Printers Get Social with Twitter Tweets

“So now what?” This little phrase appears often on Twitter. In fact, it’s usually the very first tweet on someone’s account. —by Sarah Meade

For all that this micro-blogging service is currently being touted as the hottest new social networking tool for businesses, a number of people remain dubious. Perhaps not unreasonably, they may be asking, “Is this tool relevant to me if my business isn't Web-focused? And how much can I really accomplish with only 140 characters per post?” 

The answers are, respectively, yes and quite a lot, but only if you're willing to put in the time and the effort. Anyone who's ventured onto Twitter or any social media application has probably already been told to keep up a steady flow of content in order to gain followers, which begs the question: How do you come up with new content on a regular basis? What if you just don't have anything to say? The selection of printers and cross-media marketers featured here are all using Twitter successfully, so if you're stumped, try some of their ideas—and remember that there's always something to say.

One of the easiest ways to generate content is to post about or link to things that you like and are enthusiastic about. It can be about your personal interests as well as your industry, as long as you maintain a balance between the two. Scott DuBois (@scottdubois), vice president of cross-media marketer Reynolds DeWalt, does a nice job with this. Most of his tweets are industry-centered, but he also slips in the occasional post about sports, aviation, or his family.

Laura Beulke, owner of printing and marketing company Vertical Printing & Graphics (@VPG_Printing), regularly uses her Twitter account to notify customers of monthly and weekly specials. She also posts contests that allow followers to win free print jobs—last month's was a set of 50 custom photo holiday cards.

If a customer sends you a message on Twitter saying that you did a great job, retweet their message so that everyone, including potential customers, can see the good feedback. (Retweeting is simply posting an exact copy of the person's message, preceded by the abbreviation “RT.”) When a client of printing company Hotcards (@hotcards) posted a review on his Website praising its work on a direct mail print job, the company linked to that review on Twitter.

Was your company featured in an article? Did it win an award? Post a link and let everyone know. InterlinkONE (@interlinkone), a multi-channel marketing firm, is especially diligent about this—not only does it link to articles that feature the company, it also includes "Thank you" tweets to the sites responsible. Thanking someone on Twitter only takes an instant, but it creates more content on your page and makes others more likely to return the favor by linking to you.

Printstars (@printstars), a Long Island, NY, printing company, recently shared a tweet about the projects it was working on that day: “Let's see... starting off today with a chorus group program, a Lion's club directory, hundreds of blueprints, 4 mounted posters & 1 mailing.” Foster Printing (@FosterPrinting), a commercial printer based in Michigan, talked about using seeded paper for the company's 2008 holiday card design and asked followers to suggest ideas for this year.

Live blogging, or providing live coverage of an event, can be a great way to generate traffic. When Foster Printing (@FosterPrinting) participated in the 2009 Folio:Show, its representatives posted thoughts on the sessions they visited and encouraged followers to visit their booth.