Lecture 4.1: Marketing with Twitter/Microblogging

Microblogging is a combination of blogging and instant messaging that allows users to create short messages to be posted and shared with an audience online. Social platforms like Twitter have become extremely popular forms of this new type of blogging, especially on the mobile web — making it much more convenient to communicate with people compared to the days when desktop web browsing and interaction was the norm. These short messages can come in the form of a variety of content formats including text, images, video, audio, and hyperlinks. The trend evolved around the later end the Web 2.0 era after social media and traditional blogging merged to create a way that was easier and faster to communicate with people online and keep them informed about relevant, shareable information at the same time. – Daniel Nations 2018

Watch the following video to learn about some useful Twitter marketing strategy tips:

Twitter Marketing – 3 Strategies To Market Your Business On Twitter (Links to an external site.)


Minimize Video

BUS127 Twitter 4.1 lecture video notes

  1. search.twitter.com – search relevant topics / keywords

  2. Talk to people! – engage

  3. Automation – 1-2 updates/day prescheduled or automated – stay present without spending hours on Twitter


Lecture 4.2: Twitter Marketing Strategies

What is a Twitter marketing strategy?

A Twitter marketing strategy is a plan centered around creating, publishing, and distributing content for your buyer personas, audience, and followers through the social media platform. The goal of this type of strategy is to attract new followers and leads, boost conversions, improve brand recognition, and increase sales.

Creating a Twitter marketing strategy will require you to follow the same steps you would if you were creating any other social media marketing strategy

  1. Research your buyer personas and audience

  2. Create unique and engaging content

  3. Organize a schedule for your posts

  4. Analyze your impact and results

So, you might be wondering what makes Twitter unique. Why would you want to actually invest the time in creating a profile and content for the platform?

What makes Twitter unique?

Twitter is a great marketing tool for a number of reasons. The platform …

… is free to use.

… allows you to share and promote branded content in seconds.

… expands your reach.

… allows you to provide quick customer service and support.

… works as a search engine tool for you to search for your competitors and their marketing content to see which tactics they’re using.

… can be used as a search engine tool for prospects to find and learn about your company.

… allows you to converse with your followers, share the latest updates about your company, and address your audience.

Now that we’ve reviewed what a Twitter marketing strategy is and what makes the platform unique, let’s cover the ways in which you can use Twitter for your business. These tips will help you boost conversions, create lasting relationships with your followers, and improve your brand awareness.

How to Use Twitter For Business

  1. Customize and brand your profile

  2. Create Twitter Lists

  3. Host a Twitter Chat

  4. Advertise on Twitter

  5. Drive traffic to your website

  6. Use Twitter Moments

  7. Get verified on Twitter

  8. Focus on building your follower count

As you begin using Twitter for your business, there are some steps you’ll want to take to ensure you reach your target audience. Depending on your goals, company size, and industry, you may or may not choose to work through each of the following steps (or you may have already completed some of them), so tailor them to your needs.

  1. Customize and brand your profile.

When someone looks at your company’s Twitter profile, you want them to automatically know it’s yours. Meaning you should customize and brand your Twitter profile (Links to an external site.) with your logo, colors, and any other recognizable and memorable details you want to incorporate. There are a few locations in which you can customize your profile.

  • Handle: Your Twitter handle is your username (for example, our handle is @hubspot) — this should include your company’s name so your followers, customers, and fans can easily search and find you on the platform. You create your Twitter handle (Links to an external site.) when you sign up for an account.
  • Header: The header on your Twitter profile  (Links to an external site.)is your background image. You might choose to create a unique image for your header, use your logo, or another branded image.
  • Profile picture: Your Twitter profile picture  (Links to an external site.)represents your company’s every move, interaction, post, and tweet on the platform. It’s the image that sits above your bio and might include a picture of your logo, company’s initials, or CEO.
  • Bio: Twitter bio (Links to an external site.) provides everyone who visits your profile with a brief synopsis of what they’re about to see in 160 characters or less. It might include your mission statement, a blurb about what your company does, or something humorous (Links to an external site.) and engaging.
  • Website URL: Beneath your profile picture and bio, there’s a location where you can include your URL to direct traffic straight to your website.
  • Birthday: In the same location as your URL, you can insert your company’s birthday — or the day when the company was founded — so your audience gets to know your business on a more personal level.
  1. Create Twitter Lists.

