Can we "Tweet" our way to wealth, fame, success…even the Oval Office?
A "Tweet," of course, is the 140-character message sent by devotees of
Twitter.com, an online micro-blogging service, that has caught on with millions of
people, literally: actor Ashton Kutcher is in a race to get 1,000,000 people
"following" him via the online service. The 2008 U.S. Presidential campaigns,
for better or for worse, used Twitter; there's already an "@ObamaBiden2012"
Twitter feed up and running. You can also can follow "@Sarah_Palin" and
the Alaska governor's political action committee, if you desire.
But Warren Whitlock, a marketing entrepreneur in Las Vegas, isn't out to change
the political landscape with Twitter. He wants to make authors famous, "best
selling" writers, even, and then help them capitalize on that fame via speaking
engagements and the like. In the book world, noted agent and Christian book editor
W. Terry Whalin calls it "building a platform," and Mr. Whitlock might be the
Home Depot of that genre. His latest book, co-authored with Deborah Micek, is
"Twitter Revolution: How Social Media and Mobile Marketing is Changing the Way We
Do Business & Market Online," published by Xeno Press.
Thousands already follow Mr. Whitlock's "tweets" and Facebook messages - he
has over 4,300 Facebook friends and 30,000 total Twitter followers, roughly 50
percent more than Mrs. Palin's PAC. From there, his imperatives can sometimes go
viral, sending a book on business credit or human relations or marketing up the
Amazon.com sales charts. Be a "number one best selling author" on Amazon for
even one day and your cachet is enhanced, the thinking goes.
For Mr. Whitlock, it's all built on trust: "Today, we want to buy from people
that we know, like and trust," he said in a telephone inteview. He builds that
trust by offering free tips and audio recordings of how-to strategies, as well as
"It really is, I believe, when I let go of how can I sell more and where can I
find those people to serve, [that] it all turned around for me," he added. "The
principles I'm talking about are nothing new, but the technology has gotten so
good. I can maintain a loose, friendly relationship with thousands or millions of
This kind of marketing - building online communities - is catching on. Former
marketing executive David Meerman Scott's newest book, "World Wide Rave"
(Wiley) is all about the concept of getting people, online, excited about your
company or product - or candidate - wherever in the world they might be.
Scott's enthusiasm is so infectious and his persuasion so persuasive, that if
you're not an acolyte of his methods by the time you finish, check to see if you
still have a pulse.
Jennifer Leggio, a marketing communications pro in Silicon Valley and "social
business blogger" for ZDNet.com, advises that there's potential, and pitfalls,
in pursuing dollars 140 characters at a time.
"There's absolutely an opportunity for an individual or company to build
relationships that help them become more successful as opposed to some other social
methods," Ms. Leggio said in an April 13 interview. However, she adds, "If
anyone used Twitter solely as a get-rich-quick scheme or thinks it's a sure fire way
to make money, they're misguided."
Twitter isn't just an "outbound" strategy - you should listen to what your
customer base is saying, she noted. Mr. Whitlock mentioned that Comcast will respond
to subscriber complaints via Twitter and won't "let go" until the problem is
resolved, for example.
Ms. Leggio adds, "for some reason, the Twitter audience is more discerning than
other audiences. If you come across as only being there to sell, that's the minute
you'll start to lose your audience."