Hopefully by now, if I started to harp on about the business benefits of Twitter, then I’d be preaching to the converted. You all know that Twitter is great for self-promotion and linking followers back to your website. You’re perfectly aware that it’s fantastic for networking and keeping up to date on what’s hot in your industry. But what you might not realize, and what needs to be emphasized, is what a powerful tool Twitter can be for customer service, for building real connections with your clientele, and engaging them in conversations that emphasize your expertise. Considering that noise, too much self-promotion, and spam posts are the top three reasons given by Twitter uses for unfollowing people or businesses, it’s definitely time to think before you tweet. No longer will tweeting links to your blog posts cut it, and gone are the days when you could shamelessly chirp on about your fantastic sale. These days, if you want to be really heard on Twitter, then you’ve got to earn your part in the conversation. If all this is making you a little nervous, fret not. By adjusting your Twitter tactics, and paying attention to the subsequent tips, you’ll see your number of followers grow, your credibility soar, and your business reap the benefits of transfixing the Twittersphere.
Assist Your Customers to Keep Them Happy
Good customer service lets your customers know that you care about them, improves your reputation and leads to repeat business. Twitter can help you deliver excellent customer service, as its lightning-fast nature allows customer issues to be resolved in a jiffy. A customer with a problem is likely to get extremely irritated spending an age listening to hold music while being charged for the privilege, whereas a customer that tweets a question, gets on with his or her business, and is supplied with an answer in a reasonable timeframe could even be pleased enough to tweet again about their positive interaction with your business. It’s cheap, effective and to the point. So how do you do it effectively?
Track your brand
Use a tool such as Hoot Suite or Tweetbeep to track the conversation surrounding your brand. Monitor all keywords that could relate to your brand and its features, so that you can quickly respond to any negative rumblings.
Make your presence known
Let your customers know that you’re trying to engage with them via Twitter by asking them to follow you and placing a button allowing them to do so prominently on your website. If they don’t know they can reach you there, your presence is pointless.
Give quality responses as quickly as possible
Respond to any negative tweets regarding your business quickly, using an “@reply,” remembering Twitter’s public nature. Transparency is the key; anyone can see your conversation, so be as pleasant and helpful as possible. If a customer is particularly upset, reach out to them on a more personal level to prevent escalation.
Engage and be authentic
A half-hearted response is worse than no response at all; it lets your customer know that you’re aware of their problem, but you don’t care enough to resolve it. Listen to your customers, and engage with them on a personal level (more on that in the next section).
Connect with your Customers to Improve Your Image
To be a successful brand on Twitter, you have to be credible, and one way of doing this is to develop a reputation as a trusted source of information on your particular subject, says Michael Brito, for Mashable. Remember, too much self-promotion is a sure fire way to annoy your followers, so follow the 80/20 rule when tweeting. Eighty percent of your tweets should be conversational, personal, or beneficial to your followers, leaving just 20% for outright self-promotion. Keeping to this magic ratio doesn’t have to be difficult, and here’s how:
Be part of the conversation
A great way to gain followers and influence people is to enter into relevant conversations surrounding your business. Again, use tools like Tweet Deck to monitor relevant conversation surrounding your business, get a feel for its tone, discover influential users, and, when you’re ready, interject your opinions. Providing a unique perspective and pointing to pertinent content online adds value to a conversation, giving your business credibility. Follow the major players, and if you continue to impress, they’re likely to follow you back.
Even if you’re in a “boring” niche, it’s possible to think outside the box and discover what’s relevant to your customers. If you sell soap on a rope, you don’t always have to talk about soap on a rope. Think about your target demographic (OK, perhaps I chose a bad example) and discuss other topics they’re likely to be interested in (bath mats?).
Point to relevant content Even if you find it difficult to create useful content yourself, mention others who do and your Twitter cred will increase significantly.
Remember You’re a Brand
To a make the most out of Twitter, it’s important to give your account the attention that it deserves. From your Twitter ID to your Bio, you need to convey, and protect, your brand’s message with every last breath.
Spruce up your background image
Find an appropriate image for your background to help you define your brand from the offset. It’s a great place to show off your work, and should reflect what you, as a business, are all about.
Write a social media policy
If you’re using Twitter for business purposes, then a social media policy is a must. Write a set of guidelines that detail how you and your employees should and should not use Twitter (and other social media platforms) to prevent situations arising that could damage the reputation of your brand. Make sure it’s comprehensive and specific. Define words like ‘appropriate’, be clear on confidentiality, and ensure that anyone posting on your company’s behalf is extremely familiar with it.
Twitter, when used properly, can do wonders for your business, so be sure to use tools like Tweet Deck to find out what works and what doesn’t. What were your most popular tweets? Why? If you can figure this out, and repeat it, you’ll be on your way to social media superstardom.
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