There’s certainly not even a remote bit of controversy in saying that customers are truly the lifeblood that sustains the survival of businesses today. But are you doing everything you can to stay connected?

Once that relationship with the customer is solidified, you are there for them through thick and thin. You take all of their phone calls, meet in person to talk strategy, respond to emails on a dime, and do everything in your power to make sure they are happy and the relationships grow.

But you might be ignoring one incredibly important channel to connect with your customers in the 21st century: social media. It’s a mistake to be made at your own peril, and a significant opportunity to cultivate good will toward your brand if used correctly.

You’ve probably heard the ever-climbing statistics by now:

  • Facebook has approximately 1 billion users worldwide
  • Twitter has approximately 500 million users worldwide
  • LinkedIn has approximately 200 million users worldwide

It’s not a stretch to say that many of your customers are active social media users, and there’s also a good chance they may be talking about you on their social avenue(s) of choice. In terms of Twitter, specifically, a recent study showed that 56% of customer tweets to companies are being ignored.

Would you ever not return a phone call from a customer? Would you ever ignore his or her emails? Of course not! So why would you miss out on offering a meaningful response to a tweet?

Listening is Key

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With Twitter smashing previous records this year with 33,388 tweets per second issued around the New Year, it’s easy to view the channel as a messy, impenetrable mass of information. Because of that, using Twitter on its own generally isn't enough for brands.

You might know that you should use a person, place or thing’s Twitter handle whenever referring to him, her or it in a tweet so that the relevant party is informed and can respond, but not everyone is a social media guru like you.

However, there are some great, free tools available to help you make sense of the madness and start engaging your clientele.

Two of the more common social media dashboard applications available are TweetDeck and HootSuite, and they both offer simple ways to filter the stream (or perhaps more appropriately: ocean) of tweets to see what people are saying about your brand.

Use these tools to set up search columns for the name of your brand, the names of your products, and any other key terms or hashtags related to your company. Now, you have a clear window into what is being said about your brand and you can create a strategy to respond appropriately. And remember: you must respond!

Develop a Response Strategy

Now that you have your social “ear to the ground,” it’s time to determine how you will respond to customers and others who tweet about your brand. While massive companies like Microsoft have entire teams dedicated to monitoring and responding to tweets, you may be a lone ranger in your growing operation.