January 02, 2010

How To Let Twitter Be Your Brand's Resume With Widgets

As more companies, marketers and PR reps wake up to the world of Twitter, the art of discovering what is being said about businesses and their products is hardly a dark art at this point. Most have figured out the basics of tracking customer responses, or individuals are able to set vanity queries to get alerted each time they or their works are mentioned in Twitter streams. But so far, this data has only flowed one way. With the use of Twitter's free widgets, and some creativity, you can let Twitter users' updates speak on behalf of you and your company.

Twitter has what they call a "Goodies' page, which includes code for customized widgets, which can be placed on your Web site and blog, or social networks, like Facebook and MySpace.

The four widgets offered today include a profile widget, which displays your own updates, a search widget, which can track any keywords or hashtags you enter, a faves widget to show off those tweets that are your favorites, or a list widget, which presents outwardly lists that you have created.

Of these, the search widget and the faves widget have the most potential for your business.

The first, a search widget, can be set up to query for your brand or its products. Pretty straight forward. You can see an example below, enabled for Apple or iPhone:

The same script for SocialToo, where I am an advisor:

The above search widget grabs all activity on Twitter that mentions these products. It is great for showing volume, but it has no filter for what is a positive mention or a negative mention, and could include spam.

A better way to create a solid representation of you, your brand or your products, is to use the Faves widget. While some people are using Twitter favorites the same way that I use Google Reader shares, to capture top news as it flows in, others, including me, are using it to track positive mentions. In theory, as you amass significant favorites this way, this faves widget can be presented as unsolicited endorsements of you and your company online.

Take a look:

The above widget, which I have embedded on my About LouisGray.com page, gives a list of recent updates on Twitter that have presented me or my content in a positive light. All it takes is a combination of using the typical vanity searches, monitoring @replies, and favoriting the best of that list.

The process is easy:
1. Search for the desired terms on Twitter. (like this)
2. Mark those you like as favorites.
3. Go to the Twitter Goodies Widget Page.
4. Choose the Faves Widget.
5. Customize the title, appearance and dimensions.
6. Add to your site!

If you don't want to have your individual account (or your corporate account) using Twitter in this way, there is always the option to add a second account just for favorites. For example, you could make an account called "fordfaves" that favorites the top mentions of Ford and its cars on Twitter, and then show that widget on the press mentions page of the Web site.

As I have often said, Twitter is what you make of it. It can be a tool for conversation, or for broadcasting. It can be a tool to talk with friends, or to communicate with brands. But no matter how you use Twitter, a ton of information is being poured into the site, and it's up to you how you can extract value.