Twitter turned three years old this weekend and those who are now converts/addicts must wonder how we ever lived without it. And while Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb has taken the time to hail its significance to social media, Forrester analyst, Jeremiah Owyang, is describing how companies are starting to ask questions about Twitter that suggest it’s now considered a serious business tool.
But how is it working for companies and their customers in the UK?
Travel writer, Mark Hodson, has been tasked by the Times to vet the Twitter performance of various travel companies , and interesting reading it makes.
And taking the example of each travel company in turn provides a handy illustration of some of the better principles of using Twitter. So…
Easy Jet - A real human being makes good customer service accessible and fixes problems.
Lonely Planet - Gathers useful/interesting travel tips from real people and makes them easily searchable via a hash tag.
Brittany Ferries - Shares good deals with its Twitter followers.
Mr & Mrs Smith – Is responsive to customer queries.
Black Tomato - Is conversational rather than salesy and drives people to other content online.
Visit Britain - Shares useful ideas.
Thomson Holidays - Communicates to customers’ concerns in a crisis (in this case, flights to places affected by Swine Flu).
Hodson also takes a look at some travel Twitter feeds distinctly underperforming – namely Virgin Atlantic and London City Airport – which share a similar problem: seemingly having no clear idea of what to do on Twitter or why.
But his appraisal of Butlins’ Twitter feed seems a bit harsh. After all, it provides offers; monitors and responds to discussion of its brand (including Hodson’s piece in the Times); finds and re-uses positive, third party mentions of Butlins; provides teasers for new openings; directs followers to other content online and handles customer complaints openly and sympathetically. Maybe Mr Hodson just doesn’t like Butlins; or maybe I’m still overwhelmed by my 1975 visit to Butlins at Bognor Regis that’s never been bettered.
OK, I exaggerate…
(Thanks to @adrian_johnson for bringing the original article to our attention)