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Four ways companies use microblogging

C.G. Lynch | Sept. 10, 2008
We take a look at four ways companies and their employees are using Twitter to engage customers.

"Louisiana update: Baton Rouge store open 10a-6p til further notice; we're working on getting New Orleans stores open & will keep you posted."

Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken), a fast food chain, was also keeping its followers updated and reminded them to evacuate the area:

Closed all the Popeyes in southern Louisiana so there is no need to stay. Please evacuate and BE SAFE! I'll be here when you return!

Short, sweet, and helpful.

3. How-To and Service Questions

Some companies such as Comcast (@comcastcares) have begun assigning an employee to take customer questions over Twitter. This level of communication allows for a level of intimacy absent from corporate websites that offer FAQ sections of their site.

Pandora Radio, the free service that provides users with customized radio stations and offers them options to buy music over Amazon or iTunes, has been especially effective. They have a community manager named Lucia that runs the Twitter handle @Pandora_Radio.

Here's an example of a Pandora user who had a question regarding using the "Thumbs Up" feature on Pandora (on the service, when you like a song, you click on a thumbs up button that tells Pandora to play more songs like that one).

@MattDionee: played Jack Johnson on my Foo Fighters station. I want to thumbs up it because I like it but it does not fit the station.

Response from Pandora:

@MattDionne Yeah, thumbs it down if it doesn't fit the station. That feedback won't affect your other stations, don't worry. :) Lucia

4. Humanizing the Head Honcho

CEOs (with some exceptions) have generally been lousy bloggers because they aren't good at it or they don't have time, Fitton says. Now, with microblogging tools like Twitter that integrate with their mobile phones, there is a better opportunity for them to communicate with employees and customers, she says.

BusinessWeek did a slideshow about CEOs on Twitter. It included Sun's CEO, Jonathan Schwartz (@SunCEOBlog), and Tony Hsieh ( @zappos),'s chief executive. The latter has been especially effective at humanizing himself to his Twitter audience, which Fitton says pays dividends in building social capital.

Hsieh's tweets don't always center around, the online retailer. Instead, they give you a glimpse into his day-to-day life:

Haircut @ Great Clips, I wanted sideburns removed. Shocked, they asked if I was sure abt getting rid of my manhood. I said yes. Manhood gone. Just saw a coyote (or fox?) 2 blocks from my house. I got out of my car to say hi, but it ran away. I hope it wasn't looking for @el_gato All of my SF friends twittering about 4.2 earthquake, 1st tweet at 9:01 PM. No way I would have found out about it so quickly w/o twitter


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