Fara Hain grabbed my attention in a big way. In a recent comment on {grow} she mentioned that Twitter had led her to discover a new market for her company’s product. REALLY? I asked her tell us more and here she goes:

To some, Twitter is surely the Paris Hilton of new media, a place popular only because of its own popularity, fascinating because it’s so clearly pointless. And I admit my initial impression of Twitter was similar. But it didn’t take too long to make me a believer because I saw first-hand how Twitter helped our company create an entirely new line of business.

While working at Gizmoz (now digime), I was pulled into the world of Twitter by two friends who were early adopters.  They encouraged me to try it out and I started by “listening” through a daily search for Gizmoz on the Twitter search box. I thought it would be interesting to see what, if anything, people were saying about us. I collated responses into a spreadsheet to see if I could find a theme or locate emerging influencers.

I found that there was a group of people using my site in a completely different way than I had expected. Gizmoz is a B2C 3D animation company which had launched a web-based tool for teens to create greetings and videos using 3D avatars. On Twitter, our tool was being discussed with hashtags like #edtech.

It turns out we were being discussed on the podium at a major education conference!  To my surprise, teachers had been using Gizmoz in the classroom as an interactive tool for students to create presentations (science classes, social studies, even a kindergarten class!). We were blown away.

By making some simple changes to our product, and asking teachers for their direct feedback, we were able to make Gizmoz more classroom-friendly. We added avatars like Albert Einstein and other historical figures and we started to be more aggressive about hiding public posts which featured less appropriate content.

In our new marketing effort, we actively targeted teachers – who are, in fact, major viral influencers – one teacher influencing 30 students is a marketer’s dream! In this example, teacher in Australia embeds a Gizmoz example in his blog post.

It’s doubtful that I would have ever discovered this amazing new market for our products without Twitter. So while the occasional, “I’m drinking coffee” tweet may be annoying, I now know there’s deep value in there if you know how to look for it.

Fara Hain tweets on Marketing and Financial Media for her company Seeking Alpha

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