Four easy ways to use Twitter for your business

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Twitter’s recent valuation of US$8.9-billion is of little surprise to those who’ve benefitted from the microblog’s capacity to gain brand recognition.

Companies across the world are using it, with the recent example of KLM being a case in point. The international airline focused on who was tweeting the company’s brand while waiting for flight departures. Lucky passengers received a gift-pack suited to their destination when their posts were spotted by the airline. As passengers checked in at KLM’s Foursquare locations, the airline used social networks like Twitter to find information about the passenger and provide a personalised gift that matched their interests and their destination.

The move was a great incentive for users to tweet about KLM, while spreading the brand and news of their travel plans. The benefits: happy customers tweet about their good experiences with the airline. The campaign, titled the KLM Surprise, was an exceptional way to get customers speaking about the brand. What is most newsworthy, however, is not just KLM’s success with the campaign, but the fact that it used a social platform with no entry barriers for entrepreneurs. Anyone can use Twitter.

Here are four ways you can use Twitter to boost your business, based on recent case studies where the microblogging service has been used successfully.

Find people who are already fans. As the KLM case shows, Twitter works best when happy customers are sharing their experiences. Focus on those customers and enhance their experience. The happier they are, the more likely they will spread the world via Twitter. Keep them happy by offering infomation on new products or services as well as great deals, events and information they will find of use.

As Schaffer Marketing Solutions explains, build targeted connections.

Engage NOW. Build a community by genuinely engaging with people without amking every tweet a direct reference to your business. Demonstrating that your Twitter presence is more than just marketing gives you a significant degree of authenticity which you might otherwise not have. Social media is primarily social, so conduct your marketing with this in mind while always keeping the real time immediacy of social media at the forefront of your strategy.

In one Twitter case study, Jet Blue airlines’ corporate communications manager Morgan Johnston successfully used Twitter to address customer issues, terming the microblogging site the company’s “kernel of truth” when it comes to finding out what clients really think.

The airline’s marketing department gradually found that “chatty posts and customer service assistance” led to more followers and even more engagement. On the other hand, the press releases and special announcements, associated with conventional marketing fell flat.

Going one step further, the key was evidently the ability to address issues immediately, even if one was not able to provide an immediate solution.

“Our routes mean we’re really susceptible to weather issues, so if there’s a rash of delays, I can say, “Heads up, everybody,” recalls Morgan, by way of example.

“When travelers have more knowledge, it helps them keep calm. That affects their dealings with people in the airports, which reflects back to them. It can change the dynamics in the airport, and that makes all of our lives a lot easier.”

Identify with Identities. Users who support you on Twitter also have personal images and values. Their tweets are likely to reflect that. So make sure you have identified with the core types of customers you have. Ensure your tweets reflect that so, in turn, those customers can identify with you.

Simply referring to breaking or interesting news can do that, depending on the type of business you have. Aim for something that makes your audience feel smarter and more informed, while sticking to the light-hearted tone which so suits Twitter. Running campaigns are also useful. If your company believes in a cause and you know your customer, go ahead and spread the word.

A simple example pointed out by MP Mueller, is SpiritHoods, a California maker of animal-inspired outdoor gear. The company gets it loyal customers – or tribe – together for online campfires. The company does this with contests, giveaways and feel-good donations to wildlife preservation groups.

Listen and engage your business, not just your customer.
In another case study, US company BestBuy allowed customers to use their own Twitter account to ask questions directly to @twelpforce. Any employee can provide answers using an @ reply during working hours. They then tagged their tweets with #twelpforce. Answers are sent through the @twelpforce account, which makes it possible for anyone to search for past questions and answers.

Twitter’s own business case study, which describes the above, shows that within months, @twelpforce provided over 38 000 answers to customer inquiries, with 2 900 employees signing up to provide those answers.

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