Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tweeting Value

Marshall MacLuan wrote that the medium is the message. If this is true, then new social networking applications, specifically Twitter, should be the holy grail to market and promote products to wayward customers.

Companies, (and specifically their marketing departments), have wasted no time jumping on the twitter bandwagon. It's free, easy to use, and blasts simple marketing messages out to a wide range of users with rapid speed. But with all these positives, do customers really want to know about pizza promotions and free coffee?

If there is a place for this marketing angle, then surely there must also be a place to use twitter as a tool to engage customers, add some value to your business, and create opportunities to enhance your service. Checking this idea out, The Retail Muse found a few great ideas that make twitter an effective, and powerful online medium, especially for the campus market.

Clever Customer Service
Large companies such as Comcast have found that twitter is an effective way to respond to customer help queries. Other companies, both large and small, have also used Twitter as a way to reach customer comments and complaints in record time. For campus stores the ability to respond quickly to student questions is a huge benefit. Imagine how swiftly you can respond to student complaints, solving the problem in a proactive manner, before they have told 10 friends.

Feedback and Focus Groups.
Every business wants to know how they are doing, but struggle with the machinations of creating, compiling and analyzing surveys and focus groups. How about using twitter to get simple immediate feedback from your student customers? Simple questions such as "did you get what you needed?" "What would you like to see in store?". Consider also watching discussions about your store on line. As one company spokesman said, "twitter is the canary in the coalmine". Watching for customer discussions about your store is a good way to hear feedback and quickly respond to it.

Customer Expectation Management
Jet Blue tweets flight delays. Comcast used twitter to inform subscribers that a lightning storm knocked out transmission, and approximately when service would be restored. United Linens advised customers by twitter that deliveries would be delayed after a major snowstorm.

Thinking about these ideas, it seems like the campus store could utilize twitter very effectively, to keep students in the loop, and informed. Tweet how long your rush lineups are, or how ling the wait time is. Tweet when the store is N|OT busy at rush. Let them know the best times to come in. Use twitter to let students know when that back ordered textbook finally arrived, or that you are sold out of a specific title,and the approximate delivery date. How bought tweeting the top titles needed for buyback? Reminders about your return policy deadlines? All these and more are a simple and effective way to provide valuable real time information to your student customers.

Employee Recruitment
Sodexho, a food services provider on many campuses, has been using twitter as an employee recruitment tool. Simple and effective, Sodexho sends an automated message out to prospects whenever a position opens up. The messages are opened 30% of the time. What a great inexpensive way to recruit casual and student employees for your store.

And More
Do you have other ideas? how have you being using twitter in your store? Tweet "the Retail Muse" and let us know! Good ideas are just a tweet away.

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