When Twitter Works

By James Fallows

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/02/when-twitter-works/71021/