While I do have professional experience using Twitter on behalf of a company, I’m choosing to share my experience as a consumer. When I first started using Twitter, I had a natural inclination to start following popular brands for products that I consume, (@CocaCola, @Starbucks, @Nordstrom, @Groupon to name a few). Not long after I started doing this, I saw something really cool happen: local company Twitter handles started following, and conversing with, me. What a novel idea!
If one of the main points of Twitter is to have conversations, what better way to achieve this than by having more focused Twitter handles who can better manage and converse with local followers and customers? I was starting to get replies from @GrouponSeattle and @NordstromSEA. Now I could really know what was going on at my local level, as well as feel connected and listened to as a consumer. One of the coolest trends I’ve started seeing through Nordstrom, is when store employees also tweet latest trends and local happenings. I know who to go to when I’m looking for the latest outfit, thanks to @NordySanda! And she found me after I tweeted out a question one night, wondering what the best shoes to wear when traveling and flying were. (Another blogger agrees with this concept: Nordstrom Does Twitter Right).
Most importantly, I think businesses should do their best to listen to what customers are saying, and get involved in the conversation. If a company doesn’t have time to keep up with its customers, then why bother having a Twitter account? In the end, when customers don’t feel listened to, they become more disgruntled than if the company hadn’t had an online presence and outlet in the first place. Likewise, while a company may not be able to solve their problem via Twitter, feeling listened to often goes a long way with a customer and keeps them from spreading negativity.
I’ve gotten the sense that many companies have hesitation around having an online presence; for fear that their costumers will start ranting and raving when something goes wrong. Well, let me offer some advice to those companies: customers are going to rant and rave anyway, you might as well listen to what they have to say. By listening and responding quickly, a company can often (though not always) put out fires before they have a chance to really grow.
Smaller, more localized companies, should also consider having a Twitter account. Some local Seattle eateries have found great ways to connect with customers; Pie (located in Fremont – @sweetnsavorypie) uses Twitter to tell its followers which flavors of pies they will be serving on a given day, since their menu is always rotating. Gordon Biersch (located in Pacific Place, downtown Seattle – @GBSeattle) offers its Twitter followers special deals if they mention Twitter. Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (multiple Seattle locations – @MollyMoon) tweets to let their customers know where their mobile ice cream truck will be on a given day (forget the days of the nostalgic Popsicle man truck song, future generations will be finding the popsicle man via their cell phones).
Aside from keeping customers up-to-date on upcoming events, Twitter is a great place to get ideas. What better way to know how to better serve your customers, than to listen to them!