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Sunday, February 07, 2010

What Every Business Needs to be Doing on Twitter - Listen and Participate

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter - for the last 18 months almost everyone has talked about the power that twitter can bring to the consumer yet many, if not most, Canadian businesses have not embraced this communication medium.  I truly believe this has to do with the perception that creating a new marketing channel will take effort and resources that don't currently exist within the organization. But, marketing shouldn't be the first reason you use Twitter.  Twitter is a communication channel and allows you to see, in real time, what consumers are saying and experiencing with your brand.

So what does this mean to a business or brand?  It means that, at least, you need to be listening.  The good thing is that many tools exist to make this an easy task - Twitter Search, TweetDeck, HootSuite for example - and you will have no problem setting up a search to see what people are saying about your firm and brand.

The next step will be to start having conversations with these consumers and either thanking them for the comments or trying to address the issue they may be having.  Only once you have listened and then participated would I suggest setting up an account for marketing purposes, taking these steps first will allow you to ensure you are engaging the consumers that are already talking about your brand and it will become another customer relationship tool in your chest.  As with many of the interactive medias the expectation is that it is a bi-directional communication channel not just a push of marketing content.

Twitter can and will continue to be a powerful tool so if you are not embracing it yet, setup your account today, start listening and begin to engage your customer base.  The conversation is going on and your participation will only elevate and build your brand.


Chris Long said...

I agree. It's very important for a brand to listen and join the discussion on social media instead of thinking of it as another marketing tool.

Last Tuesday, at CaseCamp, the ING Direct CEO gave a talk on their use of Twitter and why they did it. The big thing he said is it allows businesses to talk to customers and they can talk back instead of talking at customers. It's been hugely successful for them, they had a tweetup of 150 people in Toronto a few weeks ago.

With social media, people can easily let other consumers know about issues they've had with a company (and the negatively publicity can be huge, recent example is TTC). It's important for that company to join in that conversation to handle any issues and promote any good feedback.

Victoria Hughes said...

Agreed. Best reason to get a business on twitter is to open the doors for 2-way communication between clients/customers and business owners/decision-makers. Takes out much of the need for the unpopular customer service call centres that usually only result in long queues, and frustrating interactions. Reduces the time to get feedback communicated to upper management, as well as a huge potential for reducing call centre costs! All it takes is a leadership team committed to being engaged in the site, providing relevant and timely content, and responding to customer comments thoughtfully and promptly!