Twitter List (Links to an external site.) — which any user has the ability to create and view — is an organized group of Twitter accounts you’ve selected and put together in specific categories. For example, at HubSpot, lists include Leadership Experts, Top Marketing Experts, Top Business Podcasters (Links to an external site.), and more. When you open a Twitter List, you only see tweets posted by the accounts on the list.

Twitter Lists are great if you want to follow only specific accounts. You might segment your lists into groups such as business inspiration, competitors, and target audience so you’re able to easily review their posts, interactions, and content.

  1. Host a Twitter Chat.

You can schedule and host a Twitter chat to engage your followers, discuss a topic, create a sense of community, and ask your audience for their opinions or input on something you’re working on.

To host a Twitter Chat (Links to an external site.) (or TweetChat), you’ll need to choose a topic, set a time and date for the chat to occur, and create a hashtag for the chat. You can share this information with your followers in a tweet, on your website, in your Twitter bio, and wherever else you choose.

Everyone who wants to participate in the Twitter Chat should then be able to view all responses, questions, and comments regarding your topic of choice by searching your unique hashtag, as well as sharing their own comments and thoughts by adding the hashtag to their tweets.

Twitter Chats promote interaction and engagement on your profile and get people talking about your brand. It also creates a more personal experience between your audience members and your business.

  1. Advertise on Twitter.

Advertising through Twitter (Links to an external site.) is a great way to reach your audience. This will make your tweets easily discoverable by thousands of people, helping you increase your influence and following. You can do this through promoted tweets  (Links to an external site.)or Twitter Ads (Links to an external site.).

Promoted Tweets

Promoted tweets (Links to an external site.) make your tweets appear in the Twitter streams or Twitter search results of specific users. This is a great option for anyone looking to get more people on a specific webpage. Your business will pay a monthly fee as long as you’re promoting a tweet.

Twitter will put your promoted tweets (Links to an external site.) in a daily campaign targeting the type of audience you want to reach as previously indicated in your settings. All Twitter users have the ability to interact and engage with Twitter Ads the same way they would with your organic content.

Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads (Links to an external site.) is a great option if you’re using different types of tweets to achieve one goal for your business. It’s ideal if you’re looking to grow your base of followers and brand awareness significantly through the platform.

Your business can decide between different objectives when it comes to your Twitter ads including app installs, video views, and website conversions (Links to an external site.), as well as audience targeting for your campaigns. This decision will impact the price you’ll need to pay to run your ad.

  1. Drive traffic to your website.

Twitter can help you direct traffic to your website — there are a number of ways to include your website’s URL on your profile as well as add links to your web pages and blogs in your tweets. Here are some ways you can use the platform to direct traffic to your website to help you increase your conversions and sales.

  • Add your website URL beneath your bio on your Twitter profile.
  • Incorporate links to your website in your tweets.
  • Retweet any content that includes direct links to your website and/ or blogs other people have shared.
  • Embed tweets on your website with a Twitter Timeline (Links to an external site.).
  • Set up Twitter Ads to drive users to a specific landing page on your site.
  1. Use Twitter Moments.

Twitter Moments are collections of tweets about a specific topic or event. They’re like a “best of” collection of tweets regarding your topic of choice. For example, Twitter’s Moments section includes “Today”, “News”, “Entertainment”, and “Fun.”

You can also create your own section of Moments for your followers to view on your profile.

