Customer Conversations on Twitter Are Good Brand Management

Dell Social Media Listening

In digital media, listening is so much more than monitoring.

Knowing what you're listening for is half the battle, and the first ingredient in most practice. Knowing when and how to respond is more than good etiquette. It's become an integral aspect of brand management and can mean the difference between a flop — or worse, a crisis — and a deposit in your company's reputation bank.

It's easy to dismiss Twitter's usefulness as a tool.

That is until you figure out that on Twitter you can find mentions of your brand and you can actually connect with customers directly and provide a first line of response. In 140 characters, you won't be able to do much more. But don't underestimate the importance of that public gesture.

How to use Twitter for customer service

Twitter-social-iconsMany companies started integrating customer service on Twitter. This list I created is purely for customer service, but there is another important aspect of customer support, which is why in many companies there is a community evangelist role carved out.

There are also individuals who opted into community builder roles — some in official capacity for an organization, some because that's who they are. Go ahead and promote your many customer support people on Twitter by creating a list.

Twitter is ideal for customer service because:

  • You can respond to a customer question or complaint immediately after seeing it without needing to have all the facts – take the problem solving part off line. Monitoring and responding is lightening fast, and right now it will cast you in a good light, especially if your normal customer service channels are in need of repair.
  • You can be proactive and let your customers know where to find you – I started a list linked above, let me know if you'd like me to add your company's team to it. This will ease some anxiety over which number to call or being on hold. Provided you don't take two days to get back to them as I described here.
  • You provide the added bonus of good service/product stewardship, which in turns creates a nice halo for your company and brands. Let's face it, Twitter is the most social of social networks. People have the opportunity to humanize the brand experience over time by being helpful and personal. I do wonder if companies are developing Twitter scripts?

Your customer service in social should be fair, not special. Your team should be integrated across the spectrum of communication tools your company uses.

How do you track tweets?

There are many tools you can use to track customer conversations on Twitter. For free, you could:

  • Search for key terms or your company name with Twitter Advanced Search
  • Build a Yahoo! Pipe (watch the how to video here) – here's an example of how uses the tool
  • Get email Twitter alerts with TweetBeep
  • Use TweetScan to search for key words combined with a user
  • Test drive monitoring up to three key words in real time with Monitter
  • Distinguish positive from negative tweets with Twitrrater
  • Get sentiment, top links, and influencers with Twazzup
  • Look up who's following you in TwitterKarma
  • Try Twittervision to see the global nature of this tool
  • Look up daily top influencers on Twitterholic – expect to see more tools on influence
  • Find and filter content by influence with PostRank
  • Find out how many times a term was mentioned with TweetVolume (back in beta for improvements)
  • Set up Google Alerts for the terms you want to monitor – you can route them to your email, or your RSS reader
  • Use the Twitter version of alerts, twilerts, delivered to your inbox
  • Use Social Mention for alerts on social media sites
  • Use Hashtags to learn what's happening right now
  • Search what's bussing on Twitter in real time with Twitscoop
  • Set up search term columns on Hootsuite
  • Track conversations and terms with your team and co-Tweet
  • Find a list of regular chats on Twitter

As it's the case with tools, your objectives will determine which ones are most useful to you.

Online monitoring is broader than Twitter. WebWorkerDaily pulled together some advice on how to make a monitoring dashboard to track online conversations. As Dawn explains, the real magic is in the content you're monitoring – your strategy and goals should come first.

