Most of us are familiar with Facebook. Yea that website where you track down a long-lost high school mate or inform people that you are in a relationship but it’s complicated. Don’t mind me, that’s not all that Facebook is about. There are also some wonderful features on Facebook too like the Pages where you can market your product and so on. But we are here to talk about “Twitter” and how SME can maximize it to help reduce their overhead cost.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online social networking service and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages. Twitter is a free service that allows you communicate with the outside world in 140 characters or less.
According to Wikipedia, Twitter has over 500 million active users as of 2012, generating over 340 million 340 million tweets daily and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day. (That’s 500 million people to market your product to free of charge with the right set up).
Registered users can post messages which is generally called “tweet” or “twit” through the website interface, SMS, or a range of apps for various devices. A tweet can either be directed to another user or generally (both being publicly viewed).
What do I need to use Twitter?
1. An email account
2. A username and a password
3. A mobile device or a computer
4. Internet or Network coverage for SMS
Some of the benefits of having a twitter handle are as follows:
- Reduce manpower
- Proximity to the customer
- Networking with the World
- Listen and learn from your Customers
- Advertise to world at no extra cost
- Enhance productivity
Tweet: a message posted or sent on twitter
Handle: this is an identifier which precede the username e.g. @complabng. This could be your company’s name.
Follow: this is simply the act of literally following a person of interest. Once you are following someone, you will be updated with post sent by them or when they are mentioned.
Replies: this simply means someone replied directly to your post. This is visible to the public.
Retweet: this is the act of republishing someone else’s tweet. You can also add your comment while retweeting.
Direct Message (DM): this is a message that is sent directly to you only. To send a DM, you have to follow the user.
Hashtag: are words or phrases prefixed with the symbol #. The #symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet.
Ways to engage twitter for business use.
Customer Care Service:
The traditional customer support was to have customers come down to your office, send a mail or call a number. Most companies now have Twitter handle to connect with the customers. For the past few months now, have been communicating with MultiChoice via their twitter handle i.e @DStvCare and @DStvNG.
Before now, I would have to call the customer care number and endure the adverts and annoying voice prompt but with twitter, it’s almost face-to-face. Also MTN Nigeria, one of the largest telecom companies in Nigeria just launched a twitter handle (@MTN180) to resolve customers’ queries.
For SMEs considering the possibility of exploring twitter for their customer support here are a couple of ideas and handful tools that might make the task of providing service from your company a little easier than sitting at your desktop.
a. Create an account for the company’s customer support e.g @shop4less
b. Next step is to set up searches for comments about your company, brand, product and monitor them using any of the following free 3rd party apps Tweetdeck, HootSuite, CoTweet, GroupTweet to mention a few.
TweetDeck gives you that desktop dashboard feel. It also helps you to set up searches for key terms and respond directly to them.
CoTweet is built for the company that wants to both serve and engage new prospects. Advisable for companies that need to have multiple people responding to queries on the same account.
GroupTweet is not geared at customer service but can be used to send a tweet to a group of people you designate. This could be deployed as a customer support tool where you already have a database of your customers.
Ubersoc gives you the ability to say more by allowing you go beyond the 140 characters allowable by twitter.
Listen and Learn
A tweet is similar to your traditional SMS or Email with you having to limit your message to the 140 Characters or use 3rd party apps such as Ubersoc. With your twitter handle, complaints and enquiries can be resolved within the shortest time. Companies can get feedbacks on products and service.
Reduce Manpower and Ancillary Cost
With your company’s presence on twitter, you can have one or two personnel to man your twitter account. You can even decide to manage the account yourself (in a case of a sole enterprenuer) thereby eliminating the cost of employing someone to manage the account. You also do not need to acquire an office space for your customer care team. A smartphone, personal computer or a tablet (mind you not the ones you swallow) can be used as your mobile office.
Advertise to the WORLD!
Imagine being giving the opportunity to stand in the middle of the pitch and sell your product, brand or company during the halftime of a Champions League or NFL match (that’s an estimated 180 million viewers). Now imagine having a platform like twitter with over 500 million active users to advertise to. Brands like Adidas, Nike, Dell, Puma and so on use it so what are you waiting for. SELL! SELL!! SELL!!!
So why not give it a try.