You might organize your Twitter Moments (Links to an external site.) into groups of tweets to help you market your business’ events and campaigns or related industry news. They also help with your marketing tactics by providing your business with an engaging way to promote the discussion of specific topics and/ or events that matter to your company to help you share your brand image with audience members.

  1. Get verified on Twitter.

You might choose to apply to get your Twitter profile verified (Links to an external site.) depending on the size of your company and your industry. Twitter states they typically only accept requests for account verification if you’re in “music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas. (Links to an external site.)” If Twitter accepts your application and verifies your profile, a badge with a blue checkmark inside of it will appear next to your handle. This symbolizes an authentic account.

Being verified prevents your audience members from following and being confused by impersonator accounts or accounts with similar content, usernames, and handles to yours. A verified account also makes your business look more legitimate and trustworthy.

  1. Focus on building your follower count.

Needless to say, the more Twitter followers you have, the more people there are looking at and interacting with your content. You’ll have a better chance to improve brand awareness and direct more traffic to your website when you build your follower count on Twitter (Links to an external site.).

There are a number of ways you can increase your follower count on Twitter (Links to an external site.) — here are some to get you started:

  • Ensure your content is shareable.
  • Use unique hashtags.
  • Create engaging content (giveaways, contests, questions, surveys).
  • Enlist the help of Twitter (social media) influencers (Links to an external site.).
  • Include links to your Twitter profile on your website.
  • Interact with your current followers and retweet their content so they’re more likely to do the same for you.

Now that we’ve reviewed how to use Twitter for business, let’s cover some tips and tricks you can apply to your profile to improve your marketing efforts on the platform.

13 Twitter Marketing Tips

  1. Use keyword targeting in your Twitter Ads

  2. Implement hashtags

  3. Organize a content sharing schedule

  4. Create a Twitter campaign

  5. Write a strong profile bio

  6. Use images and videos

  7. Interact with your followers

  8. Share media mentions

  9. Keep an eye on your competitors’ Twitter accounts

  10. Focus on followers’ interests and needs when creating content

  11. Promote your events

  12. Check your direct messages regularly

  13. Keep track of your analytics

The following Twitter marketing tips are universal, meaning they’re applicable to any type of business, in every industry..

  1.  Use keyword targeting in your Twitter Ads.

Keyword targeting on Twitter (Links to an external site.) is component of Twitter Ads (Links to an external site.)Keyword targeting (Links to an external site.) allows you to engage Twitter users through the different words and phrases you’ve included in your content and they’ve searched for on the platform. This means you’re able to reach your target audience at the exact time your business, content, and services are most relevant to them.

On Twitter, there are two types of keyword targeting you can use including search and timeline.

Search Keyword Targeting

Search keyword targeting allows you to make your tweets show up for users who are searching for the topics that you determined relate to your business. For example, if you sell gluten free cookies, you can target users searching for tweets about baking, cookies, gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease.

Timeline Keyword Targeting

Timeline keyword targeting allows you to act on users’ specific feelings, thoughts, actions, and emotions they’ve tweeted about. For example, if you’re a running gear company, you might target keywords and phrases users tweet about such as, “running a race”, “race day tips”, or “training for a marathon”.

  1. Implement hashtags.

Did you know tweets with hashtags receive two-times as much engagement (Links to an external site.) as tweets without them?

Adding hashtags to your tweets is a great way to expand your influence on Twitter. However, there are some guidelines you’ll want to stick to when using hashtags to ensure that you reach the largest number of people possible.

  • Create a hashtag that’s unique to your business so your followers and target audience can easily find you and your content.
  • Create relevant and memorable hashtags for other groups of tweets such as ones related to a specific campaign you’re running.
  • Use Twitter Analytics  (Links to an external site.)to review your most successful hashtags so you can ensure their use in future tweets.
  • Don’t overuse hashtags — this may feel and look spammy to your audience (not to mention it isn’t aesthetically pleasing). Also, tweets with more than two hashtags see a 17%  (Links to an external site.)decrease in engagement than those with one or two hashtags.
  1. Organize a content sharing schedule.

