social media how toAre you marketing to people on Twitter? You know, pitching your wares?  Perhaps there’s a better way…

In this article I’ll present three ideas that will draw customers to you without that nasty marketing aftertaste.

One of the reasons social media is so valuable to businesses is that it offers a chance to show you’re listening.  As a result, you can gauge customer sentiment, turn prospects into clients and turn customers into brand evangelists.

Instead of looking for instant results in the form of sales, try looking for results on the other side of the spectrum, such as in customer retention and/or brand mentions.

These are the kinds of things that are easily measured and easily influenced. They’re time-efficient, and they’re the perfect use for that Twitter account you set up for your business.

How do you do it? You feed egos.

#1: Let Others Sell For You

Can you improve your sales numbers by throwing links out on Twitter? Sure, but I don’t think it’s the most efficient use of your marketing dollar. Marketing to people directly is not nearly as effective as letting your fans and customers market for you.

I much prefer to spend my social media dollars to bolster my community and create brand evangelists. They’re the best marketers I could hope for.

In these Tweets, each one is sending out a powerful sales message.

#2: Put Out Fires And Spread The Good Word

Dealing with customer issues via email, help desks or on the phone can really sap a company’s resources. Although these lines of communication will probably never go away, there are many cases in which you can put out the fire before it gets that far.

Unhappy customers will complain, and Twitter is one of their favorite places to do it.

However, the beauty of Twitter is that when they complain to the world, you can find, track and intercept that complaint before it spreads, often from the screen of a single employee.

Take a look at how a Domino’s manager did this with a video (brilliant!).

Just think about the impact of a complaint on Twitter. One complaint reaches thousands, which then gets retweeted to tens of thousands, ad infinitum. If you can put out the fire before it gets to the second tier, then you’ve not only kept a dangerous message from spreading, but you’ve shown that you care. At that point, it’s highly possible that the person complaining will tell his or her followers that you’ve responded, which in turn creates a message of goodwill.

All you’ve done is reach out and respond to a complaint.

These tweets highlight a fire needing to be put out. Notice the frustration just waiting to boil over.

#3: Responding Is Solving

People just want to know that you care. When I surveyed my Twitter followers for their expectations when dealing with companies on Twitter, they said that more than anything, it’s the response that matters.

Even if you can’t solve the problem immediately, the very act of responding and addressing the complaint proves that you care. That’s all people want, to do business with a company that cares.

If you can go a step further by routing the complaint to the correct department, then that’s a +1.

The trick for businesses using Twitter is not how you can get more followers so that you can sell more stuff, but how can you create more brand evangelists so that you can sell more stuff. That act of just being there, listening, engaging and hanging out will do far more than spamming your followers with links (if you have any followers left).

Trade Emotional Appeals for Empathy

Being successful on Twitter is nothing more than padding egos and making people feel good. Are you going to win every time? No, but you’ll sure save your company a lot of disruption by tackling problems before they become wildfires.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not asking you to trivialize people and their problems. I’m simply advising you to focus on the empathy instead of emotional appeals.

At worst, you spend a few dollars to solve problems. At best, you create loyal fans who will spread your message for you.

Make people feel good, and they’ll pay it forward on your behalf.

People don't expect miracles; they just want to know you care.

It’s Simple

To get involved, the first step is to let people know you’re out there. Next, set up groups and searches so that you can monitor the pulse of both your industry and your brand. Lastly, find someone who can spend the day hanging out with prospects, clients, and customers. Focus on reducing customer service costs, minimizing attrition and refunds, and turning complainers into evangelists.

It’s not about you or your company, it’s about making people feel like they matter. Do that and you’ll win almost every time.

What do you think?  Have you reached out to someone on Twitter? What do you really expect when you complain? Share the details with us below!

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  • ktatgenhorst

    I definitely agree with this post and I’ll share an example. I like to monitor different metrics about my social media and one I use is Klout. One week my Klout score wouldn’t update so I submitted a tech issue. A day passed with no response so I took it to twitter and mentioned it @klout. @klout acknowledged within thirty minutes and said they were tracking down tech support. Thirty minutes later I got an email from their tech saying they were tracking down the issue. An hour later I go an email asking me to see if my stats had updated – when I went to their “featured” user on the landing page was ME and my stats were updated. I put up a couple nice plugs for them, because I appreciated that they handled it and was amazed at the amount they went over on it. All that was good for them, the fact that I recount the story here is good for them and I have my belief in social media as a constructive, value add tool reaffirmed.

