Twitter can be a great tool to provide customer service, network, talk to your customers and share your expertise.
But, when it comes to social media, I don’t believe that just because it’s there you must dive in…not without some thought and understanding.
It’s one thing to create a Twitter account because you love it and want to join the conversation – in which case, dive in! However, I know some of you aren’t so keen, but would appreciate some ‘food for thought‘.
When this comes up in conversation I like to rewind for a minute and start with these two questions:
- Are your ideal customers on Twitter?
- Do you have the time and desire to jump in and be part of the conversation?
Are your ideal customers on Twitter?
I compare Twitter to a giant networking event (or you may prefer “Party”), attended by people from around the world…this networking event is open 24/7, 365 days a year.
It’s also very popular. Twitter currently has 200 million active monthly users and 500 million total users. A quickly growing 21% of the global internet population uses Twitter on a monthly basis.
For most brands whose customers consist of the general adult public (such as Coca-Cola or Papa John’s Pizza), or even a popular sub-set (such as 19 – 35 year old, male, beer drinkers) – yes, your ideal customers are on Twitter. And yes, you need to be there, because yes, they want to talk to you.
When it gets more questionable is if you serve a niche market, or small town. In this case I recommend a little research.
If You Serve a Niche Market
If your [potential/current] customers are part of a niche, or highly specific market (ex. you cater to Physiotherapists in Canada), you’re going to want a rough idea of how active they are on Twitter.
Chances are, if a Physiotherapist is using Twitter they have mentioned this in their bio, like Ryan K does:
A great tool to search Twitter bios is Followerwonk. Simply type in your keyword and Followerwonk will find profiles of users who mention it in their bio.
You can also use the Twitter search tool to get an idea of the amount of chatter about your brand, or keywords.
If you prefer a more robust, and comprehensive, monitoring tool there is Salesforce Radian6 and many more.
If You Serve a Limited Geographic Area
If you serve a specific, and limited, geographic area and don’t plan to expand or reach out (ex. to travelers), then you’ll want to know if there is a lot of local activity on Twitter.
To get an idea, click over to the Twitter Search tool and type in your location (ex. Saint John, NB). On the upper left side of the results page you’ll see something like this. You can now view “People” registered in Saint John, “Tweets” about Saint John, or the “Top Photos” of Saint John.
This little bit of research will give you an idea of what your Twitter community looks like. So now I ask…
Do you have the time and desire to jump into the pool and get to know people?
Like a good workout program, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. You can’t expect to build a following by jumping on Twitter a couple times a week and shouting about why you’re the “right” choice for [insert what you do/sell here].
You need to become part of the conversation, and join in like you would at a networking event or party. Remember, it’s not about selling, it’s about relating…the rest will just happen because people do business with those they know, like and trust.
Soon, just by being there, and being part of the conversation, people will start striking up conversations like these (for example):
@BillysSeafood the pork schnitzel was amazing!
— @citadelgallery (@CitadelGallery) March 30, 2013
@kellylawson I can help you. When can you bring it? I dont have the glass in stock but i have a plan. Will need to see the phone first
— dany chiasson (@danychiasson) April 3, 2013
— Catherine lawrence (@RealFoodFolks) December 20, 2012
@mrhelmsteadt We’re roastin’ our Peru Norte Organic!
— Hampton Coffee (@HamptonCoffee) October 15, 2012
How valuable would it be to overhear questions like these?…
— Emily Stephen (@emilystephen) April 2, 2013
Can anyone recommend a good realtor – looking for houses in the Lake Highlands area.
— Marissa Delcambre (@mardelcambre) April 1, 2013
Can anyone recommend a good Vet in NW Calgary?
— Joni Pypers (@pypersj) April 1, 2013
For more inspiration (inspiration sparks desire) here are 4 great stories of companies that see big results for their business on Twitter (results justify time).
- Effing Oyster
- Local Car Dealership Sells Car Through Twitter
- Jackrabbit Janitorial
- Wells Fargo & Company
I’m curious to know your thoughts! Feel free to share in the comments below.