Realising the power of Twitter

Replyz is a new add-on service to Twitter that allows you to quickly ask and get answers from Twitter users, and answer questions others are asking. Replyz does this by pulling out the tweets it thinks are questions into its interface that you then sign into using your Twitter login details.

For businesses, Replyz offers a convenient way to keep track of your reputation online and establish yourself as an expert in a particular industry. For example, you can do searches on your brand name or on words relating to your industry and quickly answer questions that you have the knowledge and expertise to answer. You can also get widespread feedback on a product, service or idea from people beyond your immediate sphere of influence, since you’re asking and answering questions to people beyond your followers and those on your lists. Finally, you can quickly pinpoint customer complaints, answer queries from your existing customers, and find opportunities for new service offerings based on what people are asking for.

Overall, I think Replyz represents a significant milestone in Twitter’s perceived value. More and more, people (and businesses) are seeing the microblogging giant less as a way to broadcast narcissistic bleats about your personal life or brand, and more as a way to extract real value from a critical mass of people in real time.

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AT&T vs Georgio and the power of social media

An interesting case study in both the power of social media and how companies are taking it seriously comes from disgruntled AT&T customer Georgio Galante. Galante was upset with his data plan on AT&T, and wrote two emails of complaint to AT&T’s CEO. Shortly afterwards, he got a call from an AT&T Executive Response rep telling him that if he personally emailed the CEO again, they’d issue him with a cease and desist letter. In the old days, Georgio would probably walk away with his tail in between his legs. Nowadays, thanks to social media, the power between business and customer is levelling. Through Twitter and his blog, Georgio’s story went viral (it was featured on Engadget among a host of other tech and general news sites), with the end result being that AT&T apologized personally to Galante for what had happened.

Three observations here:

  1. US businesses like AT&T are quickly realising the potential damage a customer can do if they are a) disgruntled and b) are blogging and/or on Twitter.
  2. AT&T’s response time was extremely fast and that’s why damage was relatively contained – it took only a single day from when Georgio’s story went viral to when AT&T apologised to him.
  3. A cease and desist letter for emailing the CEO? Overreaction, much? Can just imagine the bollocking that the AT&T rep who made the call must have got.

Keyword research tools for social media sites

I was asked recently if there are any keyword research tools besides Google’s free keyword tool for specific social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Especially if you’re marketing your brand on these sites, it’s useful to research what keyword searches are specific to each site.

YouTube

Since YouTube is a Google-owned property, Google has reworked their keyword tool to be specific for YouTube searches. If you’re optimising your video for popular searches on the site, use the YouTube keyword suggestion tool.

Facebook

If you want to access Facebook demographic and keyword statistics, the bad news is you’ll have to have a Facebook Page up and running to access Facebook Insights, the site’s internal analytics tool. If you don’t have a Facebook Page yet, you can still use Facebook’s newly-revamped internal search tool with drop-down suggestions to find out what your target market is searching for.

Twitter

Although Twitter doesn’t have an internal keyword research tool like Google or YouTube, you can still see what’s trending on the site as a whole via the “Trending Topics” links beneath the search bar on Twitter’s internal search page. You can also click the “Advanced Search” link alongside the search box to find tweets related to a specific keyword. In terms of external sites, Hashtags.org is a good way of finding popular hashtags, or current themes for tweets.

Overall, it’s worth noting that search trends on Twitter are likely to be more current than searches on Google, which are likely to be more evergreen. Also, if something’s searched for on Google, it’s likely to also be popular on a site like Facebook and Twitter.