Twitter has huge implications for businesses of every size and in every sector.
The enormously popular micro-blogging site presents firms with a range of new ways in which to keep in touch with customers, build their customer base, and monitor what is being said about their products.
Sadly, though, the majority of businesses simply use it as another broadcasting tool. But with a bit of creative thinking, you can make Twitter work for you in a unique, exciting way.
Use it to focus group
Twitter can be used as a fantastic sounding board, allowing you to get opinions on products or services.
There are many ways in which you can achieve this. You might, for example, try to keep in touch with your existing customers on Twitter, and regularly find out how they are getting on with the product or service that they have purchased from you. But you could also consider putting together a ‘focus group’ of selected Twitter users and seeking their opinions on new ideas. This could work particularly well if you have something tangible to send out. For example, if your business makes cakes, why not ask your Twitter focus group for their postal addresses, send them your latest creations, and ask them to livetweet their reviews at a certain time? You can all keep track of responses with a hashtag.
Use it to spread discounts
The music industry (traditionally hesitant when it comes to new marketing methods) has been remarkably forward thinking when it comes to Twitter. The Tweet For A Track service is a good example of this. Artists can sign up to the service and upload a track. Twitter users can then download it for free, in exchange for a tweet. This can be a highly effective form of viral marketing, and can help to introduce new fans to an artist.
Consider ways that you can use similar techniques in your business. For example, retail business might choose to offer a discount to Twitter users who send a tweet with a specific hashtag, and pubs might give a free drink to those who retweet something.
Use it as a customer service channel
Twitter is as much about listening as it is about broadcasting. Make sure that you are monitoring Twitter for mentions of your business or brand. This can help you to keep up with what your current or potential customers are saying about you, and can help you to ensure that problems are addressed quickly.
There is a range of tools you can use to monitor mentions of your brand, ranging from Twitter’s built-in search tool to paid-for social media monitoring services like Radian6.
Use it to keep track of competitors
As well as ‘listening’ for mentions of your own brand, make sure that you keep up what your competitors are saying – and what is being said about them.
At the very least, you should make sure that you are following your main competitors, and that you are aware of their social media strategies. Are they engaging with customers well? What can you learn from them? You might choose to set up a separate account if you would rather not be seen to be following them.
In addition, though, you might choose to be more pro-active. For example, if you see users complaining about a competitor, why not approach them directly, explaining how you can meet their needs?
Use it to stay local
Twitter is, of course, a worldwide communication medium – but, while it allows you to keep in touch with people on the other side of the globe, it also helps you to keep up with what’s happening on your doorstep.
If yours is a local business, consider monitoring key terms and hashtags like the names of towns or businesses in your area. This will help you to understand what residents are doing – and it will enable you to target your activities more effectively.