If it seems like just about everyone’s on Twitter these days, there’s a good reason—the social media megasite has just under 650 million users. People around the world use the site to share media, share updates about their lives, and, increasingly, to interact with celebrities and corporations.
Compliments, reviews, requests and complaints that used to be voiced to one’s friends or sent in a letter are now broadcast to a global audience—instantly. Ever wary of customer dissatisfaction, brands big and small have taken notice. Many companies now have Twitter accounts dedicated solely to customer service.
The sheer number of users, coupled with the potential impact of a negative tweet going viral on the Internet, companies are very cognizant of the potential customers at stake. And with more than two thirds of Twitter users expecting a response to their tweets within 24 hours, it’s no surprise that 95 percent of brands use the service to engage with their current and potential customers every single day.
Yet even in a world where tweets have become a part of every successful brand’s marketing toolkit, some individuals and companies have managed to elevate Twitter to something of an art form, leveraging customer service, marketing savvy, and good old-fashioned personability to dominate the Twittersphere. Some, such as JetBlue (@JetBlue), American Airlines (@AmericanAir), and Rackspace (@Rackspace), make customer service a priority and dedicate significant resources to addressing customer questions and concerns in record time.
Other brands are more focused on boosting the bottom line through sales and eCommerce—including online fashion retailer ASOS (@ASOS), whose #BestNightEver campaign helped push the company’s sales to £78 million ($127,413,000) in December 2012 alone.
In the non-profit sector, organizations such as the American Red Cross (@RedCross) and Movember (@Movember) used strategic partnerships and promotional hashtags to raise serious funds for their respective causes.
It’s not always easy to be sincere, informative, funny, and compelling in just 140 characters, and few modern media streams can compare to Twitter when it comes to leveraging the power of pithiness. But these champions of Twitter have managed to do just that, by developing winning strategies for interacting with their followers, addressing their customers’ needs, and making a difference.
The Reigning Champions of Twitter
A recent Simply Measured study revealed that 99% of brands are on Twitter. Although small businesses may have paved the way for Twitter marketing success, the world’s largest brands are adopting the platform as both a customer service and marketing tool at an increasing rate. Let’s take a look at which companies — big and small — have seen the most success with Twitter.
Champions of Customer Service
A report from Simply Measured revealed that the number Interbrand Top 100 Brands (the world’s top brands) with a dedicated customer service Twitter account increased 30% (from 23 to 30) between December 2012 and May 2013.
- According to the study, the average response rate to all customer service mentions was 42%.
- Ford achieved the best response rate at 75%.
- Only 5 of the dedicated support accounts maintained response rates greater than 60%.
- The average response time for a customer support mentions was 5.1 hours, which can be a very long time on Twitter.
- Each of the top 10 brands by mentions averaged response times less than 24 hours.
- Microsoft, American Express, and UPS were fastest brands to respond to customers, replying to mentions in under two hours.
- Microsoft was the fastest at just 42 minutes.
Microsoft’s Xbox 312,000 followers, approx. 160,000 daily mentions
The Xbox Support feed (@XboxSupport) has tweeted an astonishing 1.3 million times.
- According to its bio it holds the Guinness World Record for being the most responsive brand on Twitter.
- The account has a very informal tone, often referring to customers as ‘mate,’ and is extremely proactive at making sure that problems get resolved, according to econsultancy.com.
Nike 1.8 million followers, approx. 78,000 daily mentions
Nike (@NikeStore) responds to more than 100 tweets per day regarding order queries, stock information, and product details.
- They handle a large number of mentions to dish out training advice, product information, and encouragement to followers.
- The @NikeSupport (100,200 followers, 390 daily mentions) feed resolves hundreds of product questions and technical needs per day.
- According to Socialbakers’ Socially Devoted Brand Survey for Q1 2013, Nike dominated the top 10 companies in the U.S. with a response rate of 79.5% and an average response time of 140 minutes.
- Nike stole the 2012 London Olympics spotlight away from official sponsor Adidas with the use of billboards and a Twitter campaign focused on everyday athletes.
- According to Socialbakers’ CheerMeter there were 72% more tweets (16,000) associating Nike with the word Olympic between July 27th and August 2nd than Adidas (9,295).
