20 Ways to Use Twitter to Create Rabidly Loyal Customers
by Anita Campbell
It's tempting to want to spend your efforts attracting new customers. We all know how important that is, -- but sometimes we end up ignoring the core of our business (our current and happy clientele). Point of fact: well-cared-for customers are like walking, talking billboards. It’s up to us to give them a reason to feel good about us and give them something great to talk about.
Twitter is a perfect medium for getting closer to your customers, strengthening two-way communications, and creating warmer relationships. Twitter also helps your business stay top of mind with customers, so that when they need additional products and services, they automatically think of your company.
So we asked some of the small business experts for their tips on how to use Twitter to build such strong relationships with customers that they become rabidly loyal – and not ready to jump ship to your next competitor.
Here are their tips on this all-important subject:
• Tweet Daily. Try to tweet at least once a day. Consistency is important to building a relationship
• Add a Human Connection. Add some personality to your tweets and tell the story behind your product or service and the people who work there. Customers are more likely to feel loyal if they realize there are human beings behind all those tweets.
• Balance Information with Promotion. Tweet about news articles and blog posts about the company or related topics and products that customers might care about. It's important to keep a balance between self promotion and providing useful information.
• Retweet Your Clients Regularly (RT). I make sure that I take a good look at my clients' Twitter streams, so I can retweet several of their strongest messages when they least expect it. [Note: a retweet is when you repeat someone else's message, including their Twitter handle giving them credit for the original statement.]
• Create Strategic Match-ups. I also try to create at least one strategic match (introduction) between my client and one of my own followers.
• Use Tools to Participate in Real-time Discussions. Use an online management application like Tap11, Hootsuite, or Tweetdeck and set up specific feed columns. In addition to a direct message (DM) column, I maintain a column for close contacts and some based on hashtags. This creates an easier way to follow threaded conversations, and respond accordingly.
• Monitor Mentions. You also can monitor comments through Google Alerts and Postling. The alerts are sent to your email, so you can pick up threads you’ve missed if you had an especially busy prior day.
• Give Tweet Rewards. Seek input from current clients who've made a recent purchase from your business via Twitter. You can ask them to tweet their experience and offer them a discount or coupon if they do it. It's a great way to receive testimonials.
Give Tweet Love. One way to strengthen current customer relationships on Twitter is to monitor and give a little love. Customer made a cool announcement? Has a new product? Won an award? Wrote an interesting blog post? Make sure to share it/retweet it. Everyone loves a little love.
• Use Twitter Lists. Create a Twitter list of all your customers. This helps with focused interaction. You can also observe and listen to what is important to them and take action to strengthen the relationships.
• Listen More. Spend more time in Twitter Search tracking brand terms and related keywords than you do talking about your company. You’ll learn a lot more and will be clued in to what your customers really want from you.
• Avoid Typos. Twitter Typos break your message, make you look unprofessional, and may put words in your mouth you didn’t intend. Write your tweet. Edit. Edit again. Then publish.
• Use Twitter Feedback. Twitter doesn’t work as an island. You need to create a system in-house for how you’ll be dealing with the information you're handed there. For example, the customer support questions need to be delivered to Customer Service or R&D. Build a system for getting the right information to the right people.
• Do a good job of saying thanks. Recognize that no one HAS to retweet your stuff or say they like it. They are an unpaid sales force for your brand. Everyone likes to see their own name, so personalize your thank you messages, as much as you can.
• Support people who support you. Whenever I get a compliment, recommendation or RT, I try to return the favor. I will look in their Twitter stream to see if there's any content relevant to my audience that I can RT.
• Give free advice. Use your blog to give advice to your customers and answer quick questions live on Twitter. I have done this so much, that I now answer Twitter questions every Friday with video on my blog at
• Create Lasting Connections Through Content. ID your customers' needs & interests. Then create content and conversation around those needs and interests. That shows you really do understand their business well. Instead of tweeting, following, and just moving onto the next follower. Build on the initial connection.
• Add Business Value. Add value with every tweet. Sure, we've all heard of the people who comment on what they ate for lunch and where they are. But focus on what all of this means to your followers. Don't just tweet for tweeting’s sake; make every 140 characters count!
• Say Hello to Twitter! Get up there! More of your clients are on Twitter than you know — so show up so you can “hear” them and engage. I just found one yesterday, and I’m already re-tweeting her posts to let her know that she is top of mine — because I care, because the content is good, and because I want to be top of mine when it’s referral time.
And now for a tip of my own….
• Don't Get Too Informal With Business Tweeting. WHAT, you say? Isn't Twitter supposed to be informal, with a personal touch? Sure it is – but don't forget that you're being critiqued by customers 24/7 on Twitter. You may regret those risqué tweets that seemed like a good idea during Happy Hour -- or that political argument where you called the Leader of the Free World a horse's patoot. Don't let Twitter's intimate feel and personal connection lull you into "anything goes." You can easily turn off and offend customers, who probably couldn't care less about your political views or after-hours activities -- until they start seeing them on the company Twitter feed. At the very least, they may question your (or your employees') business judgment in the choice of information you share.
So there you have 20 eminently practical tips on how to build customer loyalty and stay top of mind with customers. Now what's your expert advice? Share a tip below.
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