Since Twitter became a great tool for business communication, I’ve been researching several ways that companies and small businesses in Africa can tap into its power to reach their customers and clients effectively. I’ve also been searching for brands that have adopted Twitter as a platform for their businesses globally.
My research revealed that huge global brands such as Dell (Computers), Ford (Cars), JetBlue (Travel), Whole Foods (Retail), Starbucks (Food and Beverage), Samsung (Phones) amongst others are using Twitter for business.
What is Twitter? How does it work? How can African businesses use Twitter effectively to reach more customers?
Twitter is a free micro-blogging platform that allows you send updates about what you’re doing (of not more than 140 characters) to a community made up of (but not limited to) new and exisiting customers and clients, as well as advertisers and sponsors. These people are called ‘followers’ and you can ‘follow’ other people as well.
Twitter is a public forum on the web, thus companies should have a public Web participation policy in order for their employees to post updates of what is acceptable and desirable to their community.
Top 5 Ways Businesses Can Use Twitter for Business
1. To communicate with customers
Companies that provide services such as airlines, travel agencies, hotels, etc can use Twitter to communicate non-official, entertaining discussions with their customers. They can also ask their customers/clients what they like to read and watch, listen to, or even what their travel experiences are.
Companies that are product-driven can run ask-and-answer sessions with their customers to find out what they think about their products (new and existing), what improvements can be made, what problems are they facing using them, etc
Companies can also have different twitter accounts for their different products. Then, they could have different employees in different units/departments handle these twitter accounts.
2. To react to customers’ feedback
Customers or clients always have complaints. Any company that doesn’t need or use customers’ feedback is not customer-focused. If companies don’t get feedback from their customers, they might lose their customers. Twitter accounts can help companies to get instant feedback at no cost from customers or clients.
A cost-effective feedback system will greatly improve the efficiency of a company. It will further help the company build their brand. Companies that start using Twitter now to connect with their customers will reduce cost, especially in this economic recession.
3. To update customers of the company deals and discounts
Companies can take advantage of the twitter community to post new offers, deals and discounts for their customers. They can also create several Twitter profiles for different types of deals and can and also participate in discussions of these offers with their Twitter-followers.
More information about these new offers, deals and discounts could also be found on their company websites or blog, thus they could use a link (with short url e.g. TinyUrl.com, Bit.ly) to redirect their customers who are eager for more information to their websites.
4. To offer an alternative customer support system
Providing customer/client support is very important in the CRM process. While there were several ways companies provide support, some of them have not been effective and efficient. For instance, getting connected to a customer care desk or personnel via phone on a Globacom network would take you between 20 to 30 minutes. That’s if you get connected at all, because perhaps all their technical support personnel are busy???
Granted, customers are not paying for the calls, but the time wasted just trying to connect could be used for some other productive stuff. That’s like waiting for 30 minutes on a slow internet connection only to access your Yahoo email account.
With a Twitter-based (friendly) customer service/support, companies can provide instant support to any customer without much hassle. They can even provide the customer support personnel’s name currently on duty and instead of using the company logo for the customer support Twitter account; they could use the real photo of the customer support person.
5. To post company news and events
Companies can post updates of their internal developments, company announcements, press releases, events as well as industry news and events that are relevant. They could also discuss this news with their Twitter followers. They can also provide updates to the news published on their websites/blogs as well as recent discussions on the website.
If your company is not using Twitter for business, then you are missing a lot. However, if your company is thinking about venturing into the Twitter community, it’s best to know how it works so you can use it effectively. It starts with defining a public Web participation policy and developing a platform interaction strategy.
As much as huge companies could use Twitter, small and medium sized companies in Africa can also use Twitter to build their brands. As Jennifer Van Grove at Mashable puts it:
Smart brands use Twitter in meaningful ways, and most of them use their brand name as a way to make sure customers can find and recognize them…No other medium gets you inside a business or brand quite like Twitter.
Is your business smart enough to use Twitter?
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