Every successful business thrives on catering to its customers. Knowing more about your customers gives you an incredible advantage in making critical decisions, especially in marketing.
A key technique to learning about your customers is through Twitter. As one of the pioneers of connecting every day people with businesses and celebrities, the social network is a treasure trove of information on customer opinion and behavior.
While almost every company has realized the importance of having a presence on Twitter, the question remains: How do you make the most out of interacting with your Twitter customer base?
Write Tweets That Engage Your Audience
You probably hear that all the time, but it bears repeating. Many businesses make the mistake of using Twitter purely for advertising. They constantly post promotions. This is the number one crime I see committed daily online. Twitter users are not interested in having their news feed clogged with promotions. If your tweets are highly promotional, people may be less likely to favorite your tweets, comment on them or even continue following you.
Unless you offer giveaways, and you really can’t offer too many or it can get overwhelming, then you should really consider whether or not to post promotions at all. At most, post a promotion once every few weeks.
Your primary goal with Twitter posts should be to engage your customers as this is the best way to learn about them. Start simple. What do they like? This is an enormous question that you need to know how to answer.
Their feedback is a gift that can only make you better. The more you learn about your customers, the more you can accurately target them in your marketing. Additionally, your Twitter posts should be about creating a brand. Customers want to feel like they can relate to your company as if it were a person, not a set of numbers.
Interact With Your Audience
Your customers are going to feel incredibly special when they feel you’ve taken the time to respond to their specific tweet and/or mention. It brings a face to your company, circling back to the idea that customers want to feel like your company has a personality they can relate to and talk to.
With that said, there is a certain Twitter etiquette to keep in mind. It’s extremely important to be friendly, upbeat and understanding in your tweets. Playing defense will get you nowhere except in a Twitter argument with the very people your business relies on.
When answering tweets, you also want to provide honest, genuine information. Give them the helpful advice they seek, even if it’s a simple question and especially if it’s a difficult one.
A lot of times mentions are great ways to just say thank you to your customers. They will also feel like they’ve received a personalized experience, which could make them into a returning customer.
Give Your Company A Personality
Crafting the right Twitter personality takes planning, creativity and strategy. A good place to help you get started is by checking out your competition. How did they brand themselves? What type of personality did they give their company?
The same way you trust a product more because someone you know recommends it, Twitter can make your customers feel like they know you. Try to use your account to project a personality that your customers will like and want to engage with.
You may think you’ll need to hire someone dedicated to handling your Twitter and other social media accounts, but this isn’t always the case. Learn over time what works for you and your existing team. There are dozens of social media management products out there that may be perfect for managing your online presence. These services analyze the interactions and allow for targeted marketing campaigns and specialized offers with a personalized touch.
Much of how you should use Twitter is based on the way small businesses have kept loyal customers for decades. Devoted customers generally believe that the company they are supporting is a good-hearted one with real people who make real products because they really care about their work and their customers. That’s what you want for your business and Twitter can help you make it happen.
Originally published at www.inc.com.