In today's fast paced world the Internet is having a massive impact on businesses. If businesses are not in touch with the World Wide Web and the applications available to improve business, then they are going to fall behind. There is a online tool that businesses are using in order to advertise for free that allows them to reach a much larger target audience than ever before; this technology is Twitter. By now most people have heard of Twitter, but a proper explanation of the application is in order. Twitter is an online social network, where people can post texts of up to 140 characters at a time for either a specific group of people or for the entire Twitter community. People can join a specific group within the community as long as that group has been created. For instance, a large retail company such as Target could create a Twitter account and fans of the brand could join their fan base in order to receive up to date information about their company such as sales, new products, and other worthy information the company feels they want their fans to see. Many companies are beginning to use this technology for the purposes of free advertising. In the following, I will explain why Twitter is a technology that Target should use to provide better service to their customers and receive better overall business in return.

Starting off, Twitter has a short history that looks like it is going to have a long future. According to Adario Strange (2007) Jack Dorsey came up with the original idea for Twitter in 2006 (p. 1). The main function of Twitter is to post what are referred to as "Tweets." The word twitter is actually not a made up word but one that was chosen for its meaning. The word twitter refers to a bird giving a call consisting of repeated light tremulous sounds. This word best describes Twitter because what Twitter really is, is a form of instantaneous social networking between humans. In this new age of social networking, businesses need to keep up to date with its consumers. In recent years advertising on the Internet has become a successful tool for businesses. Twitter has opened the door to many possibilities for business, and in terms of Target, Twitter would be a great tool that the company should adopt. With evidence and creative thinking, let us take a look at the possibilities for a company such as Target to utilize Twitter to improve their business.

To begin, for years there have been conventional ways for businesses to advertise, such as radio, television, billboards and newspapers. The Internet has played the largest role in the dismantling of countless newspapers, and leading fewer companies to purchase radio and television commercials. Different applications on the Internet have provided companies the opportunity to advertise in a more effective way. A key reason why the Internet is a more effective way to advertise is the ability to reach a specific target audience more precisely than on any of the former mediums. One of those ways to advertise for free is by using Twitter to reach a fan base, or more accurately in the case of Twitter, is letting the fan base find you. Andrew Keen reaches an absolutely correct conclusion while being interviewed by The Futurist (2010)…the only way to build a brand successfully is to use a service like Twitter (p. 35). Target is already an established retail company, but in times of recession new strategies are required to keep a company out of the red. Big name companies are starting to catch on, and they are seeing major economic return. One of those companies is the well-known Dell, according to Ankeny (2009) "Dell recently credited its Twitter feed, which the computer giant uses to offer deals and discounts, for driving more the $3 million in sales in a two year period, (p. 28)." That's a lot of money to make from free advertising, and other businesses do not want to get caught falling behind, or the chances are they will end up struggling greatly. After experimenting for a few years with this new technology it is showing great results. Messages are able to reach their target audience instantly, especially with the use of other technologies such as smart phones. People have the Internet on them at all times, making Twitter one of the ultimate forms of push marketing, with a twist. First, one must request to receive updates by joining the companies fan page, after that its push away at the companies digression. Target is a perfect company to get maximum use out of Twitter. Going back to college sales and sales for black Friday are just a few of the uses Target could get out of this technology. As Wilkins (2009) says, "…Twitter [is] the perfect application for one-way broadcasting of short fairly transitory messages such as meeting announcements or promotions…breaking news about the organization or industry (p. 25)." Another way companies are using Twitter is for customer service, which leads into another benefit that Target can derive from incorporating Twitter into their overall marketing strategy.

A problem businesses have always had problems solving is receiving effective feedback from customers to improve customer service. It has always been difficult to get customers to give beneficial feedback because there has never been a way to provide it quite like Twitter. Rather than getting that annoying market research person in the mall begging you to answer questions in a back room, the customer gets to join the group on their own. This allows for more honest feedback from people who join the group. McDonald's is one company who has started to understand this, and is using their knowledge to their competitive advantage. As stated by G.M (2010), "After McDonald's tested Twitter to promote its Monopoly game and got more consumer impressions through tweeting than traditional media, the fast-food giant was sold on the medium. McDonald's…has over 4,700 followers, (p. 116)." The followers that have joined McDonald's Twitter group are people who are more interested in the company than the average person, making it more likely that they will give meaningful effective opinions in order to help make one of their favorite companies better. Mancini (2009) puts it well when he says, "…most important, if you are using Twitter for business or organizational purposes, tweet with that purpose in mind (p. 18)." Target could use Twitter to gain effective feedback from customers to improve customer service. If businesses do not see positive results quickly they should not veer away from using the technology, as Luke (2009) said, "social networking is still networking. Don't expect miracles to happen overnight (p. 19)."

