Twitter Marketing Ploys to Steal Your Competitors’ Customers

Twitter’s growing usage has caused a lot of uneasiness on the part of branding experts.  The ability for customers to quickly express their opinions – positive or negative – in an instantly, globally public forum means marketers have lost another inch of ground in the battle for brand control.  At this point, Twitter marketing is no longer optional: controlling the conversation surrounding your brand is part of crafting your brand’s message.

Watching out for mentions of your brand on Twitter (more on that later) and responding to them is a great start, but it’s not the only reason to be watching Twitter.  Those of you who work in a less Twitter-focused industry than, say, search engine marketing may find a hidden benefit to Twitter marketing – not only are you paying attention (because you’re such a smarty pants), some of your competitors probably aren’t.

This is where you can get sneaky.  And by “get sneaky,” I mean “demonstrate quality customer service to users and prospects.” 

Stealth Twitter Marketing in Action: A B2B Anecdote

Not too long ago, I was frustrated with a SaaS product I was using at work and vented in a short but impassioned 140-character rant.   I’ll be honest – I was hoping the company whose product it was would see my tweet and reach out, since I’d had no luck with my contact there.

Less than an hour later, the phone rang – but it wasn’t the vendor causing all my frustration.  Instead, it was a sales rep for their biggest competitor.  “I saw you were having some difficulty,” he said, “and just wanted to reach out and see if it was time for us to start having a conversation about what we can do for you.”  BAM.

Marketing Lessons Learned

This company proved they were really paying attention – they reached out right away (as opposed to the vendor, who never responded), and went the extra mile by reaching out by phone, instead of tweeting back or direct messaging.  Not only did this move scream class and customer service, it also provided the sales rep an excellent opportunity to begin the sales conversation then and there (it’s important to note that reaching out by phone only worked because I was at work.  If the rep had called my cell, I would have found it creepy).

So how do you duplicate such a feat?  Let’s break it down:

Step 1:  Monitor your competitors’ brands, as well as your own – and make sure you’re receiving alerts frequently so you can shorten response times.

Using services like TweetBeep or TweetScan to monitor Twitter for mentions of your brand is an easy way to monitor brand mentions.  You can receive email alerts daily or hourly with any and all mentions of your competitors’ and your own brands.  It’s way easier than just doing Twitter searches every so often. The more frequently you receive updates, the sooner you’ll be able to respond.  Showing you’re paying attention on Twitter also shows prospects that you’re paying attention overall – and that’s good customer service.

Optional Step 2: Get stalky.  Try to figure out who the person is.  Again, this step is more suited for a B2B offering – a call to my work number is impressive, a call to my cell is creepy.  Don’t be creepy.  Discovering the tweeter’s identity will be easier with some accounts than others – but if you can get a first and last name, hop on LinkedIn and find a place of work, you’re just a phone tree away from a voice-to-voice convo.

Step 3: Reach out.  This is the most important step, and the more personal you can be, the better.  Remember, the point is to demonstrate your superior customer service.  A canned response or auto-reply isn’t going to cut it.

This strategy isn’t without its setbacks.  Some Twitter users view any reach-out for marketing purposes to be spammy, so don’t be surprised if you get some pushback.  If you can start getting the drop on your competitors, however, you’re one step way, way ahead.  Paying attention and being personal are what Twitter marketing are really all about.

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