Sunday, July 13, 2008

These companies get it!

Recently after seeing a proliferation of spammers join Twitter, I wrote about Identifying unscrupulous twitterers and some ways to protect yourself from them. Unfortunately, during my research, I found many companies that exhibited the same behavior.  Twitter is a conversational tool that enables community of like minded people and fans.  However, many brands just see twitter as another channel for broadcasting their campaigns and pushing the message out. A simple monologue,hawking the latest item on sale or “cool ad”.  I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. Who is doing this?  Unfortunately, there is a long list.  Many well respected companies, large and small.  Companies like Amazon, Mountain Dew, Cruise West, and Wine Enthusiast.
Twitter provides companies with direct contact and engagement with their customers. On Twitter, brands can engage with their customers to learn what they like and what doesn’t work for them. Conversations happen on twitter and the smart companies are talking to their customers in a dialogue.
So which companies “get it” and are having conversations with their customers? Of course, there are the famous Twitter case studies about Dell, HR Block, Comcast, and Zappos.  We all know, love them and talk about them to prove that Twitter is a viable business channel that fosters deeper engagement and evangelism with our customers. The YouTube interview below between two Twitter friends, Rodney Rumford and Amy Worley of HR Block really illustrates the benefit and value of true conversations on Twitter.

In addition to these well known case studies, there are many other large and small companies that “get Twitter” and are having relationships with their customers. Saul Colt of FreshBooks uses twitter to reach out to his customers, not only for customer support and development of new features, but to plan tweetups with his customers whenever he travels. He listens for freelancers with billing problems and then he engages them. Intel has a number of employees on Twitter led by prolific twitterer Josh Bancroft as well as many product groups that engage in conversations with customers everyday.  And then there is Melanie Notkin, who just launched her company, Savvy Auntie, and has been using twitter and other social media for several months to inform customers, the press, and other interested parties about her underserved community and her solutions.  As a result, SavvyAuntie has jumped out of the gate with a successful launch that few companies have experienced.
So what are the best practices of all of these great companies using Twitter?

  • They don’t push their message.
  • They focus on the conversations by inviting, engaging, cheering and helping their customers.
  • They listen for the relevant conversations and then try to be helpful.
  • Their employees all speak in their own voice and personality.
  • They have more than 1 twitter account, usually a corporate account but also individual accounts.
  • And most of all, they are responsive.
Now if your company is thinking about joining Twitter (and you should), take some notes and learn from some of the good guys above.