While most businesses are eyeing the sales potential of Twitter, there’s another important use of this social networking tool. Public relations (PR) traditionally is managing the flow of information about your business. But the rise of social networking is quickly transforming the field. While you can’t exactly manage conversations on Twitter, you can join them and build a positive perception of your business in the Twittersphere.
Engage Your Public
Whether you’re on Twitter or not, people may be talking about you. You can’t get on there and control the conversation, but you can shape people’s perception of you and your business by becoming involved. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Be yourself. Imagine that you’re socializing with people at a cocktail party when you log onto Twitter. You wouldn’t launch right into a sales pitch when you meet someone at a party, so don’t do it on Twitter. Start by building a personal relationship.
- Consider your words carefully.Remember that even though you’re conversing one-on-one, many, many other people are listening in. Each conversation contributes to people’s perception of you.
- Listen and ask questions. Remember that Twitter is a two-way dialog. Meaningful relationships are built on the give and take that naturally occurs during a conversation.
One of the most frustrating aspects of running a business is knowing that you can’t please everyone. It’s simply not possible. And worse, social networking Web sites give the displeased a platform to instantly share their complaints with their friends, friends of friends and the general public. Sometimes the viral potential works in your favor and sometimes it works against you.
Experts agree that the best way to handle criticism on Twitter is to respond with a resolution to the customer’s problem to prevent the criticism from gaining traction or growing into a larger story on blogs.
If you respond quickly and respectfully to negative comments on Twitter, your audience will not only see the complaint, but your response to it. You effectively turn every complaint or criticism into a chance to show that you’re willing to listen and offer answers to your customers’ problems. That’s good, free publicity.