The Winner: JetBlue 1.7 million followers, approx. 450 daily mentions
JetBlue recognized that thousands of travelers were tweeting about their in-flight experiences, whether on JetBlue or other airlines, so they began responding to each disgruntled traveller in the nicest way possible one-by-one.
- They have the largest Twitter following among any airline, despite being a much smaller business than competitors Delta and United.
- Of the top 10 U.S. companies in the Socialbakers survey, JetBlue had the quickest average response time at 13 minutes and a response rate of 79.1%.
Champion of Sales
Twitter has partnered with Datalogix to measure the impact of promoted and organic tweets on offline sales.
Testing by Twitter has shown that engagement drives greater in-store sales by 12% over a control group, and brands’ organic tweets drive sales by 8% over a control group.
According to Social Media Quickstarter, 50% of users say that they are more likely to buy from a brand after they follow them on Twitter.
Namecheap.com saw a 30% increase in traffic when they ran a Super Bowl promo on Twitter.
Classic Harbor Line 980 followers, 10 daily mentions
PR professional Will Candis of Candis Communications helped New York City boat tour operator, Classic Harbor Line (@ClassicHarbor), generate more than $2,000 in sales acting on their behalf.
- Candis posted about standard cruises being offered as well as a beer-tasting cruise using the popular hashtag #beer to identify a unique market niche and saw great success.
- He also involved other local businesses in Classic Harbor’s Twitter campaign.
- Candis tweeted exclusive boat tour offers to concierges he knew at local hotels that they could then pass along to their guests.
The Winner: ASOS 532,400 followers, approx. 3,300 daily mentions
Online fashion retailer ASOS won a 2013 Media Lion in Cannes for its global digital Christmas campaign.
- Using the #BestNightEver hashtag, the campaign helped drive more than $7.8 million (£5m) worth of sales in the U.S. and the UK.
- In the UK, the campaign helped the brand register its highest ROI to date.
- Searches for ASOS in the U.S. soared by more than 50%.
- Featuring singers Ellie Goulding (@elliegoulding) and Azelia Banks (@Azealiabanks) and model Charlotte Free (@Charlotte_free), the campaign was designed to help generate big seasonal sales and grow the brand in new markets without requiring a big budget.
- The celebs involved in the campaign used their own social channels and networks to promote the videos and ASOS offered fans the chance to win the clothes they were wearing.
Champions of Social Commerce
Social commerce is the use of social network(s) in the context of e-commerce transactions.
Revenues for the social commerce market are expected to reach $30 billion by 2015.
The move towards social commerce is logical because about 81% of consumers receive advice from friends and family relating to a product purchase through a social networking site.
The majority — about 74 % — of consumers rely on social networks to guide their purchases, according to Gartner.
Chirpify 3,100 followers, 16 daily mentions
Chirpify is a social commerce platform that turns tweets into transactions, enabling consumers and businesses to buy, sell, and donate on Twitter.
- Chirpify says that it is adding more than 300 users each day and touts a 5% conversion rate.
- In April of 2013, the company raised a $2 million Series A round of funding from Voyager Capital, having last raised $1.2 million.
- They also recently added 3 new customers with exceptional influence: Sports brand Puma and rappers Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg.
The Winner: Dell 172,000 followers, 3,600 daily mentions and Dell Outlet 1.5 million followers, 3 daily mentions
In 2009, Dell’s @DellOutlet account generated more than $2 million in sales within its first 2 years of operation.
- According to Dell, leads from the @DellOutlet account and visits to Dell.com/outlet ultimately led to new purchases from Dell.com, accounting for another $1 million in sales via Twitter.
- Dell also saw 34% conversion rate for turning ‘ranters’ into ‘ravers’ by having the @DellCares and the @DellCaresPRO Twitter accounts, according to KISSmetrics.
Champions of Fundraising
47% of Americans learn about causes on social media and online channels, according to an Avectra survey.
According to MDG Advertising, using Twitter during fundraising events can result in 10X more money raised online.
74% of nonprofits have reported being on Twitter.
The average cost of a Twitter follower for nonprofits is $2.05.
American Red Cross 1 million followers, approx. 1,000 daily mentions
During the holidays, American Red Cross (@RedCross) partnered with Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark (@CraigNewmark), to successfully raise $20,000.
