Building Relationships with Your Customers Through Twitter
Companies that are new to Twitter may be somewhat intimidated by attempting to use an unfamiliar Social Media platform. The key to turning Twitter into an effective business tool is understanding that it is an excellent opportunity to connect personally with their customers. Genuine relationships built this way can result in the kind of customer loyalty money can’t buy. There are just a handful of things to keep in mind, in order to make it work.
Remember, this is a two way conversation
The goal here is engagement. You don’t want to just talk AT your customers, you want their feedback and participation. Relationships do not grow from one way communication, like television commercials. Ask questions. And when you get responses, acknowledge them. More and more these days, large corporations are hiring staff to just to monitor the company Twitter feed. Smaller companies may not be able to do that, but someone should be checking it regularly.
Deliver valuable information…and not just about your company
Certainly, your customers will be following you to hear about discount offers and flash sales. But there is only so much of that you can do. To fill the gaps in between, you can provide links or retweet others, leading to information you believe your customers will find interesting. If you sell sporting goods, tweet about sporting events, maybe links to discount tickets or articles about parking hints. Your customers will LOVE you for this.
Stay on track, though
You want to provide your customers with information they will find interesting or entertaining, but be careful not to stray too far afield. At all times, your content should be related to your industry. You don’t want to lose that unconscious association between who you are and what you do, in the minds of your customers. Rather, you want to be the first brand to come to mind.
And polite. It has been proven many times, that people prefer to engage with others who are positive. It is particularly crucial when communicating only in writing, with no facial expressions or tone of voice to enhance your words. This is why we have emoticons. If you think there is a chance your words may be misinterpreted, then send a smiley face along. Also, if a customer is being negative, maybe take a deep breath before responding. Remaining nice in response to negativity may be all it takes to turn their attitude around, as well.
Remember, you are talking directly to real people here. They want to talk back to real people. If you make a mistake, previous events have shown that the most effective way to deal with it is to acknowledge it, apologize and try to fix the situation. As soon as possible. People understand mistakes, everyone makes them. What your customers will not appreciate is an attempt to cover up or dismiss a problem, rather than a sincere apology and attempt to make things right.
Find your most effective Tweeting schedule
Not all of your customers are online at the same time, so you may have to try posting the same tweet at different times of the day, to see which receives the most response. Once you have determined this, try not to send out duplicate tweets too often. A lot of people find this irritating. If you find that you have significant numbers of customers at very different times of the day, you may want to consider prefacing the second tweet with “ICYMI”, which stands for “In case you missed it”. That will remind people you are trying to reach those who may not have been online earlier, and you’re not just spamming everyone.
Also consider the best times to launch campaigns, data from Constant Contact on optimal times for email marketing demonstrates that customers interact with industries and promotions for those industries at different times. If your business is in the restaurant industry data shows that reaching out to your customers/potential customers early in the morning on Monday’s is the best option, while for hotels early in the morning is still best but midweek contact is advisable.
Offer to help
Monitor Twitter for mentions of your company’s name. If someone is less than happy with one of your products or services, and you believe it is something you can help with, reply to them with an offer to try and help. Often, they will be flabbergasted, and they will think much more highly of you just for the offer. If you actually resolve their issue, the loyalty you gain may be immeasurable.
Go beyond Twitter
There are other programs, such as Hootsuite, which allow you to schedule your Tweets in advance and provides other tools for using Twitter effectively. Twitter itself allows users to get valuable engagement data about their account at analytics.twitter.com for free.
Keep your profile up to date
Remember, not everyone has heard of your company or knows what you do, so put that information in your profile. If someone likes one of your tweets, they can then click on your name to see what’s in your profile. Make sure they find all the information you want them to have there.
Basically, when using Twitter for business purposes, you just want to keep in mind that your customers are not only numbers on a page. Be the kind of company they will want to have a relationship with, and nurture those relationships once you are fortunate enough to create them.
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