Using Twitter to Build Brand Equity

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman of Twitter, Inc., said that the definition of Twitter was “a short burst of inconsequential information,” and “chirps from birds,” which was exactly what Twitter was. But instead of just chirping, the micro-blogging social network service has become one of the biggest buzzes in 2009, capturing countless media headlines and stirring up conversations worldwide.

Apart from Twitter, the economy is also a main topic this year. While companies find their customers are spending much less money during the economic downturn, they turn to Twitter to help build their brands, promote their products or services, and keep in touch with both loyal and potential customers.

So how do companies use Twitter to build their brands? To answer that, let us first learn some facts about Twitter.

Twitter, founded in 2006, is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as “tweets”. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers, known as “followers”. The three-year-old Twitter, whose popularity is still proliferating as we speak, is already the third most popular social networking site in the world behind Facebook and Myspace.

Twitter is different from other social networking services because users do not need to send requests and get approved before they can follow others. A simple click is enough for a Twitterer to follow or unfollow any other Twitter users, who may be a celebrity, a politician, a company or an individual. Not only can users send private Direct Messages (DM) to a follower, they can also send public replies to whomever they want in the Twitter-verse. Because Twitter is text-based in nature, users must post pictures or videos through URL links, which enables Twitter’s interface to stay simple and clean. Even though Twitter does not and will not put any advertisement on its website, it is still a free service, which means businesses do not need to pay a dime to promote themselves and communicate with tens of millions of potential customers. Steph Korey

Labbrand believes that brand equity includes brand strength and brand stature. While brand strength is determined by brand differentiation and brand relevance, brand stature is determined by brand esteem and brand knowledge. Twitter can help a brand build up these four pillars of brand equity through different dimensions of interaction between a brand and its stakeholders. We will address four examples to illustrate the point. While the brands cited in the rest of this article may satisfy all four criteria, we will only use one brand example to highlight each measure.

Differentiation under the Communication and Design Dimension

Businesses strive to make their brands unique. Differentiation is strongly associated with a brand’s communication and design. Given the proximity that Twitter provides, twittering is undoubtedly a highly unique way for companies to communicate with customers. However, this advantage may not last for long due to Twitter’s fast growth, because when the majority of brands have their own Twitter pages the fact that a brand has a Twitter page will no longer be unique. At least for the time being, however, Twitter can contribute to brand differentiation. JetBlue Airways, an American low-cost airline, has differentiated its brand through Twitter communication. Since problems with flights can cause a lot of headaches, JetBlue has set up a service where customers can complain about flight problems directly to airline staff via Twitter. It is no wonder JetBlue has already attracted more than 1.1 million followers since the launch of its Twitter page in the spring of 2007. Today its account is often cited as an example of smart corporate twittering. Using Twitter to create an efficient customer service communication platform will contribute to JetBlue’s differentiation and overall brand equity.


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