For a fee, and for more than just monitoring on Twitter, you can utilize (order indicates from more cost effective to pricier to pricing not available):

  • SpoutSocial – is a social customer relationship management tool that provides analytics and reporting
  • Viral Heat – provodes analytics: statistics, influence, sentiment, viral; human intent
  • UberVu – shows social mentions for all streams; analytics: volume of mentions, share of voice (over social network), accounts tagcloud, number of RTs and checkins, top languages
  • Beevolve – analytics and reports include automated sentiment and tone, demographics, influencers and identifying trending issues and themes. The premium package includes advanced features
  • Actionly – for tracking sentiment analysis, competitive analysis, Facebook and Twitter analytics
  • Argyle Social – publishing workflows and integrated analytics
  • Trackur – tracks sentiment, mentions, % increase/decrease in mentions, results sources, most active searches, trending keywords
  • Lithium – web-based application that tracks social media and provides you with data on sentiment, trend spotting, buzz trend, share of voice, email alerts, customer rants and raves, as well as a platform to coordinate your response, assign tasks, add comments, and share product and marketing ideas
  • Spredfast – a social customer relationship management tool that combines listening, publishing, managing and measuring social activity all from one system
  • Collective Intellect – multi-dimensional analysis, blended qualitative and quantitative analysis, demographics and psychographics analysis; semantic engine is specifically designed to analyze large volumes of unstructured data, like social media, surveys, customer service data or any text-based resource
  • Sugar CRM – for lead, opportunity, and account management and campaign management, email marketing
  • Attensity – analyzes ongoing relevant conversations about your brands, products, competitors, and more, identify influential opinion leaders and sources, understand sentiment and issues, and keep on top of industry trends
  • Spiral16 – for monitoring, collecting, and measuring the social media conversations, semantic analysis, conversation sentiment, and visualizing data in a 3D mapping so you can better understand the hubs of influencers (based on linkages) and how a message is potentially being spread
  • Alteriam SM2 -for sentiment analysis (brand reference, content tone, emotion); daily volume, share of voice, competitive tracking of topics, demographics, author tags alerts with map overlay
  • BrandsEye – for monitoring online reputation and tracking negative sentiment
  • Sysomos – to detect sentiment, crate user-defined dashboards, text analytics for monitored topics, list of key influencers, up to 3 filters per data to drill down (age, gender, location, sentiment, time, competition, and topics)
  • Cision – for themes, topics, trends, influencers, sentiment and how they compare to the competition
  • Radian6 – which allows you to set up a dashboard to monitor mentions across sites and tools and shows you brand sentiment, along with location, and integrating with WebTrends and
  • NM Incite – leverage social media as customer insight channel, helps you identify – in near real-time –brand threats and opportunities, customer service issues, helps optimize messaging and touch points, based on customer feedback
  • Vocus – used to find influencers, tracks sentiment and tone, monitors Twitter in real time, analyzes online reputation
  • Cymfony – collects all forms of content, organizes and categorizes it, and provides a powerful but easy-to-use interface with data visualization and discovery features that allow you to gain valuable insights from selected discussion most relevant to your brand
  • TwelveFold – formely knows as BuzzLogic, this a technology platform helps with content relevance, measuring the impact of your media, and delivering insights into trends, themes and opportunities related to your brand and marketplace
  • RapLeaf – helps you understand your customers better, simplify online media planning, enhance customer databases, and manage fraud risk

This list should be a good start and it's by no means complete.

Customer service = brand management in social media

Social-Network-Issues-ToonMore and more companies are discovering the power of being first line responders on Twitter for customer issues. There are many examples of great brand management through customer service. Matt has aggregated a few.

Here's a list of top customer service accounts on Twitter.

If you think that one customer with two followers may not be all that important, think again. Analysts and journalists are increasingly participating actively and may pick up on a random conversation – all of a sudden, you could have what we've come to call the Streisand Effect.

So don't jump to rash conclusion. Instead, jump on Twitter and join the customer conversation. Even if your customers are not there yet, chances are that those who talk about your company and brand on Twitter will come up in search – as in search engine search [hat tip Louis Gray].

Plus, you could start from a less than ideal position and turn things around to the point that your company develops a well though-out Twitter strategy, complete with customer segmented offers like Dell did. This is a question I get asked often: What makes Dell so special?

By reaching out from beyond the shop floor, Dell took control of its promises and started to close the brand dissonance gap. That is good brand management — and good business.


[image by Theron Conrey]

[updated from blog archives]