Twitter can be an important marketing and customer service tool for businesses, but it’s easy to make mistakes. A business owner may hear about Twitter and decide to jump on the bandwagon and wrongly expect this micro-blogging service to be a substitute for a marketing or customer-service plan.

The best way to get the most out of Twitter is to incorporate the tool into your current strategies.  Remember, Twitter can help your business — but it is not a complete solution on its own. 

We take a look at one company’s Twitter success and discuss the strategies it uses.

The Dell Outlet

The Dell Outlet is Dell’s online Web shop for purchasing refurbished Dell computers and electronics. By bringing its outlet site to Twitter, Dell claims to have generated $6.5 million from its Twitter activities last year. In addition to the value of the direct sales via tweeting, the company has also realized revenue from people who start by following a Twitter link and continue on to other pages on the Dell Web site to buy a new computer.

Those numbers might sound impressive at first glance, but the actual dollar value is only a fraction of Dell's multi-billion-dollar annual sales. Still, it does show that online businesses — especially e-commerce Web shops — can realize a profit and sales through creative and effective business twittering.

How Dell Uses Twitter:  Dell uses Twitter to send messages about the latest refurbished systems available in the Dell Outlet. It also tweets coupons and messages about clearance events. In February of last year, Dell started offering exclusive deals to Twitter followers in the United States.  Dell's messages are tweeted out to more than 1.5m followers on the Twitter service.

What is Dell Doing Right?

The first thing to note, despite the Twitter media hype around Dell, is that its success did not come from using Twitter to create a new business model or sales channel.  The Dell Outlet was already successful before it began tweeting.  The company uses a special Web shop on its Web site and e-mail marketing to promote this small part of the business, and it integrated Twitter into its strategy for higher conversions.

Plus, the Dell Outlet Twitter account consistently targets the same audience and focuses only on the Dell Outlet in their tweets. There is no mention of newly launched Dell PCs or laptops or other electronics and services that you’ll discover in other places on their Web site.  The tweets are targeted and provide information that niche bargain hunters are looking for. Dell provides links on its Twitter profile for people interested in following other Dell businesses.

The Dell Outlet Twitter account is also personalized. They have removed the business tone from their Twitter presence by displaying a real name, contact information and photo of the spokesperson responsible for the Dell Outlet on Twitter.

Dell displays the business identity, but it places more emphasis on the person tweeting behind the corporate logo. When you bring your business in to social media it is important to present an individual face. People will always respond better to a person than a business a social media setting.

Lastly, Dell uses this Twitter account as a communication tool to respond to its Outlet customers. Followers who have purchased a deal from the Dell Outlet or those with questions about Dell coupons and deals can ask their questions via Twitter and the Dell Outlet follows up with the customer in a Twitter reply.

What’s it Mean for Your Small E-commerce Business?

Here’s the takeaway: you can study the marketing strategies that Dell uses on Twitter — with great success — and adapt them to suit your own e-commerce business.

Based on the success of corporations such as Dell, Zappos and others, you can incorporate the following strategies into your own Twitter presence.

Don’t create a new aspect of your business just to tweet about it. Tweet about your core business — about what you do best.
Select one person from within your business to represent the company on Twitter. Make sure your followers know that person’s face and name.

Keep your tweets relevant and focused. Rather than using one Twitter account for all your business tweets, create separate accounts and limit each account to one specific topic or theme.

Make sure your tweet has value for the customer.  They don’t care so much about your broken office air conditioner as they do a hot new product or super deal.  Good tweets are those that invite a response or retweet from your follower.

Be responsive. If you customers use Twitter as the medium to initiate customer service or technical support conversations, follow up with them in Twitter.

Source: Ecommerce-Guide

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