  • This post is a good reminder of what should be done. Thnx Nathan.

    I do want to elaborate on the example you used regarding Domino’s manager (and Dominos in general since their latest campaign was very socially …hmmm savvy or responsible? Cant decide yet 🙂

    Im seeing more and more companies do this. They are taking this genuine intention to help and be social and corporatizing it through promotional campaigns and social media efforts blasted via TV spots and wannabe viral content.

    Can you really take a good intention and create a corporate mission statement out of it? And while you consider that, keep in mind that every corporation’s first mandate is to make profit for its shareholders.

    My point is that these social media efforts perpetrated by large corps are nothing more than a balance sheet tipping in favor of social awareness. Remember in Fight Club when Ed Norton sez something like “if it costs less money to let people die due to mechanical failure than to fix a faulty part….” you get the idea.

    It will cost Dominos (and other corps) less money to be socially responsible, therefore they mandate social responsibility. Really? Can you really force someone (corps are people under the law) to be socially responsible? And if so, can you say that you are truly socially responsible if your responsibility is driven by profit margins? Thought for food :-p

    And now, a shameless plug for my own blog. Science of getting ReTweets

  • hi, very interesting and clear article. It makes us come back to the roots of social medias.Thanks !

  • Hey Nathan, I even tried that out for myself. It’s true that most importantly it’s the response that’s asskicking – people want to matter, and they want to be missed.

    And having other people promote your stuff is far more effective then doing it by yourself – and it’s an awesome incentive as well: Creating mesmerizing stuff that makes people want to share it.

    Got some gold nuggets out from this one, nize work

  • Nathan 3 great points. People selling for you is a real time review. you can’t beat that.

    Using twitter as your customer service hub is great, it let’s you see and deal with issues fast.. and that always makes people happy.

    The issue sometimes isn’t that bad, but the lack of response to that issue is what really pisses people I know from experience.. can you say

  • Yep, and that’s a free service too, which makes it an even bigger deal.

  • I won’t disagree with you at all. I’d argue that companies like Comcast that say they care really don’t care…it’s simply a matter of managing the balance statement.

    I said this on Twitter, someone replied and said “we really do care,” to which I replied “but do your shareholders?” and then nothing came back.

    Dominos gets it, and they know how to manipulate social media to get the results they want. They look responsible…it’s a win-win.

  • Sure thing Chris.

  • And that’s why networking is so important. Let your army do the battle for you while you manage from the top of the hill 🙂

  • My favorite example is Media Temple and more recently, Blue Sky Factory, both of which are on it.

  • lol..I guess they only care one response worth

  • mariposa2010

    Thanks for sharing. As always, I learn from your posts. FYI – I’ve named you to receive the “Prolific Blogger Award.” You deserve it!

  • Wow, I’m honored 🙂

    There are a lot of prolific bloggers out there, so just being included in the conversation is a privilege.

  • I have to agree, Nathan is showing up in all sorts of cool places, with some stupendously useful material. Like, I-can-use-it-right-now stuff.

  • I fully agree that these are very good ways to use Twitter for marketing. With 1&1 we have achieved very good results in (not only) Twitter-based support both in our homebase in Germany as well as in the US. Larger corporations with a strong customer base need to take into account, though, that moving to Twitter may also be a risk. To succeed, I have noted two major requirements: First, the back end processes – both technological and organizational – need to match the Twitter engagement. And secondly, the company needs to be ready for a possibly severe transformation process. This, because open dialogue on Twitter (but also on other channels such as support forums or blog) requires a degree of transparency that many enterprises will never have seen before. A key success factor for us definitely was full backing from our management board on this road.

  • Maxiosearch

    Nathan, thanks for sharing this advices!

    What I didn’t understand well is how do you offer others to sell your products. Can you explain that further?

    I will also place that Q on to see what others think about!

  • Great post. Some interesting points.