As you grow your base of followers, you’ll need to post on a regular basis to ensure they stay engaged with your business and content. Not only do you want to tweet regularly, but you also want to tweet at the right times of the day. Here are some details about the best times (on average) for businesses to share their Twitter content (Links to an external site.):

  • Between 8–10 AM and 6–9 PM (in correlation with commuter schedules) on weekdays
  • Around noon or between 5–6 PM on any day of the week
  • For B2C companies, the best days to tweet are weekends
  • For B2B companies, the best days to tweet are weekdays

In terms of how often you should post your content on Twitter, there’s no real rule — it’s more about ensuring the content you’re sharing has a purpose and meaning. You can also review Twitter Analytics to take a deep dive into what your engagement looks like on the days you post more or less content to determine what’s working well for your specific audience.

Once you’ve determined when and how often you’re going to post your content, you can enlist the help of a social media management tool (Links to an external site.). This will allow you to both create your tweets and schedule them in advance so you can focus on other tasks you have to complete.

Here are a few examples of popular social media scheduling tools you can use for your Twitter marketing strategy:

  • Sprout Social  (Links to an external site.)provides you with a range of features to help you reach your target audience and buyer personas through Twitter including platform analytics, engagement tools, scheduling capabilities, and details about the type of content your audience wants.
  • Twitter Analytics  (Links to an external site.)allows you to analyze your tweets, understand which content is helping your business grow, and learn about your followers.
  • HubSpot  (Links to an external site.)has a social tool which allows you to schedule posts in advance, connect directly with your audience, and understand how your Twitter interactions are helping your business’ bottom line.
  1. Create a Twitter campaign.

Social media marketing campaigns (Links to an external site.) of any kind are a great way to reach your audience, drive sales, and increase your website traffic. You can create a social media marketing campaign specifically for Twitter to target users and increase your base of followers all while raising your brand awareness through the platform.

To create a Twitter marketing campaign, you’ll want to follow the same steps you would with any type of social media marketing campaign (Links to an external site.).

  1. Research your competition
  2. Determine how you’ll appeal to your target audience
  3. Choose the type of content you’ll create
  4. Share and promote your content
  5. Analyze your results
  6. Write a strong profile bio.

Writing a strong and memorable bio for your Twitter profile is crucial. This is because your Twitter bio (Links to an external site.) is the first thing a profile visitor will read about your company — it’s your written introduction and should briefly explain what visitors can expect from your page and content. You only have 160 characters to do this, so choose your words wisely to ensure your bio successfully represents your brand and reflects who you are as a company.

  1. Use images and videos.

When possible, try to include quality videos and photos in your tweets. It’s been proven that tweets with images outperform tweets strictly made of text (Links to an external site.). Photos and images provide an eye-catching and engaging element in your content as Twitter users scroll through their feeds. Videos are proven to actually outperform tweets with images as well. In fact, tweets with videos are likely to get an average of six times (Links to an external site.) the amount of engagement than tweets without them.

Videos and images are a great way to show your audience your product line or how to use an item you sell as well as make your content feel more personal. Plus, images and videos in tweets are proven to help you increase your engagement — and who wouldn’t want that?

  1. Interact with your followers.

Remembering to engage with your followers (Links to an external site.) as your business grows and Twitter follower count increases is crucial. This will help you create experiences for your followers and audience members that feel personal and keep them coming back to your profile all while fostering a sense of brand loyalty. For example, if someone retweets your post or comments on your tweet, you can “Like” that person’s interaction or even tweet back to them with a response.

  1. Share media mentions.

If your business is mentioned in the media, share the article, video, URL, or image on Twitter. It’ll make your business feel more legitimate to anyone checking out your profile as well as show prospective followers how many other people already know about your company and are enjoying your products and services.

