How to Connect With Customers on Twitter

While there are some obvious pointers that work across any channel, from the phone to a letter - relevance, value, engaging style - the social networks can’t all be approached in the same way. It’s not just that most of us have used them for personal reasons and it can come as a shock that all that experience sometimes adds up to not much when you have to use them for business. It’s that they have their own identities - their own cultures, ways of doing things and their own etiquette's.

When you set out to communicate with customers over social media, you can’t treat the business-oriented, long-form-friendly Google + (Soon to be Streams) the same as casual Facebook. And Twitter is just as individual.

Twitter is the ‘quickfire’ social channel. A tweet is just a few words, so if you have news, often that’s where it goes. It’s a busy channel, and a noisy one, and your tweets will sink without trace if you’re not careful: a tweet has a half-life of less than 20 minutes.

So how should you utilize this channel?

1: Speak the language

Speak the language of Twitter, by using native features: likes, re-tweets and favorites. Don’t try to use Twitter like Facebook. Re-tweeting is the Twitter equivalent of curating content on your blog, so find suitable brands to follow and re-tweet often. But you need to speak the language of twitters too. Learn it by reading tweets so you’re prepared to fit in!

2: Show appreciation

While this isn't Twitter-specific as such, it does need to to be done in a Twitter specific way. Offer deals, discounts, special content, to your customers via Twitter. Yes, you’re showing customers that you appreciate them, but you’re also incentivising following you on Twitter, and your tweets are far more likely to be seen, liked and re-tweeted by followers.

3: Showcase your work

Twitter is really well suited to posting pictures with the tweet serving as a caption, using hash-tags to widen appeal and searchability. If your business doesn't result in many photo opportunities, that’s not a big problem. Your twitter followers will understand that, so use the channel to boast of problems you have solved for clients. This works best when you re-tweet your customers’ comments, which you’re far more likely to see if you follow them, so don’t forget to follow in return!

4: Don’t tell: ask, and listen

Twitter is the channel people turn to to vent. Ask customers, either in groups or specifically, to comment on your service or recommend improvements. People love doing both these things, and you get retweetable recommendations and feedback from the exercise.

5: Tweet often - but not too often
Because Twitter is noisy and fast-paced people think the best way to use the channel is to pour tweets constantly,but actually just 2-4 tweets a day is best.

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