    Social Media is often about more than customers, it is about influencing the Influencers. Traditionally drug companies have been great at this form of marketing – customers need recuperation, get the doctors to push X, Y and Z. In social media, manufacturers of football training equipment can influence football coaches – 10 ways to use product X, how product Y improves skill Z, etc. – we can all show instances of how we have made this work.

    I receive Tweets on my industry direct to Tweetdeck and I am sure that many do the same. never underestimate the power of influencing a purchase through the “expert”. Twitter is great for this…

  • Great post Nathan, as Mars Dorian said; some real nuggets of gold. I think the Twitter as a resolution tool point really interesting. That’s going to be a challange for a lot of companys as that communication is not just with marketing it goes right across varios silos, customer service, tech support etc. Vertical companies will find it difficult to plugin in to this horizontal matrix

  • Having your customers promote you is brilliant! Which is why it’s important to keep your customers happy. If they’re happy, they’ll recommend you to all their friends–and to their friend’s friends…and so on and so forth. And consumers always trust friends first before any company. Aside from twitter, here are more ways to get others to promote you.

  • If it came down to what and how to use social media the right way, without turning people off, building fans and a community that reciprocate each other and get the word spread, this is probably one of the most accurate post I came across on this subject, it’s basically the strategy of the top twitter and social media experts, I use it everyday, and get this, sales, subscribers and signups naturally come in on their own, without direct selling. Provide value in your content and watch other people share it, they’ll buy on their own.

  • Following up on Megan’s comment..

    An interesting fact, I remember when I was on the BOD @TSANet Europe and we got these great stats on the effectiveness and impact of word of mouth. It is some years ago now but one great stat was that people are 20 times more likely to make a purchase decision on a trusted sources recommendation than they are on standard marketing information! This begs the question, are companies allocating their budgets proportionally using similar ratios: We wish! They could really unleash something extraordinary if they did.
    Nathan, your posts always get me thinking..brilliant!

  • Interacting with people is certainly the new level to marketing not only a company but yourself online.

    Everyone is trying to make a brand in the current world and I think places like Twitter, Myspace, Youtube, Facebook are the perfect medias for people to do this in. Interacting with people is key to business and networking, and Social Networking online means you don’t even have to leave your desk to do it.

    If you have a quality service then people will promote you and if you have a good customer relationship people will keep coming back to you over the competition. I think it is wonderful we live in a world that allows us to do this and especially with people from all over the world!

  • It is wonderful, I agree 100%!

  • Thank you sir! This is a great place to write because there is so much good info. I’ve got no choice but to bring my A-Game 🙂

  • I can’t speak for big brands, because I don’t work for any, but I suspect that this strategy works across the board. Treat people like people, and be part of the conversation…doesn’t get much more simple.

  • Your last point is very interesting. Are you referring to transparency from the top down or from inside out?

  • In the end, of course, the top management will decide on the corporate communication policy and style. A dialogue approach on Twitter – or other social media for that matter – is likely to cry for transparency. Customers will almost inevitably begin to ask why this and this problem has occurred (we’re an ISP and web hosting company with some 9 mill. customers), why the pricing is being developed one way or the other, or why certain product features are available in certain products or not. If you as a company are not ready to provide answers to these questions – a decision that has to come from the top – you are very much likely to fail. For us at 1&1, this definitely was the first step in what in my opinion will lead to severe cultural change – that at least in part has been induced by our move into social media. The interesting question of course is, if companies in the long run can continue running there business as usual at all without failing – something that I actually doubt. Transparency, by the way, is also a key element of our a Social Media Guidelines (link pointing to the German version, I can provide the English version upon request). And for us it was also part of transparency to publish these guidelines.

  • Thanks for sharing very good article I always use twitter, when someone starts to follow me I always respond immediately and thank them in return I follow them and check out what they have to say or offer.

  • Those are good ideas for using Twitter as its speed of information can be used for a business advantage.
    This holds especially true when someone has a complaint. All businesses should be on Twitter searching their brand names often as well as the @+twitterusername

  • Very good information. Hopefully this will serve to decrease the amount of spam out there, and increase the amount of quality responses that actually help people.

  • This a funny concept, but it stretches away form the norm which is a good way to stand out. Thanks for sharing.

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