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December 17, 2011
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As the Internet continues to grow, businesses are understanding more and more that they can't afford to ignore social media. Conversations about their brands and products are happening online through outlets like Facebook and Twitter. The simple fact is that it happens with or without you, so you should be there.

Much like Facebook, Twitter is a growing force in marketing. While not nearly as large as Facebook's audience, Twitter can have a much greater reach because of the nature of the system--Twitter posts are almost entirely public. In this way, Twitter can be a powerful tool when trying to broadcast information.

Still, it can also be used for customer engagement. In fact, it can be a fantastic resource for finding customer complaints. JetBlue, for example, is expert at this. It is relatively easy to scan the system for mentions of your company and head off disasters before they get out of hand.

I recently watched a customer service disaster unfold on Twitter. A customer of a local Boston burrito company (or, a BOston LOcal COmpany) found an unwanted ingredient in her burrito. So she tweeted about it with a picture of the incriminating critter.

If a customer finding a bug in her food and not feeling as though the staff was adequately apologetic is not bad enough, her story was read, retweeted and commented on several times throughout the afternoon. Fortunately for Boloco, the company's CEO John Pepper actively monitors Twitter and responded immediately to the tweet. By the end of the afternoon, the story went from "How could a company serve bugs?" to "What a fantastic response to a customer problem from Boloco."

This example is the long way of illustrating the benefits of being there. This conversation about the bug burrito was going to happen with or without Boloco. Since the company actively monitors online conversations, someone could step in and change the dialogue. If the CEO of the company wasn't around, the end story would have been potential customers avoiding the shop because of bug fears.

Still, the same methodology applies as with Facebook. Twitter is a marketing tactic, not a strategy. Keep a clear mind of what your goal is for Twitter. (Hint: Your goal shouldn't be phrased in number of followers.) It is also important to remember the distinction between Twitter and Facebook. It is more acceptable to use Twitter as a one-way conversation than it is for Facebook. There are less obligations to respond to Twitter messages opposed to discussions that occur on your company's Facebook page. It is still better to respond, but the Twitter world's attention span is much shorter. Twitter is much more ephemeral than other resources.

 

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Jeff Francis is a marketing geek who would never refer to himself as a guru. He is that weird sort who enjoys watching commercials and analyzing communication strategies. He is also available for hire and would love to hear from you. So, head on over to the contact page and get in touch.


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