Twitter, the popular micro-blogging service, can be somewhat of a quagmire for marketers. Many have yet to really nail down the specific value that they can bring to consumers on Twitter as well as understand the methods they can use to engage with potential customers without drifting into the realm of SPAM.
Here are a few tactics you can use to leverage the amazing volume and openness of Twitter for your eCommerce marketing:
1. Create Category Accounts
Most eCommerce marketers have inventories that are too large to simply set up an RSS feed that broadcasts our products on Twitter – nor is there any real value in that anyway. Instead of managing one account that broadcasts every product in your inventory, create separate accounts that focus on different segments, such as @MyStoreTelevisions and @MyStoreApparel, for example. Use each one of these accounts for a balance of engagement and product tweets.
Many eCommerce companies focus on acquiring huge followings, which is a mistake. It’s far better to have a targeted network of engaged followers than a large network with a disparity of interests. It’s not the size that counts; it’s how you use it!
2. Run Contests
Twitter users love contests and discounts, and they are highly responsive to time-sensitive promotions. “ReTweet” contests (“ReTweet this for a chance to win x product!”), for example, are very popular with Twitter users and are excellent for identifying potential connections as well as creating activity amongst your followers.
Time- or quantity- limited promotions keep your Twitter following highly engaged. You don’t have to constantly offer giveaways and promotions in your feed, but if you offer great value consistently, then followers will be paying closer attention when you share special products or items you want to feature.
3. Engage and Support Consumers
Be sure that whoever is managing your different category accounts is well-versed in those products. Account managers should constantly be using tools like Search.Twitter.com to scan conversations on Twitter for appropriate keywords and people asking questions or talking about problems related to their category. Once they pinpoint these conversations, they'll be able to bring real value to customers by offering helpful feedback and solutions. They can also leverage customer evangelism on Twitter by sharing the experiences of happy customers with other followers who might be potential customers. Product recommendations prospects get from their social network can be highly influential in their purchasing decisions.
In addition, being engaged in social media allows you to identify customer service issues and turn angry customers into evangelists by actively solving their issues in a highly visible way. A number of successful companies use Twitter very effectively for customer support. Customers who may not use your existing support system may use social media to voice their complaints, so being engaged and aware in social media will allow you to identify issues and provide support in the medium where the customer feels most comfortable.
4. Identify Potential Prospects
Twitter’s openness is one of its great advantages for eCommerce. The vast majority of tweets is publicly available in search and will appear in social media monitoring tools. Therefore, you can keep an eye out for people expressing an interest in your product or related products, and actively engage with them.
You can also pay attention to who is saying what about your company (e.g. “Has anyone bought from this company before?” is a common question people ask that demonstrates interest) or even your competitors.
5. Create Brand Affinity
People feel more comfortable when a seller's personality shows. Have some character! Feel free to be funny. Engage with people about personal issues or topics of common interest. When people realize there is a real person they can actually relate to behind the Twitter account, they’ll be more likely to convert –- and reconvert.
To further emphasize the personal touch of your account, consider making your Twitter profile picture that of a person, not a logo. You can always include a logo badge on your profile picture, and it’s always a good idea to use your Twitter background as prime real estate for branding, but don't be afraid to give your site and your brand a little personality!
6. Conduct Market Research
Twitter followers are phenomenally valuable for product and offer feedback. Are you considering carrying a new product? Are you considering adding a new feature to your website? Twitter followers are usually happy to share their opinion with you, so think about leveraging your community for feedback and research.
7. Engage With Influencers
A key benefit of Twitter is the ability to socially engage with product influencers. Whether they be people who professionally review your type of product or current customers who are influential within their networks, Twitter allows you to identify influential people and engage with them. Actively solicit their feedback about your product, site features, etc. When influencers feel involved, engaged, and empowered, they’ll be more likely to become evangelists for your brand.