Analysts are predicting that 2011 could be the year when businesses begin to derive real benefit from Twitter and other social media.
There are some intriguing early successes in the environmental field. The electric car with the biggest public profile is the Nissan Leaf, launched in the US in December, 2010, and in the UK in March, 2011.
It already has a healthy presence on Twitter, publishing lively and informative messages such as “Did you know-pure EVs can be fully charged in around 30 minutes!”; “Charging the Leaf would cost as little as 3p a mile! “; “Cracker Barrel adds re-charging stations for electric cars. Want a plug-in with your fried chicken? “
The two main accounts, UKNissanLeaf and NissanLEAF, already have about 9000 followers between them. And Nissan are hardly on the streets with their all-electric car, which is also being supported by another form of social media, in which owners will “cloud” together to compare their mileage.
The US (Oregon-based) electric motorbike manufacturer Brammo, with over 15,000 followers, is doing even better. The company has been producing its first all electric model, the Enertia (80-mile range), for some time. But ever since it announced its new model, the Empulse, due out in early 2011, it has bombarded the Twittersphere with reminders of the new bike’s capabilities, promising 100 miles per charge (on one model), with speeds of 100 mph.
It’s too early yet to measure what the number of Twitter followers a company has means to its bottom line. Blogger Jeffery Gitomer lists companies embracing social media, including Starbucks, Burger King, IBM, Procter & Gamble, Ford and Zappos.
He writes (www.fwdailynews.com): “All of these companies, business to business or business to consumer, emphasize the same word in their philosophy and their outreach: ‘community.’ They all recognize that their customers have a voice, and by listening and responding to them, they’re discovering benefit and profit.”
For my part, I feel myself, without having to open a newspaper, or read a web news sites, in close touch with the development of two important players in clean transport. I like the vision and ambition of Nissan, but I find the cheerfully insistent Brammo marketing fascinating.
The motorbike isn’t yet available in the UK, and it could be some time before they set up a sales operation here. But in due course I have no doubt I will be told when the first model goes on sale, who is buying it, and what the mileage is, all in the form of tweets I can read on my mobile phone in a second.
Who knows, one day I might even buy one. And you could probably chalk that sale down to Twitter.