This is an exciting way to broadcast your success to your audience. It also provides you with a way to incorporate backlinks (Links to an external site.) in your tweets which, when clicked, take your audience members to the original source of the mention. Meaning you’ll also drive traffic to the website of the media outlet that mentioned you, likely boosting their follower count and/ or brand recognition. This could potentially help you become mentioned, shared, or featured in one of their pieces of content again in the future.

  1. Keep an eye on your competitors’ Twitter accounts.

Twitter is a great way to keep an eye on your competitors’ marketing efforts. You can follow them or simply search them to see what they’re posting. You can also view basic details about their engagement such as their number of retweets, comments, and responses. This is a simple way to see some of the Twitter marketing strategies your competitors are implementing and whether or not they’re working.

  1. Focus on followers’ interests and needs when creating content.

If you want to reach your audience members and ensure your content resonates with them, you’ll need to focus on their interests and needs— whether that’s in relation to the way you share content, what you share, or how you present it.

When you meet the needs of your target audience and buyer personas (Links to an external site.), they’ll be more likely to continue to follow and interact with your company. As you study your buyer personas and target audience, you’ll be able to determine the type of content they’re likely looking for you to share. Additionally, you can always tweet questions, send out surveys, ask for feedback, or even create a Twitter Chat (Links to an external site.) to get more ideas about the type of content your audience is looking for from your business and Twitter profile.

  1. Promote your events.

Twitter is a great way to promote your business’ events. Similar to the way you might for a Twitter campaign, you can create a unique hashtag for various events (such as launch parties, giveaways, and contests) or schedule a variety of tweets (using one of your social media management tools) to promote any special occasion your company is hosting. This way, audience members — whether or not they’re your followers — will have the opportunity to learn about your event and get all of the details they need to sign up, be in attendance, or participate.

  1. Check your direct messages regularly.

Like other social media platforms, Twitter provides users with a Direct Message inbox (Links to an external site.) where they can contact you in a private message regarding any questions, concerns, or comments they have. So, be sure to check your inbox regularly as this can contribute to the type of customer service and support your business is known for, as well as the type of care you provide your followers and customers.

  1. Keep track of your analytics.

With all of the work you’re putting into your business’ Twitter marketing, you’ll want to ensure your efforts are successful in reaching your goals whether they’re related to directing more traffic to your website, increasing conversions, or improving brand awareness.

You can determine your Twitter marketing success in these areas (and many more) by analyzing your work. To do this, you’ll want to consider which metrics matter to you and then determine how you’re going to track them.

Which Metrics to Track on Twitter

Due to every business being unique and having different goals, you might not be interested in tracking all of the following Twitter metrics (or you might be looking to track additional metrics). However, we’ve compiled the following list of possible metrics for you to consider to get you started.

  • Engagement: Look at the number of retweets, follows, replies, favorites, and click-throughs your tweets get (including all hashtags and links they include).
  • Impressions: Review the number of times your tweets appeared on one of your audience members’ timelines (whether or not they’re actually following you).
  • Hashtags: Look at which of your hashtags are being used most frequently by your audience and followers.
  • Top tweets: Review your tweets with the most engagement.
  • Contributors: Keep up with the level of success each of your contributors — the people you give admin access to on your account — are having with their tweets so you can implement some of their tactics more regularly or remove them completely.

How to Track Twitter Analytics

There are a number of social media management tools (Links to an external site.), such as Sprout Social, HubSpot, and Hootsuite, with analytics features automatically built in. This is convenient for those of you who were already planning on choosing a management tool to assist with the scheduling of your posts. However, one of the most common analytics tools for Twitter is the one created specifically for the platform: Twitter Analytics (Links to an external site.).

Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics helps you understand how your content impacts your audience and the ways in which your activity on the platform can help you grow your business. The tool is free, accessible to all users, and includes information about your Twitter engagement rate, impressions, tweet activity, and information about your followers.

