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Sony Sells Laptops, Sears Tweets Jobs: Alternative Uses of Twitter

Dell turned heads last year when it announced it sold $6.5 million worth of computers via Twitter. Since then, a few companies have tried to replicate this feat - in some cases with clear success. The larger question, though, is not so much how can a company use Twitter to sell - but rather, what other uses can the micro blogging site perform for companies aside from general brand awareness.

Companies can be forgiven, though, if their thoughts first turn to sales. As it happens, using Twitter to make sales has not been easy to accomplish, according the Big Money blog. For a direct-sales company like Dell it is a no-brainer, it said.

Sony: $1.5 Million in Twitter Sales

It was questionable, though, whether big brands that rely on retailers to sell the product could also transact with their Twitter followers without aggravating their business partners. Sony's European division decided to find out.

It recently offered 1,600 Twitter followers a chance to custom-build their own Sony Vaio laptop and get 10% knocked off from the final sale price. According to Big Money, Sony posted Twitter Vaio sales of more than $1.5 million during the limited-offer period.

Sony is taking a more nuanced approach to Twitter than Dell or other retailers that use it to offer coupons or other bargains. The company wants to maintain its relationship-driven communication with its customers. The dialogue, in other words, is just as important as the sale. That is why the company has no plans to bombard its Twitter followers with generic offers but instead will roll out specialized products "unique enough that will get the community buzzing."

Dunkin Donuts: Win Free Coffee for a Year

Dunkin Donuts is another company cautiously feeling its way with a sales pitch to Twitter followers, writes the St. Louis Business Journal. The company has started to track dollars from Twitter by tallying the number of people who click through from a "Win Free Coffee For a Year Offer" on Twitter. Also users who enroll in the "DD perks" program are entered into a company database.

The company has a quantitative value for database members, although it will not disclose that number or the Twitter click-through rate, the Journal said.

Sears: Tweeting for Job Applicants

Sears is planning to use the site to post 7,000 job openings at Sears and K-Mart. (via the Los Angeles Times). The job tweets will be posted by TweetMyJobs.com, which allows clients to track the number of clicks on the jobs. According to Lance Brolin, a Sears human relations executive, the company wants to see how social media can best meet its employment and advertising needs.

Time Warner Cable: Customer Service Tweets

For the most part, though, companies are using Twitter to generate brand awareness and to follow their customers’ conversations. That has morphed for some firms into customer service outreach. Time Warner Cable just announced a new Online Customer Care Team @TWCablePhil that will use e-mail, Twitter, and other forms of social media to get customers help. Since its initial soft-launch on February 19th, the team has engaged over 1,500 customers via Twitter.

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