Moving on, there is a controversy or two that comes along with Twitter. The first controversy has to do with trademark protection. Archie, Barry, and Olson (2009) bring up an important point, "As Twitter becomes increasingly popular and more companies begin to establish Twitter accounts, the need to protect recognized trademarks becomes more apparent (p. 24)." Twitter holds the right to reclaim any user name if a business or individual already "hold legal claim or trademark on those usernames (Archie, Barry, Olson, p. 25).

According to Archie, Barry and Olson (2009) Twitter also specifically prohibits name squatting or "user name for sale accounts." According to Twitter: Name squatting and "user name for sale" accounts will be permanently suspended. Attempts to sell or extort other forms of payment in exchange for user name will result in account suspension. Accounts that are inactive for more than six months may be removed without further notice. Twitter relies on its own discretion in determining whether name squatting has occurred. It will take the following factors into account: the number of accounts created… creating accounts for the purpose of selling those accounts… (p. 25).

Despite all this controversy, the rules seem to be in the favor of those businesses that want to join the Twitter community. According to Archie, Barry and Olson (2009) businesses creating a Twitter account remains free, but most likely not for long. The people at Twitter understand many businesses are beginning to join Twitter and in the future are looking for ways to charge for commercial accounts (p.23). Already many businesses have joined the Twitter frenzy, some of those businesses are Whole Foods Market at number one with 1.438 million followers, Starbucks at number five with 301,463 followers, and coming in at number ten is American Apparel with 44,660 followers (p. 24). With numbers like that it is easy to see why Target should jump on board and start using Twitter to promote their company.

Target is a perfect candidate to benefit from this blossoming technology. In order for Target to take full advantage they must act rather swiftly so they can get ahead of their competitors. Twitter is the next big tool in business, and a large retail company such as Target would not regret making a hard push to integrate Twitter into their business.


Ankeny, J. (2009, December). How twitter is revolutionizing business: (140 characters at a time). Entrepreneur, 37(12), 27-30, 32.

The article talks about Twitter and its newfound applications for small business. In recent months small business have seen impressive benefits in increased business due to marketing on Twitter. Twitter serves as a free advertising tool, which allows those businesses that are not able to afford conventional advertising.

Archie,, J., Barry, J., & Olson, C. (2009, November). Protecting your rights in

140 characters or less: trademark protection on twitter. Intellectual

Property & Technology Law Journal, 21(11), 23-26.

The article talks about how business are using Twitter to advance their business. It also talks about trademark rights about ideas talked about on Twitter.

G. M. (2010, January). TOP TWEETS. Entrepreneur, 38(1), 116-116.

This journal article talks about the uses that fortune 500 companies have found for Twitter. The companies include such names as McDonald's, Hampton Hotels, H&R Block just to name a few. Many of these companies have obtained a Twitter fan base that has reached the thousands and is bound to get larger. The idea is that these companies can become more in-touch with the consumer and able to get a clearer idea of what is wanted.

Luke, K. (2009, December). Marketing the new-fashioned way: connect with your target market through social networking sites. Journal of Financial Planning , 18-19.

The author talks about how social networking sites such as Twitter are becoming a must use tool for businesses who have certain types of clientele such as financial planners. He explains how and why social networking sites are bringing information the consumers that otherwise would go unseen and unadvertised.

Mancini, J. F. (2009, October). 8 things you need to know about twitter and business . Infonomics , 23(5), 18.

The author talks about how Twitter can be utilized to Twitter more efficiently and in turn apply these tactics to business. He states that if one is tweeting for business to "tweet with that purpose in mind." One of his keys to Twitter and business is the understanding of hashtags.

Reinventing the luddite: an interview with andrew keen. (2010, April). Futurist, 44(2), 2.

Keen talks about the future of our nation and how Twitter is affect our societies way of life. He says that without privacy in our nation anymore, business should put as much info forward as possible in order to become totally transparent.

Strange, A. (2007, April 20). Flickr document reveals origin of twitter. Retrieved February 22, 2010, from‌epicenter/‌2007/‌04/‌flickr_document/

The short article talks about how the man who actually came up with the idea for Twitter is named Jack Dorsey in 2006. The bit of "info porn" was spotted on a Flickr account.

Wilkins, J. (2009, October). The business case for twitter. Infonomics, 23(5), 25.

The article talks about how Twitter is a good tool to reach people quickly. The tool is good for quick blubs such as "meeting announcements or promotions." The article also talks about how Twitter is showing true signs that it is here to stay because of new applications that are being created to enhance the Twitter experience.