Depending on your business’ needs, you have the ability to incorporate Twitter Ads (if you pay for the option) data in Twitter Analytics as well. Lastly, there are a number of other third-party resources and apps (Links to an external site.) you can download and use along with Twitter Analytics to take a deeper look at specific types of data such as detailed hashtag performance information or how other Twitter handles in your industry are doing.


Lecture 4.3: Using Twitter for Customer Support

As you learned in Chapter 6, to be successful using Twitter to promote a business, the company must locate, build, and retain a loyal following. The article below four describes four powerful techniques for using Twitter to foster customer service relationships. 


Research: Four ways brands can build customer service relationships on Twitter
By Liz Alton l Twitter Blog

Customers take to Twitter to share glowing reviews, air their frustrations, and quickly connect with brands. It pays off to respond to social customer service requests in real time: research (Links to an external site.) shows when a customer Tweets at a business and receives a response, they’re willing to spend 3–20% more on an average-priced item from that business in the future. How can busy brands and social media managers offer their customers the best Twitter customer support?

Tap into Twitter’s customer service features

Twitter offers a series of features (Links to an external site.) which allow you to provide better support and cover the basics of customer support best practices. Using these features lets you:

  • Display your support hours so people know when they can expect to hear back from you
  • Enable direct messages, so more complex issues or private customer details can be shared directly with you
  • Turn on the “support” option so customers immediately see that your brand’s Twitter account is customer-service friendly
  • Use “welcome messages” that prompt people typing a DM on what message to share

Monitor brand mentions and keywords to find service opportunities

Tuning in to the right conversations is the foundation of providing good customer support. You have to capture opportunities when they arise. Focus on Tweets to your account, brand mentions, product mentions, common misspellings of these terms, and relevant keywords. It’s also important to watch and respond to direct messages. Each of these events provides an opportunity to engage with customers and build stronger relationships.

Develop a plan to manage requests

When requests come in, it’s important to have a plan to triage them. Some questions just require a public response, while others contain sensitive requests — such as full names or account information — that should be handled via DM. Deeply technical or specific requests might require interaction outside of Twitter. When your social media manager or digital customer support team has a clear plan for how to respond to different types of requests, they’re able to delight customers every time.

Opt for personalization over templates

Some brands use response templates for common queries, which can help save time and help you quickly respond to many requests. However, personalizing your responses builds stronger relationships. People love to see emotion, humor, and the face behind your brand. Consider initiating or signing your name to each Tweet as well.

Summary: Providing great customer service on Twitter is easy — and it’s good business. Make the most of the customer support tools available, have a clear plan, and focus on personalized, customer-focused responses to provide winning social customer service.


Case Study 4.1: TurboTax Experts Take Over Twitter

Introduction

Intuit is the maker of TurboTax®, the leading tax preparation software “winning recommendations from PC Magazine, CNET.com and The New York Times.” However, the company has long faced a unique problem—the need to re-win customers each tax season. Fortunately, in the age of social media, Twitter provided an unexpected channel for helping the firm retain its customers with year-around engagement.

History

Intuit, Inc., was cofounded by Scott Cook and Tom Proulx in 1983. The company introduced a personal financial management application called Quicken, which put the company on the fast track to success. By the early 1990s, Quicken had become one of the best-selling software applications in the world, making “Intuit . . .the leading U.S. developer of personal finance software.”

In late 2008 Seth Greenberg, director of online advertising and Internet media at Intuit, along with his team, created Twitter feeds for several of Intuit’s brands, including their powerhouse TurboTax brand. Since Twitter’s audience primarily consists of end users, Greenberg’s team thought Twitter would be an ideal medium for reaching consumers interested in TurboTax, their tax preparation software. Intuit partnered with Google in March 2009 to create display advertisements, which incorporated tweets from the TurboTax Twitter feed. Consequently, “Twitter’s unique visitor counts went from less than 5 million in January 2009 to more than 15 million in April 2009, according to comScore.”

