As we are on the verge of the fourth quarter, a make or break time for many merchants and retailers, I decided to take a look at how some large and small merchants and retailers are using twitter.
BestBuy has a multi-pronged approach, the main account @BestBuy provides interaction for BestBuy’s employees. A secondary account @Twelpforce (which stands for Twitter Help Force) is geared towards helping customers with technical problems and issues. Another account, @GeekSquad focuses just on computer support for customers.
The thing that’s missing from this strategy, however, is a pure sales channel. BestBuy puts a lot of resources behind the sales flyers and promotional catalogs you get with your Sunday paper every week. There are certainly ways to leverage those promotions in conjunction with Twitter. While there is a @BestBuy_Outlet account, it has limited quantities of products available.
Another opportunity I think BestBuy is missing out on is by not capitalizing on the vanity account name. The account @BestBuy is going to be where most people who might be interested in BestBuy will start to look, if they see it’s an employee centric account, they might not dig deeper. In my opinion, BestBuy should use the main account as a public facing account, have a dedicated account for sales/specials, and relocate the employee account to another name.
When many people hear multiple accounts, they assume this means an increase in time and resources you need to devote to twitter. This simply isn’t the case anymore. There are tools that allow you to manage multiple accounts from one interface like Easytweets, TweetDeck, and HootSuite, which make switching from one account a single painless mouseclick. If you do decide to use multiple employees, a product like CoTweet can help you do it more effectively.
Toys R Us
It’s rare to find an account that can blend promotions with customer and community engagement and keep it balanced, but @ToysRUs is one of them. Another interesting thing that this account does is distribute links to online only and offline only coupons. This works because ToysRUs has a large number of locations, and it gives them the ability to track how effective Twitter is for them.
At first glance, this would seem to be a very active account with multiple tweets per day, however what they are really doing is leveraging content from the blog at Toys.com which automatically posts to the twitter account. As long as you write your blog posts knowing they will turn into individual tweets, and schedule your posts for “prime time” (9 to 5, when people should be working) it can be very effective.
One of the criticisms many merchants have about using Twitter as a sales channel, is everyone is looking for discounts or deals. While that can be attributed partially to the anemic economic rebound, that is a fair criticism. If as a merchant or retailer, you aren’t prepared to offer discounts, sales, or other preferential pricing you will probably have a lot of difficulty making Twitter contribute to your bottom line.
For merchants who are willing to offer discounts there is substantial audience. For example, @CouponTweet which launched early this year is approaching 25,000 followers, and there are other accounts related to coupons with thousands of followers as well.
If you’re a merchant or retailer and are looking to engage on Twitter, or have an existing account and are looking to get more value out of here are some tips:
- Decide if you are going to go with a single or multiple account strategy. Try to gauge the amount of interest for different channels when making your decision.
- Look for ways to engage directly with your existing followers, or the followers of related, and similar companies. Not every tweet should have commercial intent.
- Look for opportunities to leverage your existing content into your Twitter account. Your Twitter account should have some unique elements but it’s, OK to mix in your blog posts or other content.
- Tweet when you have the opportunity to reach the most followers. Not everyone is in your time zone, so you can tweet more than once per day.
- Track your Twitter promotions with landing pages, tracking URL’s, coupon codes and cookies.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.