Twitter is growing by leaps and bounds every day. By the last count Twitter.com had 58 million visitors worldwide during the last month. In addition, they just signed major deals with Microsoft and Google to supply them with a firehose of all Twittering Tweets.
You are only as good as the Twitter tools you have. Here is a brief rundown of the best Twitter tools for keeping track of your brand and interacting with your customers.
Brizzly allows you to control multiple Twitter accounts from the same interface without having to constantly log in and out. Some of the great features it offers that are helpful with managing an eCommerce site’s Twitter account are Groups and Saved Searches. Although Twitter.com offers the ability to save searches, it is much easier to skim through the results and answer them inline on Brizzly. The Groups feature can help you segment your follow list by category so that you can more clearly see what’s happening in your Twitter world.
Brizzly is in private beta, and can be accessed by invitation only. I have a few invites to give away, please leave your email in the comments for a free invite.
CoTweet is the Twitter tool of choice for many large corporations such as Pepsi, Starbucks, Microsoft and many more. CoTweet has some unique features that cater to companies with multiple people posting from a single Twitter account. Their core features are multiple Twitter accounts, multiple users managing a Twitter account, CoTags, saved searches, and scheduled Tweets.
From within CoTweet you can give access to multiple users to manage your Twitter account, the best part is that you can set up CoTags which CoTweet will append the initials of the person Tweeting to the Tweet. They generally add CoTags in this format “^MK”. This helps avoid confusion and helps your followers identify who said what.
CoTweet also allows you to schedule Tweets for a specific time, this is ideal for when you are unable to post manually but would like to keep your followers updated.
HootSuite has pretty much the same major features as the others, however it sports a more desktop like client interface with multiple tabs and columns for follower updates, saved searches etc…
A unique feature that HootSuite offers is the ability to auto post Tweets from an RSS feed. This is great if you have a company blog that you would like to automatically post the updates to Twitter.
All the above Twitter tools are web-based, TweetDeck is a desktop application that works on the Adobe AIR platform. Like HootSuite, it has a multiple column interface for easy following. The good thing about TweetDeck being a desktop application is that it has notifications built into it. It can pop up a message when your company is mentioned on Twitter.
What To Post
Having a great tool is only half the battle. How you use it, can impact your results in a major way. The best use of Twitter is to update with a mix of Marketing/Promotional tips, helpful tips, and interact with other Twitterers.
Post Tweets with special coupons, promotional content and deals exclusively for your Twitter followers. Give people a reason to follow you. Try not to post only promotional content and links to your site, make sure to include a healthy mix of other content as well.
Let your customer base see the human side of your company. Post small updates that may make someone smile. Talk about your brand and what it stands for. Post helpful tips relevant to your industry.
Interact with your followers and potential customers. Say good morning and help fellow Tweeple with their problems. Providing help to someone who is not a customer, may turn them into one. Become an authority in your industry.
Here are examples of companies using Twitter. Learn what you can should and shouldn’t do from them.
Woot posts links to their ‘daily sale’ every and blog posts on their company blog. They currently have over 1.4 million followers and they use this channel as a natural extension to reach their already loyal following.
Comcast says they care, and it seems that they really do try to help anyone who voices their frustrations with the cable provider on Twitter. They scan Twitter for anyone who mentions ‘Comcast’ and will reply and help you out pretty much instantaneously. There are the naysayers (that may be correct) who say that you shouldn’t have to go to Twitter to get customer service.
No post about Twitter and eCommerce would be complete without Zappos. When Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh breathes on Twitter 1.45 million people hear him. Aside from that, it is ingrained in the Zappos corporate culture to Twitter, they even host a mashup site where you can see all Tweets from Zappos employees.
A dollar spent keeping an existing customer happy is the best dollar spent on marketing your brand. Use Twitter to interact with customers to provide a satisfying shopping experience as well as to promote your latest deals.