I don't automatically follow people who follow me on Twitter. It may sound like bad Twitter etiquette, but it's more self defence than offensiveness.
I'm happy to be followed (preferably by people keen to read my Tweets; not simply by those playing the numbers game). I will follow people who I believe are wiling to share information or contacts relevant either to my professional work or to my other interests.
I look at each new follower to assess suitability, and also look at their inward and outward followings and their recent Tweeting history. High-frequency Tweeters tend to clog up my Timeline so I tend to avoid them – unless I can see potential value. At the other extreme, low-frequency Tweeters may not say much – but it can be worth hanging on for an occasional gem of a quote.
In the past I have followed (or followed back) several people whose Tweets are simply not adding value for me, and in the not-too-distant future I shall be wiping them off my list.
The fact is that Twitter is a brilliant way to communicate. It's important to have a good and growing number of followers and followings, but there's a limit to the number of Tweets any person (who isn't actually a paid social media executive) can read in a day. If you can't keep up with your Timeline, the chances are you are missing useful information – and communication isn't happening.
So if I haven't followed back or if I stop following, please don't be offended. I'm sure there are still many others who will gain a lot from your comments.
Even if 99% of your customers are ‘satisfied’, never underestimate the damage the other 1% can do, especially through their social networking.
While positive reviews or recommendations may encourage us to buy, one bad review could be enough to send us rapidly into the arms of another supplier. And that could have a disastrous impact.
Just this week I was looking at Tweets about a company in the same market as one of my clients. The competitor is well established and has an impressive website displayng a good range of products and services. But some of its customers are less enthusiatic, with Tweets along the lines of: “If you have problem, don’t expect them to help you,” and: “They never answer their phone.”
I know where I won’t go shopping.
We all make mistakes, and in business it’s hard not to slip up occasionally. I believe the majority of customers will happily forgive a mistake that is quickly acknowledged and rectified. But if it is not dealt with properly, it should not be a surprise when negative Tweets start to appear.
Sensible companies have crisis communication plans for big problems such as a factory fire or a product recall. On the other hand, how many really know what people are saying about them … and how many recognise a negative comment on a social network as a mini-crisis?
It’s harder to recover from bad comments than it is to prevent them in the first place. So focus on your service. And if you Tweet, check your @mentions regularly – in case you do need to use damage control tactics.
Good communication with customers is part of the added value companies should be delivering with their products. It underpins customer satisfaction. And it’s the best insurance against public complaints. Remember: communicate!
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.