Customers want to communicate with businesses in new and different ways. It’s not that brochures and flyers aren’t effective. And it’s not that customers won’t use their phones to call customer service centres or see and appreciate an ad. But there are new tools emerging from the social marketing sphere that can and do have an impact on customers and their purchasing decisions.

Twitter is a microblogging platform that gives businesses new ways to connect with their customers and their potential customers. And, it gives customers a way to talk to and about the businesses they know and use. For example, a recent guest at a restaurant tweeted about how long they had to wait for a table – in spite of having made a reservation. The restaurant found the tweet as part of a regular morning search using the name of the restaurant as a key word. The restaurant was able to send a direct tweet to the annoyed customer and offer them a free meal. The result: a happy customer who then proceeded to tweet about how well they had been treated and how satisfied they were. Twitter is another tool that can help a business build relationships that are important to its success.

Twitter can be used to listen to what customers are saying or to let them know about a new product or discount. Like all social media tools, it has its own terminology.  Here’s a list of some of the most common terms.

Twitter terms

Profile: A short description of you or your business. It should cover the who, what and where of what you do.

Tweet: A 140 character entry. It could be a statement, a comment, a question, an exclamation or a URL.

Twitter Name: This is a username, the one your followers will see. You could make it your name, the name of a company or even the name of a product. Each name is unique, so choose yours with your customers in mind. What will they be looking for?

Follower: A user who subscribes to your tweets.

Follow: To follow other twitter users, click on the follow button of their profile. You’ll get an email letting you know if someone decides to follow you. 

Follow Back: Following someone who is already following you.

Reply: A public message sent to a specific user. The user is designated with an @ followed by the user’s name.

Direct Message or DM: A private message sent from one user to another. Just click the “message” link or put a D followed by space in front of the user name.

Twitter Stream: A list of a users’ tweets on their profile page.

Hashtag: The hashtag is used before a topic that’s particularly interesting to a group or community. For example #Jaguar sales.

Retweet or RT: A repeat of someone’s tweet. Just type RT before you tweet it. Or just hover over it with your mouse and click retweet.

Favourite: To mark someone’s last tweet as your favourite, just insert FAV username. It will show up in your favourites tab.

Lists: Dividing your contacts into lists lets you decide to listen and communicate with different groups separately.  Perfect when you learn more about your customers.

An introduction to Twitter terms can help, but it’s certainly not the whole story. Twitter needs to connect with people, but it also needs to connect with other aspects of a wider marketing plan or strategy.