When I started my current full-time job at a media company, there were a few people there trying out Twitter, but only a couple of us using it regularly. Now, a year later, most of the people in my department are regular users, and there are many people using it throughout the company. We have several “official” Twitter accounts, and many people in our news room that have made microblogging part of their job. In addition, we’ve started experimenting with microblogging as part of our internal process.
I can’t take full credit for the transformation, but I like to think I helped. Fact is, Hundreds of businesses are trying microblogging as a way to connect with customers, share information, and recruit employees. Most are using Twitter, but some are experimenting with other services as well. Companies like JetBlue and Zappos are successfully reaching customers through Twitter. For most companies, all they need to get started is an evangelist. Here’s some ways you can be that person.
This may seem rather obvious, but it can be intimidating to follow people you’ve only passed in the hallway. Don’t be afraid to follow everyone you know at work. Many of them probably just signed up to try it out, and haven’t yet figured out what to use it for. If you post regularly it will encourage them to as well. If it’s active, your small office community will attract more participants and spread throughout the company.
Even if your company isn’t actively involved in microblogging communities, chances are the people there are already talking about it. Use tools like Twitter Search and Google Alerts to monitor what these communities are saying about your business. Whatever you find, bring it up at meetings so that other people at your company know these conversations are going on.
Of course, you could go beyond just watching and get involved. If a customer tweets about having a problem, ask them for more information and pass it along to someone in your company. How much you do this will depend on how comfortable you are speaking for your business. What you don’t want to do is get defensive. Don’t try to argue with everyone that has a negative word about your company. Instead, engage the ones with actual problems, and try to ignore the random attacks.
There’s more to microblogging than just answering customer questions. It can be an important tool for connecting with other people in your industry. Follow other people and companies that do work similar to yours. Then, as your co-workers begin microblogging, introduce them to the people you already follow. This will make tools like Twitter more useful to your company, and allow you to be the “hub” through which networking opportunities are made.
Twitter can be great for communicating with your co-workers, but you may want to discuss things that are not meant for posting publicly. Plus, you may not want to mix business with personal postings, something that’s difficult not to do. For those reasons, a service like Yammer might be appropriate. Yammer offers internal microblogging for businesses. Anyone can sign up, and only people with an email address in the same domain can follow your posts. While this won’t help you talk to your customers, it can be a useful tool for improving inter-office communications.
With more choices than ever before, it is often communication that helps a consumer choose what businesses they frequent. By introducing microblogging to your company, you can be an evangelist for more open communication and quality customer service.
Are people at your work microblogging? What’s been the result? Let us know in the comments.