Challenge

Tax software maker TurboTax has a unique problem. Their customers find them incredibly useful. But for a very short period. It’s a billion-dollar business in the 15-week period following January 1 of each year. Customers are very passionate, but they need to be re-won annually. The company has gotten used to the seasonal nature of its business, so in 2010 they tried a different approach using Twitter.

Strategy

By ramping up their staffing efforts on Twitter—and bringing some much needed expertise to the space, they happened on something great for business: an excellent customer retention program.

Chelsea Marti (@TTaxChels on Twitter), TurboTax’ Social Media Manager, explained the company’s approach at TWTRCON in New York.

The company wanted to scale its Twitter effort to help customers with their taxes during tax season. To do so, they follow the approach of Intuit’s founder, Scott Cook. Cook created the concept of “follow me home” by literally hanging around Staples stores in the beginning of Intuit’s history until someone bought his product. He’d then go home with them to see how simple (or difficult) the install process was for them. Says Marti: “Getting that close to the customer, he was able to make better products year over year.”

That philosophy has been ingrained in Intuit employees. And according to Marti, TurboTax has taken the same approach to its Twitter strategy: “We’ve basically lived the dream of our CEO and founder Scott Cook.”

The company’s approach to Twitter has grown in importance and size over the last year. TurboTax now has over 20 million customers. And those customers are greatly interested in the company every year in the lead up to April 15th. Says Marti: “We have a short period of time to get those customers the help that they need.”

TurboTax’ seasonal business is both a strength and a weakness. On Twitter, the company has the chance to engage the users who are interested in and commenting on their taxes. But that means devoted resources to the endeavor. And until this year, TurboTax wasn’t able to do that.

Before this tax season, the company had two people in corporate communications. and marketing on Twitter. [In 2010,] they launched TeamTurboTax. The feed went live in February [2010], at the beginning of tax season and up-scaled the company’s Twitter efforts from two employees to 40 staffing the feed. They had a live community team—including experts—and scaled the idea of helping customers.

“During tax season, we see a running stream of our keyword,” says Marti. “Two people handling that is not the best situation for a customer.”

According to Marti, they’ve now utilized those customers and the conversations they’re having online: “Our overarching theme on Twitter is that it’s a persuasion engine that lets us keep customers.”

TurboTax has found that on Twitter customers can help each other. Corporate communications became the hub that farms out questions to the appropriate spokes. The company also uses CoTweet to [ferret] out all the incoming customers.

Now if a customer has a complaint or a problem, it is assigned to the right person. As their Twitter feed bio reads, “TeamTurboTax is who you ask when you have tax, tech or TurboTax questions!”

Results

[As] the 2010 tax season progressed, the company realized people were using the feed differently than they expected. Mostly twitterers were coming to ask TurboTax personal tax issues.

“We set out thinking we’d have more technical questions,” says Marti. “But we found out quickly we were getting tax questions.”

The company had employed tax experts for their effort. They enabled them to find a buddy, train a buddy, or recruit a buddy. That effort added 10 to 12 people to the team. Says Marti: “For us, Twitter was a great way to help customers, but it wasn’t the be all and end all. What really made it for us was the expertise that people brought to Twitter.”

Marti acknowledged if the feed had been staffed by her and corporate communications alone, it would have been far less effective. With experts on deck, the response time was fast. It took an average of four minutes for TurboTax to get back to Twitter questions.

At least half of the people who came to the feed were about to finish a return. The company also found that most of the people seeking out tax help from TurboTax turned out to be existing customers. And they found those customers were 71% more likely to recommend TurboTax because of their interactions with the company on Twitter

In the end, TurboTax’ expanded efforts on Twitter became a great customer retention program. Says Marti: “Everyone knows it’s less expensive to keep a customer than create a new one.”