So, people are talking about your business on Twitter.
Congratulations. Now, what are you doing about it?
Twitter is much more than a way to push out content. Which conversations should you respond to and how will you do it? It’s important to think about how your Twitter responses (or lack-there-of) fit your brand image.
Here are five guidelines to think about as you create your Twitter response plan.
1. Decide what you’re going to respond to.
- Direct @ reply questions (i.e. @openforum can you tell me…): I recommend, always responding to these, at least to refer these people to where they can get answers. These are people directly asking your brand for help – are you going to help them or ignore them?
- @ mentions of your brand: people will @mention your brand when talking to others or sharing about it. When they @ mention they are choosing to explicitly tip you off that they are mentioning you. Consider helping them out if they mention they have a problem, clarifying anything that’s unclear, or thanking them if they have said something positive.
- Talking about your brand name: people are talking about you but not directly using your brand’s Twitter handle. They may not know you’re on Twitter, or may not be interested in having you reach out. Pay attention to these conversations, but only reach out when you can add value.
2. Response speed matters.
In general, the quicker you respond to something, the more leeway you have. If I happen to be chatting about Comcast and they reach out to me quickly with a comment or suggestion, I’m going to be impressed. However, if I talked about them 24 hours ago and they just get back to me, I’ve already forgotten what I tweeted, and their response will feel out of context. For the @Klout account, we’ll always response to direct questions, even if it means going back in time a bit, but we will only respond to comments if we can do so within a few hours.
3. Know when to DM and when to publicly reply.
In general, if someone has an issue, DM is often preferable to a public reply. That way, you can deal with their request one-on-one. I would only do a public reply if they aren’t following you or you know others are following the conversation as well. Also, when you start a conversation with someone, make sure to follow them so they can DM you if they’d like to provide more details in private. Don’t be afraid to respond by saying it’d be best to follow up on email or phone where you aren’t limited by 140 characters.
4. Set guidelines, but also trust your community managers.
It’s important to make sure responses match company branding and overall tactics, but there must be a lot of room for judgment. Twitter does not work well with stock responses and support drones. Let those doing your community management and responses use their own voice and personalize responses. As you choose community managers, you should make sure their voice is one that fits your company so you don’t have to police them, but can trust them to do their job.
5. Listen to your community.
Don’t just blindly respond to all these comments, but notice trends and patterns. Twitter is an amazing way to get feedback on your product, from some of the biggest influencers out there. What do people consistently ask for or get confused about? Use this information to make your product better.
Actively responding on Twitter can be scary. It’s a little like doing customer support with a big spotlight on you and a video camera rolling. It’s important to keep in mind though, that people are talking about your brand whether you’re there or not. The only question you have to ask is, do you want to be a part of that conversation?