Fortune 1000 companies are using Twitter to deliver a new variety of online customer support and customer service. Benefits include improved customer service and satisfaction; direct engagement with consumers; improved perception of the company and its brand; and positive coverage in the mainstream media for companies willing to do business in the public eye. To be successful on Twitter, companies need to understand the types of communications best suited to the medium; how to staff their Twitter accounts; when Twitter may not be the right choice; and how to set reasonable expectations for results.
TWITTER GAINS MOMENTUM AS MEDIUM FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND BRAND AMBASSADORSHIPHundreds of companies in a wide array of industries and markets, such as media, information technology, automotive, hospitality, air travel, apparel, and financial services, have created accounts on microblogging site Twitter and are engaging one-to-one with consumers using a variety of communications models.Hundreds of companies have a presence on Twitter. GM, jetBlue, Zappos, Popeyes Chicken, Dell, the New York Times, Home Depot, Starbucks, and Bigelow Tea are among the growing list of companies (see endnotes) using Twitter to engage with consumers. They are using a variety of models, but most prominent uses include customer service and support, and brand ambassadorship.With over 3 million users and an ecosystem of supporting sites and services, Twitter is currently the leading microblogging platform. Twitter has over 3 million registered users. Information posted on Twitter reaches an extended audience via its own support for SMS, IM, and mobile clients; and through its API which has been incorporated by hundreds of third party services like Twitpic (image posting), Friendfeed (a social network activity aggregator), and Facebook (where Twitter updates can be automatically posted as Facebook status updates.) Third party mobile clients are also available, including support for Blackberry and iPhone.
COMPANIES CAN ACHIEVE POSITIVE RESULTS WITH TWITTER, BUT SHOULD BE AWARE OF NEW OPERATING PRINCIPLES FOR THIS EMERGING CHANNELTwitter is the “online conversation” concept made real for corporations. In 2000, the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto identified the global “conversations” taking place on the Internet and the need for companies to join in and make a positive contribution. While this may seem like an abstract concept, it is an important one, and companies need to understand how to use Twitter to leverage this dynamic.Companies with a presence on Twitter will be able to better “listen” to what consumers are saying about them, and to positively affect their brands. There’s no such thing as “opting out” of these conversations. Your brand is on Twitter, and elsewhere, regardless of whether your company participates or stands idly by.
This slide illustrates both Twitter’s network effect (note that through my 1956 followers I have the potential to reach close to 2 million people) but also the power of the Twitter ecosystem.
Twitter is appealing to consumers as they can often talk to favorite celebrities like Penn Jillette, Henry Rollins, and others. They can also talk to Notorious B.I.G. who, unfortunately, died in 1997, almost a decade before Twitter’s launch.
Twitter: Simple, Powerful, Web2.0 Customer Service &Marketing ToolJoel PostmanPresentation to Forrester ResearchOctober 23, 2008