Twitter can be a minefield for businesses. Just exactly how do you use it? The value of using the service seems immediately apparent – accrue thousands of followers and plug yourself relentlessly, but is this really the way to use social networks? Kloodle doesn’t think so.
Twitter is a platform. It provides the user with a means of communication to the masses. Surely, this is a marketers dream? A huge audience at the click of a button, enabling you to get your message directly into the palms of thousands if not millions of people. The power is surely obvious, the maths simple! If you expose yourself to enough eyeballs, the customers and fans will come a-running.
Well, it isn’t quite that simple. It turns out that thinking of twitter of an expansion tool is backward thinking. Let me explain. Having thousands of followers, it is tempting to see twitter as a tool to expand the reach of your message. This results in the “push” thinking that a lot of people adopt when on the social media site – they push their message out to their followers. A more profitable mindset to take on twitter is a contraction one. Contraction means that, instead of expanding your reach, you are contracting it in order to focus on your individual followers – your potential customers.
Twitter has contracted the communication platform so that you can now have one on one conversations with the people that matter most to your organisation – the customers. Organisations who bypass this opportunity in favour of pushing their wares are missing the point. Twitter provides the feeling of a small village community on a grand scale. It is like being in an old school corner shop, but you can engage with the whole world as if they were locals. Your customers now have the power to make or break your business, and twitter allows you to put your customer care on steroids.
If a person has a bad experience with your organisation, they are able to sing it from the rooftops on their social media channels. You may think this is irrelevant, but you do not want to get into the habit of losing customers! If you have adopted the push mentality on twitter, you will miss the chance to placate this customer and look like an impressive organisation. The better way would be to engage in a conversation with this customer and provide customer care. Look at what the problem may be, provide a great solution and be caring!
The best twitter accounts are the ones full of engagement with customers. You will see a string of personal @ replies, getting involved with conversations relevant to their business and their customers interests. A customer then feel part of the organisation, that they are cared for and that they belong. Creating such a close customer relationship is unbelievably valuable. You have a fan for life then, and someone who will champion your brand as you have been caring and put their needs above all else.
Looking through some university twitter accounts we have interest in, there are a number of shining examples – Lancaster University has a plethora of @ replies and obviously engages with their students and potential students. They also announce news and updates sporadically, as required, informing their followers of the goings on at the university.
University of Salford also have a similar track record. Regular tweets include the question of “can we help?” directly asked to followers. Such care of followers is exactly what twitter should be used for, and providing this kind of help will be forever remembered by the recipient.
The University of Bath engage in exactly the same pattern of twitter conversation – just enough tweets to let you know what is going on at the university but plenty of direct tweets to followers . These tweets answer questions, solve problems, congratulate, commiserate and engage in fun and banter.
There are many more shining examples of great twitter use throughout the world of universities. Twitter provides a connection with stakeholders like no other tool, it is refreshing to see Universities embracing the ethos of the product so well. We just wish big companies would do the same when we have an issue with their products!