Customer Service by the Tweet

I’m sure there were a few companies that viewed the Twitter enterprise with trepidation when the bluebird first came into our lives. “We just figured out how to interact with our clients on Facebook and now you want us to do it all over again in 140 characters?”

When I first started using Twitter, I was following my favorite sports teams, travel mags and local businesses. I got my news, my tips and my specials all in one place. Back in August 2010, I blogged about Tweet & Travel – paying homage to some of my favorites as I prepared to leave for Spain.

Since then, I’ve been using Twitter on a daily basis. I use it for work (@EIUStudyAbroad) as well as for myself (@kmarieholland). It’s become way more than I originally anticipated, and I’ve gone on record saying that I prefer Twitter over Facebook (gasp!). Why?

It’s more interactive. You can use hashtags (#studyabroad) to link to lists of content and tag users (@eiu) to show them something, or let them know you’re talking about them.
It’s concise. If you can’t say it in 140 characters, you’re out. #sosorry
It’s organized. I use lists to follow my students in each term, or leaders in the field, or interests by topic.
It’s public. Unless you lock down your account, it is open to the wide world. This allows a company to pick up more followers, and reach a wider audience. I would argue this also forces users to rethink how they tailor their messages if they’re going beyond their usual target audience.

What’s the big deal with an interactive social media platform? It’s good customer service, it’s visible and it’s accessible. Here are some recent examples of excellent Twitter users that have interacted with me on various topics:


The big chains may have tons of people working on their social media platforms, but I don’t care. The more reason to buzz them with kudos, questions and comments. Everyone loves data – and this is a measurable form of feedback.


Now this is fun. A local Welsh festival that had their social media tags prominently displayed on their website and all of their print material when I was visiting Wales in June. Those tags are there for a reason, they want to hear from you!

derbyhotelsI always try to take the time to thank hotels, restaurants and other businesses for a good time. I don’t think that Twitter is the right place for serious negative commentary. Take to the airwaves and the Twitterverse with the positive, the pensive and the occasional provocative statement.


ESPN is a huge company, and you’re thinking they’ll never have time to ring you back. Wrong! If you are an ESPN fan you’ll also notice that they will feature fan tweets on a daily basis, when broadcasting the Sports Center Top 10 among others. Your shot at 5 seconds of fame 🙂


I particularly love when local businesses or events are super chatty online. I’m more inclined to look at links they send me, and even more likely to tag them later on when I’m at their event or location.


Here’s my limit on Twitter bitchery. It was 7 a.m. and I was NOT happy. Note: The issue with US Air was ultimately resolved by phone .. but this first msg came within 15 minutes of my tweet. One snag – if you are not following a user, they cannot direct message you. So my second msg some time later from US Air was a “please follow us so we can DM a response.” By then, I’d already gotten someone on the phone.

And without question one of the greatest Twitter convos of all time:

americanairI knew the situation was out of everyone’s control – me, the pilot, the airline. But how great is it that they 1) answered me immediately, and 2) had a sense of humor about it. Kudos to you, @AmericanAir – well played.


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