Talking Back with Twitter

One of the cooler aspects of Twitter is that it gives consumers a direct line of communication with everyone from big brands to small businesses. It also offers them a chance to talk back when they have a question, concern or complaint. And many of us do just that. But how often do we actually receive a response back?

A recent study* indicated eight in 10 Twitter users surveyed worldwide said they thought the answers businesses posted on Twitter were at least as trustworthy as those from regular people, and about six in 10 said they wanted businesses to respond to them on the microblogging service. Clearly this shows that twitter is more than a nice-to-have for businesses it is becoming an important means of real time conversation with customers.

Actively engaging with your consumers can not only increase your awareness of what’s being said, but also affect people’s buying decisions. According to *Compete Pulse, Twitter is more effective at driving purchase activity than Facebook. 56% of those who follow a brand on Twitter indicated they are more likely to make a purchase of that brand’s products compared to a 47% lift for those who Like a brand on Facebook. This is further evidence that marketers can drive ROI with Twitter by engaging followers through compelling content. See the chart below for more details on usage outcomes across Twitter and Facebook.

While there are brands out there that have a great process in place, a lot of businesses are falling short. One reason I suspect this is happening is because businesses only pay attention to their @ replies and #hashtag mentions, and are missing out on a lot of valuable conversations. This may leave the consumer feeling unappreciated and ignored which is bad for business. So what can be done to prevent that?

There are a few easy solutions. The first is doing a search query for your business name on twitter. Any tweet in which that query is included will appear in order of most recent. This method however is manual and requires that someone remember to do it.

Another, more efficient method, is to use a platform like *Seesmic that allows you to setup a query-specific timeline that will automatically populate whenever anyone in the world includes that query in their tweet. This allows the business to know exactly when anyone uses their name but does not @ reply them. But don’t forget to include common negative keywords, to ensure you are capturing all that is being said about your brand, not just the positive comments.

How would you convince your client to get into the conversation, and go one step beyond looking at their specific @mentions?