basic - To entertain and excite. It's about getting your news delivered directly to you, all day, every day.

A basic introduction for the Twitter-impaired.  You are allowed to use 140 characters or less to communicate "What has your attention."  I know, this sounds a little confusing at first, but those who "get it" are making it pretty darn simple for the newbies to catch on.

Ok so we need an example.  Say you're a sports guy/girl.  Each day you check certain websites to catch up on sports news.  You go to ESPN, Sports Illustrated, STL Today, and MLB.com.  When you visit these websites, you sift through all the information that interests you and find the articles you want to read.  What can Twitter do for you?  It can send these websites to you. Every story they post, editorial they feature, and picture they post can be sent directly to you, leaving you with all the information you need to get your sports fix.  All you gotta do is follow these websites on Twitter.

I'll use an example that's a little more close to home for me.  I love movies.  I have certain movie reviewers that I like to catch up with before I hit the megaplex each weekend.  Roger Ebert, Reelviews, RottenTomatoes, and Pajiba all have Twitter accounts.  I follow each of them.  When they post a movie review or a feature story, they post the link to it on their twitter, and the message is immedietly delivered to me.  When I wake up on Friday mornings, it's usually to about 10 different tweets all containing movie information from my favorite reviewers.

I like to use the analogy that Twitter is basically the best magazine you've never read.  All day, every-day I receive updates through Twitter.  I have different categories just as a magazine has different sections.  I have advertising, which relays all the information I need to know each day about the advertising industry and the different campaigns being worked on.  i have music, with posts from my favorite bands and music sites like Rolling Stone.  I have a friends category that fills me in on what my friends are doing.  Lastly, I have an entertainment column that has all information from celebrities and celebrity news columnists to television and radio stations.  I'm essentially being delivered Rolling Stone, AdWeek, the Business Journal, and People without the wait and without the cost.  It's truly surreal.

What I'm getting at with Twitter is this:  It is the newest form of interactive media that not only allows you to share information on yourself and what your interested in, but also allows information to be delivered directly to you all day, every day and only from sources that interest you.  I think everyone needs to jump on board right now and see what you're missing out on.  In the past it was just a phrase, but in today's world I think it's come true:  The bird truly is the word.
Let me know if you have any questions on how to use Twitter or how to get started.  I promise I'm not steering you in the wrong direction.

Also, see my post on Tweetdeck in the rants/raves section.  It is a must-have application for anyone using Twitter.  Check it out here.

So there's been much debate about Twitter and whether or not it's the new fad or the next step in social networking.  For those of you who don't know, Twitter describes itself as a social network that asks "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less.  Now for your everyday person, Twitter usually consists of a post such as "Laying out by the pool" or "Watching the Cardinals destroy the Pirates", however, companies are finding ways to reach consumers on a whole new level by using Twitter to communicate promotions, news stories, press releases, and brand-driven message to any individual who wants to follow them.  

Pizza Hut has decided to do something that I think is pretty cool.  Wether or not it is worth the money, worth the time, or effective from the companies marketing standpoint is still being determined,  but they have hired what they call a "Twintern" - an intern whose sole job is to communicate brand messages across Twitter and increase interest in the company through the newest form of social media.  What does her job consist of?  Tweeting, growing Pizza Hut's followers list, building interest in the company, planning events to advertise on Twitter, and holding conversations with the brand's loyal followers.  In an interview with ad week, Pizza Hut's Twintern states, "Brands want to be where their consumers are, and where those consumers are having a conversation. You definitely want to be a part of that so you can contribute more. If your consumers are all on Twitter, why wouldn't you join in? That's Pizza Hut's philosophy."

From a marketing standpoint, I like this idea.  Do I think it is a full-time job?  I'm not so sure.  But do I wish more companies would take a leap of faith and enter into these new forms of social media?  Most definitely.   Being a recent college graduate and someone who considers myself deeply immersed in social media and web 2.0, I think these are the challenges and tasks that are generation will be industry leaders in.  For me, it is inspiring to see a company such as Pizza Hut, taking part in these new forms of technology and putting faith in the hands of the younger generation to take the company to the next level.  I know I'll be following along to see where this idea takes them.

In closing, I want to know what you think of the Twintern posistion?  Stupid name, unnecessary expense, or strike of genius?  Leave your comments in the replies.