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Understanding Twitter for Customer Service

Bitesize - The Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service: Part 1/10


Over the coming weeks we'll be releasing a series of bitesize posts from our 'Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service', a practical handbook for executing a Social Customer Service program from the ground up. You can download the guide in full here.


Twitter is one of the social networks most widely used by consumers to reach out to companies for customer service. Also known as a microblog, Twitter allows for a wide distribution of commentary from absolutely anyone, whether it is about sports, news, entertainment or products and services. For those companies looking to engage in two-way discussion with their customers, Twitter presents some challenges.

What Does Twitter Mean for Business?

Twitter allows users to distribute 140-character posts to the people who choose follow them. And the option to retweet allows news to spread faster and reach audiences that a company wouldn’t normally have at their disposal.

If a company tweets about a new product and a customer retweets, all of that customer’s followers will see the message, even though most are unlikely to have subscribed to that brand’s updates. This holds great potential to expand the audience of outbound communications, but businesses need to be conscious of the risk of bad news spreading when a customer complains. Twitter levels the playing field, and consumers have just as much power over your message as you do.

How Can Twitter be Managed for Customer Service?

For some businesses, creating different Twitter handles for marketing and customer service can be very effective, especially due to a limit of 1,000 tweets per day from any account. But you can’t control where customers will reach out, and it’s important that this separation is only strict for responses, rather than listening.  Tesco manages multiple Twitter accounts very efficiently, with @UKTesco responding to customer service issues, and @uktescooffers sending out deals for customers to take advantage of.

Tweets in Context - who’s listening?

There are several types of messages to monitor via Twitter:

  1. @mentions mean that a customer is speaking directly to the brand.
  2. Tweets containing @mentions mean that a customer is talking about you.
  3. A tweet containing your company namesuggests that a Twitter user is talking about you, but they haven’t attached your Twitter handle.
  4. Retweets allow users to share messages with their followers, giving companies the opportunity to reach a whole new audience.
  5. Direct messages are private messages between Twitter users, but you must be following a user to receive a direct message from them. These are still limited to 140 characters.

How can you use Facebook for social customer service? Move ahead to Part 2 of our Bitesize posts here.

What are your thoughts on the use of Twitter to deliver customer service? We’re interested to hear your opinions in the comments below.
Got any suggestions for what you’d like to hear from us? Send your thoughts to marie@conversocial.com, or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas.

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