Twitter: A Case Study on Social Media Relations

Twitter Logo

Twitter – the mobile-based microblogging service – has become the new darling among social media marketers and internet geeks since the SXSWi conference in 2007. Lacking any kind of monetization model, Twitter seems a trendy but not sustainable company, like PointCast in the 1990s.

Twitter: 10 Downing Street, Zappos,, NYTimes, H&RBlock

Maybe Twitter wont be around to see 2010, yet many major brands have moved in to communicate with consumers and the world via Twitter: H&R Block (Finance), 10 Downing Street (The UK equivalent of US “White House”), Zappos (Online Retailer) and countless others like BBC News to Yahoo’s Marketing Team and to the New York LaGuardia airport. Is this wasted energy by the PR/Marketing offices of H&R Block or even US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s social media team?

The short answer is: no.

But to expand more, let’s discuss two subjects:

  1. Two Quick Reasons to Consider Twittering for your Brand
  2. Case Studies on the 3 different types of Twitters:
    Conversational, News Item and Reputation Monitoring Twitter Users

Two Reasons to Twitter

1. Understanding Social Media Better

Just by utilizing twitter, these brands through experimentation are learning and understanding more about social media and their customers. Twitter may not have a business model yet, but reaching out and getting to know customers is part of the business process these brands need to have to survive. Be it blogging, facebook-ing or twittering – the same core skills in understanding how to reach customers are similar. Learning how to do it on twitter is a skillset that can be applied to feature social media mediums.

2. Keeping Track of the “Linkerati” (Highly vocal and connected influencers)

Despite the buzz and activity of, their membership of just over 1 million users seem a paltry sum compared to MySpace, Facebook , Bebo and others.

However, Twitter is definitely on the bleeding edge of early adopters, specifically the “Linkerati” (as coined by Rand Fishkin). The Linkerati are the special type of early adopters who are very vocal on the Internet – be it twittering, blogging or doing a Yelp/Amazon review of your business or product. Current Twitter members, due to their Linkerati demographic, may have a higher than average say on influencing your brand.

The 3 Different Types of Twittering Brands

1. Conversational Twitters: H&R Block, Zappos, 10 Downing Street

H&R Block, Zappos and 10 Downing Street are incredibly innovate in that they truly embrace twitter as a conversational & microblogging platform.

H&R Block

H&R Block reaches out to Twitter members complaining about taxes and assist as customer service for those dissatisfied with their H&R Block experience. And yes, H&R Block – a financial services company – even does the occasional fart-related humor on twitter.

H&R Block on Twitter


Zappos‘ twitter is run by the Zappos CEO. He covers daily events and going-ons at Zappos to askings for feedback on their new beta website and throwing a free shoe prize here and there. His comments go from the serious and jovial. The Zappos CEO is twittering as someone who just happens to work for Zappos (Steve from Zappos) instead of sounding like a press release channel for Zappos.

Zappos on Twitter

10 Downing Street

10 Downing Street, while a highly public and political office, attempts to humanize itself with mentions of everything from how a visit from George Clooney caused “quite the stir” with the 10 Downing Street staff to answering questions from fellow twitter members.

10 Downing Street on Twitter

2. News Item Twitters:, New York Times

Both and New York Times utilize Twitter as another distribution platform to send their audience updates. For, this means pushing out news about their news sales (Gold Box), while the New York Times publishes their latest headlines. For them twitter is based used as a one way microblogging platform.

This is definitely not very *social* media, but it allows yet another route by which to reach their audience in a relatively low cost (same mechanism as an RSS feed) method. They are embracing the idea that they benefit from being present wherever and how ever people view and digest information, specifically their information.

3. Reputation Monitoring Twitters: Radian6 & GeekSquad

Finally, there companies like Radian6 and the GeekSquad, which while not necessarily on Twitter, they do monitor, track and respond to Twitter comments. Of course, tracking and responding to Twitter messages are more important than being on Twitter itself.

GeekSquad is fairly well known American at-home computer servicing company. Recently, a fellow blogger friend, Michael Brito, twittered about a poor experience he received from Geek Squad on Twitter:

Only a few hours after twitter, Michael learns:

A few hours later, I get an email from Robert Stephens, the Founder and Chief Inspector of the Geek Squad. He asked me what my issues were and that he would look into it. Let’s see if he lives up to his promise of personally resolving the complaints of those who read the The Consumerist(lol, not really a consumerist reader though).

Nonetheless, this is a great illustration of how a company can use social media to track conversations and (hopefully) take action. We will soon find out if the Geek Squad is going to create a loyal customer, with lots and lots of friends, family and acquaintances. ; )

Radian6 is a social media monitoring company, so no surprise here. Recently, a representative from Radian6 reached out to me and mentioned he saw my twitter on social media and wanted to know if I needed a demo.

