Five Twitter Strategies for Businesses

By Andrew Fox

If you feel like your company would have nothing to say on Twitter, consider the following approaches you can take towards Twitter content. While you should really figure out what your company’s approach and strategy towards Twitter (and social media in general) is going to be before launching those accounts, it’s a good idea to dip your toe in first and start your own personal Twitter account before launching a brand or business account. Communicating effectively in 140 characters is an artform, and practice most certainly makes perfect.

Customer Service
Large corporations such as Best Buy, cable companies, and airlines have all utilized Twitter for customer service to varying results. The abbreviated nature of Twitter does lead to some challenges in resolving consumer issues, but I personally have saved time by resolving entire cable issues with Time Warner Cable‘s Twitter Team while waiting on hold for their terrible phone reps. And, let’s face it: there is something terribly gratifying about tweeting something like “ACME COMPANY has the WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER” and having a representative from the company Tweet back and resolve the complaint with minimal time and effort. Then, with the “Thank you @ACME for making everything better” Tweet, you’ve successfully turned a brand detractor into a brand evangelist.

Sales
Using Twitter as a driving force in sales can have very successful results, just ask Dell. While you build up your audience base, you can extend your reach by hopping on hashtags such as #dealoftheweek, #dailydeal, or #sale to attract consumers who love a good deal but might not follow (or even be aware of) your brand. You can also incentivize Facebook fans and mailing list subscribers to follow your Twitter account with exclusive Twitter specials. Since it is almost impossible to post too often on Twitter, you may promote any sales, new product information, and links far more often than you could on channels where more than one-two communications a day is often frowned upon (your Facebook page, your email lists).

Crowdsourcing
Involving your consumers in a process can only lead to more engaged consumers. From picking a new label, to chiming in on the next flavor, from selecting next week’s cover to naming your newest product, the possibilities are almost endless when engaging consumers. Make your consumers really happy, and let THEM pick your next Twitter sale or even your next single release.

Had Netflix or Bank of America consulted with the public, they could have avoided the PR messes they found themselves in recently. The opportunities for product feedback and market insight are at your fingertips with Twitter – but beware. Twitter is also the Wild, Wild West of the internet, and when brands use a platform where they can’t control the conversation– like McDonald’s – they are often met with a backlash they weren’t expecting when their hashtag gets turned into a bashtag.

Drive Traffic & Awareness
Since Twitter is an information sharing network, it’s a no brainer to use Twitter as a company news source. New products, new release dates, new sales, new policies, awards, partnerships – basically any press release can be turned into a Tweet if you can distill your news into 140 characters.

Engage with Influencers
Twitter is where people go to hear from celebrities, journalists and more. It is said that a mere 0.05% of Twitter’s users account for 50% of the conversations on Twitter due to their large followings. And if one of them mentions your Twitter account handle to say, for instance, “I LOVE ACME. THEIR PRODUCTS MAKE ME HAPPY AND MAKE ME LOOK SEXY”, that is the sort of PR that money can’t buy. (Except for when it can, of course: Kim Kardashian was allegedly paid $10,000 per Tweet for tweeting about Ad.ly partners.). The opportunity to converse with editors, writers and other “tastemakers” on Twitter is an incredibly unique and powerful tool.

It’s up to you and your team to explore these various approaches to Twitter content and see which are a good fit for your brand – social media strategies are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Start slow and be ready to act quickly when the unexpected happens. Flexibility in approach and response are a necessity on ever-changing Twitter, and remember to keep your eye on the prize (whatever those Twitter goals you have set for your organization may be).