Twitter Lessons from Businesses Big and Small

July 8, 2010

A few days ago on Zengage, Ben Kepes wrote about the different ways a business might approach Twitter, with some examples both good and bad. Like any tool, Twitter is only as good as the person — or in this case, the company — using it. Knowing why your business is on Twitter is crucial to using it effectively.

One great way to get your bearings as a business in this social media world is to see how other businesses are using it (especially those that are using Twitter effectively). While you may not have the same needs as Starbucks, you can definitely get a broader perspective by checking out their Tweets.

Search Engine Journal did a nice round up a while ago, describing some of the different approaches some bigger businesses take with Twitter. As they describe, it can be used to update customers of company deals and special offers. This is something Starbucks does really effectively.

tweet-starbucks

Because Twitter is a very informal medium, you can use it to get closer to your customers. PR speak doesn’t seem to work that well on Twitter; so businesses can let their hair down a bit, show some humor and personality. This is something Southwest (not surprisingly) does well.

tweet-southwest

Customers use Twitter to ask questions and post feedback about the businesses they patronize – whether officially or unofficially. If you’re listening, you can quickly respond to feedback and ask questions. It offers an alternate customer support option for both you and them. Comcast is the prototypical example of this with their @comcastcares account.

tweet-comcast

For more examples of of how various businesses use Twitter, Mashable put together a directory of what they say are the businesses that use Twitter the best; as well as small profiles of the individuals behind the accounts. It’s a charming read.

And the NYTimes published an article last month with tips for small businesses on how to use Twitter. They described, for instance, how Chrysta Wilson, owner of LA bakery Kiss My Bundt uses Twitter to create focus groups for new products she wants to introduce. She posts an invite for folks to come down for free samples of the new item if they promise to give her feedback.

The article also describes using the Twitter for a “live version of an FAQ” and as a “soapbox for thinkers”. But the tip we like the best? “Do Not Be Boring.” Agreed.