When Twitter Works

By Lizzy Bennett

Many people (most people?) think that Twitter, except during humanitarian or political crises, is a waste of time. But I disagree! I use Twitter (and Facebook) all day every day in my role at Timbuk2. Again, I'm not telling you this to sell you bags, I'm just sharing my own experience.

Twitter allows us to develop relationships with customers in real time. What happened last week is perhaps the best example of why I consider Twitter an important and meaningful tool for Timbuk2.

Out of the blue, a @timbuk2 follower tweets:

Intro from customer

@SanukFootwear and @timbuk2 (me) see it in their feed and respond:
T2 to Strangebum.pngSanuk response to Strangbum.png


And then start tweeting to each other:


 T2 to Sanuk.pngSanuk to T2.png

Within 24 hours Timbuk2 goes from admiring Sanuk at a safe distance, to brushing up against Sanuk, to communicating directly with Sanuk, to brainstorming and agreeing to partner with Sanuk in the immediate future.

T2 signoff.pngSanuk final.png




This never would have happened without Twitter or importantly, an engaged community.

The "baby talk" and emoticons inspired by Twitter's character limit can be nauseating. We don't even need to talk about the usernames. But while the correspondence above is not exactly sophisticated, it's meaningful because a connection was made.

Keeping up with our community takes time, but it's time well spent. If we're hitting it out of the park, it's nice to hear about it. If we're slacking or failing -- when the site goes down, and we like to believe it doesn't, but it does -- we need to know about it. Or when someone's laptop won't fit in one of our laptop bags, or we're just not moving fast enough. Twitter gives us real-time feedback, new product ideas -- our community hammered on a camera bag until we finally made one and now it's a hit for everyone -- and now, intros to new partners. It works!

Lizzy Bennett is online marketing manager for Timbuk2 Design in San Francisco.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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