Monday 14 January 2013

Monitoring Twitter For Customers And Conversations

The most common mistake businesses make when using Twitter is to treat it like a one way conduit - a loud hailer through which information can be disseminated to followers. It's easy to forget that there are two parts to the social media concept. The "social" is just as important as the "media". Twitter is not the online equivalent of posting a flyer through a letterbox. It's all about conversations.

Finding the conversations

Without engagement, few social media campaigns will succeed, and the secret to engagement is to start by listening. What is your market talking about? Once you know that, you can work out what can you bring to the party.

Tip #1: Try searching Twitter for terms related to your industry. Follow at least a dozen of the most influential Twitter accounts and check the feed regularly. You'll soon get a feel for what people are talking about and retweeting. If you need a little help finding out who the big guns are, try entering the same terms on

Plenty of other handy social search tools are available for free. Try and to get started.

Tip #2: Twitter plays host to specialized conversations marked out with hashtags. Some of these relate to offline events or webinars and others are scheduled, regular chat sessions.

For example, the tweets above are hashtagged with the name of the conference to which they relate. If you attend an event and see an #eventname hashtag, use it!

Tip #3: Particularly if you're in a B2B industry, using hashtags intelligently can be a great way to make friends and influence people. Don't just #hashtag #everything in your #tweets - take the time to seek out the right niches. Read and reply to other tweets that contain a hashtag of interest.

Seeking out new customers

You can also turn the idea of listening to your general market on its head and seek out individuals and organizations who are actively looking for help and advice. Look for the questions rather than the people.

The way we find information is changing, slowly but surely. Let's say you want to find a reliable plumber in your city. Some people might search Google, but the results that come up will be businesses who have done some good local optimisation for the term "reliable plumber". The SEOs are smart people but as for the plumbers, who knows?

The solution is to ask people you know for a recommendation, and social networks are increasingly used for this purpose. You might tweet "Anyone know a good plumber in San Diego?" and opt to trust real people rather than trust a search engine.

Tip #4: It's very easy to set up filters that catch relevant tweets. One way to do this is with TweetDeck - just add a new column with the search terms of your choice. The tweet above is an example from a simple searcher for "plumber" and a location term.

Of course, not all tweets contain a geographical marker, but tools like will let you set a location and search radius independent of the search terms. This would, for our plumbing example, pick up tweets like the one above, in the right approximate area.

In the main, Twitter is a public forum. There's nothing stopping a smart company from sending a prompt, helpful reply to that last tweet. Something like "Sure. One of our team could do that for you straight away" would be a good start, with a phone number to call.

Tip #5: Although Twitter monitoring can be an easy way to pick up new customers directly, monitoring for questions can also be a great way to demonstrate a helpful attitude and build up authority. Our model plumbing company could provide advice to those tweeting about problems with blocked drains, for example. A quick search there reveals dozens of possibilities similar to the one above.

Golden rules: be helpful or be interesting

When you start to monitor Twitter, the sad fact is that you'll see a lot of spam. Don't be put off, and don't follow bad examples. Seek out those relevant conversations, talk to people who need help and advice, and you'll soon distinguish your Twitter profile from poor quality rivals. Be helpful, be interesting, and remember to listen as well as speak.

About The Author: Jess Spate is a digital marketing professional. She writes for Smash Hit Displays, makers of environmentally friendly trade show materials.

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Related articles:
Incorporating Twitter Into Your Marketing Campaign
5 Essential Twitter Tools For Small Business
The 10 Basic Rules Of Social Media Marketing
Tips & Tools On How To Grow Your Twitter Following
How To Use Twitter For Business: 5 Tips For Twitter Newcomers
What Is Twitter & What Does It Do For Businesses?

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1 comment:

  1. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites can be powerful platforms for gaining new business if you use them as they were intended. Thanks for sharing Derek and Jess!


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