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Twitter Says Conversation is the Key to Conversion

While Facebook is busy not counting clicks, Twitter wants us to sit down and have a chat – one-on-one – just you, me, and the millions of other people who check out the site every day.

It’s more wisdom from the IAB MIXX Conference, this time from Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s vice president of global brand strategy, coming to you via TechCrunch.

Lunenfeld says that “88% of Twitter users follow at least one brand, and that more than half of users follow six or more brands.”

Six or more brands! That’s a lot of people asking for daily advertisements in their stream. Some of them are hoping for discounts and freebies but others are genuinely interested in the brand and they want to be up on what’s happening.

To that end, Twitter is encouraging advertisers to change their thinking in regard to Twitter campaigns. Instead of promotion, they say it should be a conversation. Think of Twitter as a “canvas where ‘you can paint some amazing stories’.”

Poetic, isn’t it? But it’s also a great point. Twitter’s new expandable interface makes it much easier to follow a stream of consciousness. They even put the word “conversation” right in the stream.

Conversation means replying to customer questions, but it also means displaying a personality. Twitter’s best example, when Taco Bell and Old Spice decided to mix it up:

Here, Old Spice takes another step away from their out-dated, ‘cologne for grandpop’ image by poking fun at Taco Bell. Brilliant, really, because Taco Bell’s audience is made-up of young men on the go, and those are the consumers Old Spice is after.

This particular exchange is a little mean, but it works for both brands. It also works because they aren’t competitors. If Del Taco sent that message to Taco Bell, that might not sit well with fans of either brand.

Twitter realizes that this kind of campaign doesn’t put any money in their pockets, but they’re okay with that. They’re looking at the bigger picture. They figure that keeping people happy and Tweeting is the main goal and hopefully the good karma will come back to them in the future. I think that’s a great way to run a business. Twitter’s entire eco-system is based on having a large number of people visit the site on a daily basis, so if they come to see the Taco Bell / Old Spice show, they’ll also see the promoted Tweet from Oreos at the top of their stream.

Assignment for today, start a conversation on Twitter. Talk about the weather, the latest movies or last night’s earthquake (for those here in SoCal). Show your followers that you’re not just a brand, but that you’re human, too.