Twitter Basics: Companies on Twitter

twitterbasics4_cropI’ve written about some of the basics of using twitter in earlier posts, now I want to take a look at how companies are using twitter for a business purpose. I want to focus on companies getting it right – but I will point out some #fail moments!

The first thing to think about is what is your purpose for using twitter, I’ve broken it down to five options, but of course most companies use a combination on the same twitter account. Which you use will depend on your business; but make sure you have the customer service sorted out first.

1; Customer Service

One of the most common ways of using twitter is as a customer service channel, sometimes known as webcare. This means answering people’s questions online, regarding your company’s products and service – sometimes even when the question hasn’t been directed at you. Here are some examples of customer care tweets. I think you need to have good customer service in place before trying the other options here, otherwise you will hear complaints where you are trying to have a discussion.

Companies doing this include; ING, Citibank, O2, Yahoo (or flickr), AT&T and Delta.

2; Customer Engagement

Beyond supporting your customers with service you can use twitter to have a conversation with your customers.

Here’s an example from Dutch airline KLM.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 17.14.37@SusanAretz posted a picture of a KLM plane from Madurodam, a miniature village filled with scenes from around the Netherlands. She tweeted “I’m curious where this @KLM flight is going”. Soon after KLM responded “Hello Susan, this is a special flight, destination ‘Dreamland’ :-)”

KLM uses social media really well, providing good customer care around the clock and connecting with customers using humour.

3; Marketing

Twitter can be an effective marketing tool, it can be used to promote events, generate leads – by offering whitepapers via email signup, and offer discounts or coupon codes. Those three options can be used for free, but their effectiveness is going to depend on your existing following.

You can also use either promoted tweets, or a promoted account. It’s hard to find accurate figures on these because twitter promoted tweets uses a bidding process similar to internet ad words, and the promoted account costs are based on a cost per follower. You can however set a budget so you can cap your spending for a twitter marketing campaign.

4; Online Brand

Twitter, and social media generally, is a great tool to share your online content. Companies use it to increase the reach of all sorts of content from press releases to timely product information. For example we’ve just had a series of electric storms in the Netherlands and ING tweeted a link to their general storm advice, including information regarding insurance.

5; Build a Customer Network

Providing quality help/support, sharing selected information on twitter first, hosting relevant tweet chats will all build a strong customer network. If you can build a customer network on twitter they will share your content by re-tweeting, expanding your reach. They may also answer questions about your brand on your behalf, and in times of crisis can help by spreading your crisis news and reactions.

 Some Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Acquire a twitter handle that matches your brand, usually your brand name.
  2. Use your logo as an avatar, it appears next to each tweet in your followers’ feeds
  3. Use a brand related image as your header image
  4. Specify the hours the account is monitored and responding; note if you’re an airline there’s an expectation that this will be 24/7
  5. Verify your account; with the official blue tick if you can (this is available for really famous people or for those with a decent ad spend on twitter). Link from your twitter account to your company site, and from your company site to twitter – this provides some verification for your followers if the blue tick isn’t an option
  6. Choose the right person/people to manage your account, they need to know twitter but they also need to know your company.
  7. Identify who is posting if multiple people manage your account, the convention for this is ^name or ^initials
  8. Set up guidelines  for your account including the purpose and tone of voice, this is especially important if your account is managed by several people
  9. Control sign-on, there have been a number of cases where employees tweeted from a company account by mistake – thinking it was their personal account. Consider using separate tools or apps to prevent this happening.
  10. Use hashtags – carefully – there are plenty of examples of hashtags going wrong.
  11. Tweet regularly, daily.
  12. Respond and RT.
  13. Listen to and understand your followers – the more expert they are on social media the greater the opportunity to interact.

Avoid these mistakes;

A final word

Keep your original purpose in mind and listen to your customers/followers, don’t be scared to try new things – and be prepared to adjust or abandon ideas that didn’t work. Finally – share what you learn, that’s what makes the twitter world go around.

Next Week; in the final post in this series I’ll look at some of the trolls, fakers, hackers and scams you may encounter on twitter.

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