Twitter and Your Social CRM Strategy

Written by Brandan BakiJanuary 12, 2011

Many companies are adding twitter to their Social CRM arsenal and if used properly can warrant a lot of success. It’s easy to see the value in Facebook and blogging, but some people struggle in finding the worth of 140 characters.

Before you can start your customer contact, you need to understand the realm of Twitter, what is expected and ultimately, what works. After all, you wouldn’t just put any old text on a billboard. There is marketing and research that goes along with any advertising and tweeting should be no different.

What is socially acceptable in Twitter-land?

First off, who do you follow? That will change from company to company. Find your community and follow them. Show your followers that you care what others are tweeting. Follow all the industry leaders and hopefully they will follow you. Once your customers begin to follow, use your judgment on what might be best for you. You’ll want to follow anyone who involves themselves within the community even if they aren’t a professional. Isn’t that the whole point of the whole process; to listen to the people who don’t normally have a voice?

Why follow me? What are they expecting?

Next you’ll need to create your plan of action. This is when the fun begins and you actually get to tweet. But before you talk about how great you are, think about your customers. Are they really going to want to read another one of your commercials every day? Probably not. Here’s a list of actions that you should be performing:

  1. Be appreciative of your followers. They are choosing to follow you. Thank them for using your services or products. Retweet the great experience and the top quotes.
  2. Highlight the big days. Post about your specialties, sales, and discounts. Create anticipation for the next one, like Twitter-Tuesdays. Announce company anniversaries, history and facts. Tell them about your big community service or give them a special giveaway. Make “following” an action on their part.
  3. Tell everyone what you are doing. What changes you’re making or big jobs you’re completing. Tell them what “the next big thing” is and let them understand that you’re an industry leader. Start discussions based around useful hints, tips or tid-bits. Ask these industry revealing questions and listen. Respond whenever you can to these people and you’ll get feedback right away.
  4. Post media and lots of it. Twitter has allowed twitpics to become a seamless resource when posting. Don’t explain things that you can show. People would rather see it and you can save your characters for other things. Post twitpics as often as possible. Twitvids are not going to work for everyone. But the rule of thumb is always; the shorter, the better. If you’re going to do videos, make them into a theme, like a “10 second tip”. Give your community a reason to keep coming back and waiting for any load time.
  5. Welcome anyone directly involved in your community. This could be employees or stakeholders. Obviously, follow them and welcome them in. Congratulate and sympathize with your direct community. They will do a lot of the work for you if you make them feel that they are a part of the community and your company.
  6. Unemployment is high. You should care about that. People are using twitter to find jobs and that is an opportunity for you to sympathize with the economy, as well as find the perfect fit for your position. Post positions that are available and join in the job search communities.

RT, @replies and DM’s

Being an active tweeter in this attention deficit environment, means involving yourself in what others are saying. You should read everything you can when people are talking about you. Every mention should be read, but you don’t necessarily have to respond to them all.

You should RT (retweet) anyone who says anything perfectly. When it’s a quote or testimonial that makes you shine, just send it out for your community. You can also RT negative publicity if you can show how you are going to fix the issue.  Especially any big wig in your community. You need to acknowledge that there is a problem and take responsibility for it. People find a lot of respect in that.

When you are speaking about a person, always include their feed as an @reply. Never discuss something about someone and not link to them. You can also use this to thank people who may not have worded something so eloquently. People want to not only know that you’re reading but that you’re listening to them. Show change in your company with tweets.

Finally, DM’s (direct messages) are a little trickier. These are like your little email system within Twitter. You both have to be following each other so it most likely won’t be just a nobody. You should DM anyone who has major issues. Deal with them one-on-one and fix their situation. When your company has major flaws, you don’t need to hide them but you do need to deal with them immediately. The downside to twitter is that it allows others to air out your dirty laundry. But be active and turn it into something positive. You’ll also want to DM anyone who has won a prize so that they don’t post their address for everyone to see.

Okay, I tweeted….now what?

Now is the important part. Up until this point, you’ve just been providing some nice PR, but not really concrete CRM. There are four steps to remember:

  1. Listen. People are taking the time to say something about you or tell you something, so listen to them. A lot might be meaningless but that might just mean that you’re not tweeting the right topics to stimulate the conversation. Listen to what they are saying or else, what’s the point?
  2. Evaluate. You will have tons of positive data at your fingertips. You will have direct relationships with customers, clients and other community leaders. Evaluate what all of this means to you and your company. If people are only tweeting awful things about you, this should really be a red flag to you.
  3. Reply. You need to send out @replies, DM’s and RT’s. This let’s everyone know that you’re listening and being proactive. More importantly, this lets them know that you care. With blogging, tweeting and facebook, people say a lot of stuff. They want to know that someone somewhere is listening.
  4. Take action. Not doing this can be the downfall of your twitter experience. If people are tweeting about problems, you need to take action. You need to acknowledge issues and take action to change them. Take action and send twitpics to show it.

Extra things to keep in mind

Don’t retweet every time you’re mentioned. Tweets need to still seem important. Don’t let people feel like they can just skip following you today. Retweet things that are useful, relevant or even funny.

Have a personality when tweeting. People want to know that there is one real human behind all the words. They can tell that by reading. People will respond better when you have an identifiable voice.

Half of your tweets should be replies, questions and industry info. Only 10% should be self promotion.

I’ve heard of a 4/12 rule before and it’s something great to keep in mind. It says that it takes four interactions for a customer to remember and trust you. And it takes 12 interactions before a customer actually becomes part of your community. So, RT’s and @replies can easily give you those extra interactions.

Oomph is a good one that I’ve used before (also check out Twuffer and Taweet, I’m not making these names up). But there are several. SocialOomph has an auto-follow tool that will help you stay involved in your community. But you still need to read what your followers are saying about you.

Finally, tweet at least once a day, not including RT’s and @replies. You need one original tweet every day. Keep tweeting and stay relevant.

Twitter can do wonders for your social CRM but if you don’t listen, evaluate, reply and take action you’ll just be another 140 characters passed over by everyone. Be an industry leader and show that without following you, they will be lost.


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