6 ways Twitter can help your business go beyond PR

Experts in lead generation, marketing and customer service discuss some of the best business uses for Twitter – from finding new employees and customers to helping existing ones.

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Indeed, Twitter “is a great way to collect ideas, feedback and opinions on your brand, product or the industry you're in as well as information about your customers themselves,” says Jodie Cook, the owner of JC Social Media. “People love being asked their opinion. It makes them feel valued and that you, as a company, listen to your audience. Furthermore, you can go about collecting information that can [help] shape your approach and decisions.”

4. Event marketing. “When you're looking to promote an upcoming event [say a trade show or conference], Twitter's advertising features allow you to target audiences that make up your ideal registrant and who live in or near the city hosting the event,” says Kyle Willis, chief strategist, N2Q Consulting. “Through Twitter cards, you can combine a photo, CTA [call to action] and short message all in a single tweet. And with retargeting enabled, you can continue to show those ads to people who've visited your website but haven't registered yet. Twitter's advertising rates are pretty low too, so you can run ads with any budget.”

You can also use Twitter to advertise upcoming Web or podcasts or live chats.

5. Customer service. “Many customers [these days] prefer to contact businesses on Twitter for immediate resolution to their issues,” says Susan Ganeshan, CMO, Clarabridge, a customer experience management company. “This saves them the time and hassle of looking up a phone number or email address and having to wait on hold – and it saves you money. Since neglected these customers become increasingly dissatisfied, aim for a process that enables response within an hour.”

[ Related: 7 ways social media can improve customer satisfaction ]

“We've transitioned Twitter to a customer service platform because it's extremely cost effective and our customers are already on Twitter,” says Leon Rbibo, president, The Pearl Source. “Customers have grown increasingly weary of automated, frustrating phone systems. Why put them through that pain? We're able to resolve issues on Twitter within a matter of minutes. This, in turn, provides brand loyalty. A happy customer who feels taken care of is one that is going to come back.”

“Twitter is [also] a great alternative to live chat,” says Mark Tuchscherer, cofounder and CEO, Geeks Chicago, a Web development company. “People love having the option of being able to reach companies via the social media networks that they spend so much on time each day.” 

6. Media relations. Use Twitter to “find the journalists and bloggers who are writing about your space and begin following them [on Twitter],” says Mark Karayan, media strategist, LEWIS, a global communications agency. “Listen to their conversations and jump in to add your knowledge, respectfully, when it feels natural.”

“Utilize Twitter for media outreach,” says Meredith Warren, social media manager, Idea Grove, a PR agency specializing in B2B technology. “Some journalists may prefer a tweet over a phone call. If you spot an active Twitter user on your media list, a personalized tweet just might be the best way to get their attention.” Just “don’t bother reaching out via [Twitter] if they haven’t posted a tweet in 6 months.”

“Twitter is a great way to maintain relationships with key media influencers and reporters,” says Sarah Hilmer, Communications, BetterWorks, the developer of goal-setting software for enterprises. “You can [use Twitter to] learn about their likes, dislikes, resource preferences and even writing style and humor by interacting with them, which gives you a huge advantage when you go to pitch them a story idea.”

This story, "6 ways Twitter can help your business go beyond PR" was originally published by CIO.

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