In March 2006, Jack Dorsey and Co. created Twitter as a microblogging platform for users to share their happenings with their friends and family members. However, it soon evolved to an epicentre of breaking news and events, and a place where companies embrace it to reach out Twitter’s 200 million users.
Notable brands such as Nike, McDonald’s, Dell and Microsoft have since been part of the Twitter family, and more companies are joining the list every day. So this question has popped to my mind “What brands use Twitter for?” In this post, I’ll discuss the 5 ways what companies use Twitter for.
1. Keeping Track What’s Being Said About Their Brands
Back in April 2008, Christofer Hoff flew Southwest Airlines from New Hampshire to Philadelphia and had an unsatisfactory experience. Not only that his flight was delayed two hours, his luggage went missing too. He ranted about it on his Twitter without addressing the tweet to @SouthWestAir, and was surprised to receive the following reply from Southwest the next day: “Sorry to hear about your flight –- weather was terrible in the NE. Hope you give us a 2nd chance to prove that Southwest = Awesomeness.”
Another quintessential example that companies are indeed keeping track of what’s being said about their brands on Twitter is local mobile phone service provider Starhub. Apparently, Hendry Taharudin’s tweet “ahh…starhub sucks like hell…“ was noticed by the StarhubCares Twitter team, and they responded to his frustration in a friendly tone in just 12 minutes! Just like Hoff, Taharudin didn’t send an @mention to @StarhubCares.
Similarly, your company can use search tools like search.twitter.com or desktop applications like TweetDeck to monitor tweets for branding and reputation purposes. Though it may sound a little creepy to “stalk” your customers, it’s important that your Public Relations team act swiftly and resolve customers’ displeasures. Don’t underestimate social media websites. People who use them are likely to hold sway over others. A single tweet by an unsatisfied customer could be read by another user at the other end of the world, and reach out to thousands of people.
2. Providing Customer Support
Bill Gerth oversees Comcast’s Twitter customer support issues by helping to solve customers’ problems, and improving the overall customer experience. Comcast previously had a reputation for appalling customer service, but soon after the implementation of the @ComcastCares support Twitter profile, the company’s branding image quickly got a positive boost. What makes @ComcastCares stands out from other brands is that their profile features the real person photo instead of the company logo.
The folks over at @DBSbank occasionally reply to issues raised by customers, some of which direct them to their customer service hotlines or dropping by one of their branches.
3. Giving Twitter-Exclusive Promos/Deals
In June 2009, Dell’s @DellOutlet Twitter account surpassed a significant milestone — $2 million in sales since it first began in June 2007. The account tweets out Twitter-exclusive promos, which offer huge discounts for Dell computers and products. It has been touted as one biggest success stories amongst big companies using social media.
Singapore Airlines, one of the top airline companies in the world, owns the @SQairlines Twitter account and had been tweeting good deals to customers since April 2009 but stopped doing so five months later. The account has since garnered slightly over 12,000 followers, and I personally believe that the company should make a return to its social media presence so as to reach out to their customers on Twitter.
4. Keeping In Close Touch With Customers
Listening to your customers is a golden key to success. In a bid to get constructive feedback from customers, Starbucks created the MyStarbucksIdea portal and @MyStarbucksIdea Twitter account in 2008. Through these mediums where community and customers converge, Starbucks customers can share ideas or suggestions they have about how to improve “the Starbucks experience”. This shows that the Seattle-based coffeehouse chain is making a huge effort to reach out to their customers and is actively listening to them to improve their business.
Singapore’s leading fashion lifestyle retailer TANGS keeps in close touch with customers on Twitter too. On their @TANGS Twitter feed, you can see them posting personal-like tweets to forge closer relationships with their customers.
5. Posting Company News/Updates
Google frequently updates its @Google Twitter feed with the latest news and updates from the search engine mammoth. Most of the tweets published link users to their respective Google blog — be it Google Chrome, Google Voice or Google Nexus.
Similar to Google, leading local online classified advertisements portal ST701, has the @ST701com Twitter account which posts news and updates from the company.
There are still quite a number of companies out there who choose not to adapt to the new social media culture, and that will be an increasing disadvantage as time passes and their customers gradually establish personal relationships with their rivals. Gone are the days successful businesses keep to themselves or their primary focus of marketing is conventional media. In today’s ever-growing technological advancements world and the fact that many people are actively using social networking/media sites, it’s crucial that brands need to be open and increase their social media presence. By forging a closer relationship with their customers, they are likely to support the brands and spend more dollars on their products.