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Daniel writes on foresight and explores new economic systems. He has over 15 years of experience in technology & digital marketing and has worked with clients in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Daniel is currently part of the University of Houston's Foresight Program.


  1. Hey there Daniel,

    Thanks for the mention. In fact we were just talking again about how important it is to be always listening – for customer questions, product ideas and suggestions, etc… And Twitter is definitely an important channel to be monitoring (in fact ‘shameless plug to follow’, we monitor a full stream of all public tweets from within our Radian6 solution.)

    We actually are on twitter as people, @davidalston, @lebrun, @cdnewt, @chrisramsey, @tozer, @tweetrich, @dhotchkiss, @nbreau, etc… We will have to point folks who land on @radain6 to follow us at any of our individual accounts at least for now.

    Great post.


    David Alston

    PS. The demo will be primed and ready whenever you get a moment 🙂

  2. Great post for new users on twitter and for companies to understand the value of twitter with their existing customer base.

    I’m @waynesutton on twitter and I approve this case study

  3. Good writeup. Definitely will keep in mind next time I talk to clients, and am forwarding to my colleague @mikegermano who’s got a related talk with a client tomorrow.

  4. Great summary, Daniel and really good examples of how companies should use social media – not as another channel for their corporate voice, but for their personal voice.

    I’m impressed to see how some companies have learned to understand this new medium. I think your quote from H&R says exactly what it’s about: “We’re not just another corporation;) We’re people!”

    I made a summare of great posts on Twitter on my blog and I will need to add this one. I would also like to quote your cases when I speak about how corporations can use social media on friday, if that’s ok.

    Great work.

    (@hjortur on twitter)

  5. Daniel. Caught this from a Twitter post just seconds after a great morning chat this morning inside Intel. Thanks for articulating “the notion” some of us share — if you’re curious, try it, learn and share what you’re learning with others. Seems that’s what it’s all about:) Cheers!

  6. A nice summary of ways brands can use conversations to begin building relationships with people. The more that media and marketing become social (conversational), the greater the need for brands to be able to have these conversations.

  7. Pandora (@pandora_radio) also watches for tweets. I enjoy twitter because most of the dropped links I’ve seen come through my stream are well qualified and ultimately, of value. Thanks for the post!

  8. Interesting post and I really like how you segment the different brands twittering into categories. It would be interesting if Twitter would allow some sort of functionality where I could separate my tweet feed into categories. For example, if I could set a folder called “social media” and filter whom I describe as social media twitterers into it. Then buzz through that folder of feeds while leaving some other feed folders for later. As my list of followers grow I feel like I sometimes miss out on great tweets.

  9. Thanks for compiling this information, its very helpful to see how the use of Twitter is spreading. It’s easy as a user to shut out what you don’t want, with all the tools out there (Twhirl, Twitteriffic, etc) to basically only get what you want. SO, I am glad to see positive examples of brands using Twitter to engage their customers.

  10. […] Daniel Riveong has a good article profiling some reasons to add Twitter to Social Media campaigns.    First off, he gets our attention by mentioning a few big brands that see value, including H&R Block,  10 Downing Street, Zappos , BBC News, Yahoo’s Marketing Team, and the New York LaGuardia airport. We’ll had some of our own personal case studies as we experiment over the next few months.  But check out Daniel’s article for a primer. Bookmark and Share This Page | « CloseSave to Browser FavoritesAskbackflipblinklistBloglinesBlogMarksBlogsvineBUMPzee!co.mments.comConnoteadel.icio.usDotNetKicksDiggdiigodropjack.comdzoneFacebookFarkFavesFeed Me LinksFriendsiteFurlGoogleHuggJeqqKaboodlelinkaGoGoLinksMarkerMa.gnoliaMister WongMixxMySpaceMyWebNetvouzNewsvinePlugIMpopcurrentPropellerRedditRojoSegnaloShoutwireSimpysk*rtSlashdotSphereSphinnSpurl.netSquidooStumbleUponTailrankTechnoratiThisNextWebrideWindows LiveYahoo!EmailHTML: If you like this then please subscribe to the RSS feed or Email feed.Powered by Bookmarkify™ More » […]

  11. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the Case Study. New to Twitter for our own company, I’m interested to see what comes of it, especially since we are in the Irish Market. It would be interesting to see more Case Studies on small businesses and how they utilise Twitter. What kind of business do you think is best suited for Twitter, from a marketing perspective?

    Thanks again.

    Emer Lawn
    Online Marketing Executive
    Interactive Return


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