- Both organizations used a Promoted Tweet asking Twitter users to respond with their idea of the perfect gift using the hashtag #PerfectGift and a link to the donation website.
- Newmark agreed to match each Retweet or @reply with a $1 donation, up to $10,000.
- The success of this campaign has been attributed to its simplicity, the powerful partnership, the Promoted Tweet, and the act of asking for a retweet.
- On an average day, @RedCross is mentioned 4,000 times across the social web, and 60% of those mentions are on Twitter.
The Winner: Movember 41,000 followers, approx. 230 daily mentions (off-season)
Movember and Bros successfully raised $19 million from a total of 209,000 donators to change the face of men’s health in the U.S.
- $3.6 million was raised worldwide from 1.1 million contributors.
- With these funds, the Movember Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and the LIVESTRONG Foundation are able to develop innovative, world-class programs in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship, and research.
- The organization used a variety of web and social platforms as well as strategic partnerships to promote the campaign, including Twitter.
- @movember has a twitter stream full of recognition, thanks, and retweets.
Champions of Authenticity
MochaDad 12,000 followers, approx. 22 daily mentions
Frederick Goodall’s (@MochaDad) Twitter relationships have led to increased speaking opportunities including the BBSummmit12 Conference, the Niche Mommy Conference, and the National Latism Conference.
- He also credits his professional consulting engagements with large national brands like Kellogg’s, Pepperidge Farm, Dove, Sears, Samsung, and more to initial Twitter interactions.
- His integrity, honesty, compassion, and natural desire to help others carries over to his Twitter account.
- Frederick says he routinely shares and retweets other people’s links and offers “to help anyone and everyone without ever seeking anything return.”
- Frederick advises to be your genuine self on Twitter and to extend the relationships they make beyond Twitter.
- “Twitter is a good place to make initial contacts, but real relationships need to be nurtured.”
Amanda Palmer 900,000 followers, approx. 750 daily mentions
Musician Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) made $11,000 in 2 hours after a tweet that spurred a business idea.
- It all started with her tweeting about how she was alone again on a Friday night sitting in front of her computer.
- Others started chiming in and began claiming how “we are all losers.”
- Dialog continued and grew at a rapid pace and a faux organization was started called, “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.”
- Amanda created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation.
- After a follower suggested the group create a t-shirt, Amanda quickly decided to run with it creating a t-shirt design with a sharpie.
- A website was thrown up that night with the t-shirts available for $25 a piece. 2 hours later… $11,000.
The Winner: Stacey Ferreira 1,400 followers, approx. 3 daily mentions
In 2011, Stacey Ferreira (@StaceyFerreira) Founder of MySocialCloud and then recent high school grad landed nearly $1 million in venture capital for her startup because of a tweet.
- The Twitter newbie saw a tweet from Sir Richard Branson inviting anyone who donated $2,000 to his charity to a private cocktail event.
- She replied to him asking if she could attend although she was under age, and he agreed to meet her in person.
- Her and her Co-Founder (and brother) borrowed the money from their parents and flew down.
- Branson and a business partner were impressed with her business plan, leading to the venture capital offering.
- She credits her Twitter success to paying attention to influencers and making lists.
- Twitter Success Story: Mocha Dad Lands More Speaking Gigs With Twitter – sproutsocial.com
- Five good and four bad examples of brands using Twitter – econsultancy.com
- 30% of top brands have dedicated Twitter feeds for customer service – econsultancy.com
- 30% of the Top Brands Are Investing in Customer Service on Twitter [STUDY] – simplymeasured.com
- Top 5 Most Socially Devoted Brands on Twitter [Survey] – clickz.com
- Twitter Success Story: Candis Communications – sproutsocial.com
- 4 Startups Revolutionizing Social Commerce – mashable.com
- Chirpify gets $2M to further growth in social commerce, adds Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg as customers – thenextweb.com
- @DellOutlet Surpasses $2 Million on Twitter – en.community.dell.com
- What Can You Learn from These 6 Companies That Thrive On Twitter? – blog.kissmetrics.com
- Twitter Partners to Measure Offline Sales Impact of Tweets – marketingpilgrim.com
- Case Studies on Successful Online Music Marketing – musicthinktank.com
- The Power of One – blog.avectra.com
- Twitter Success Stories: The American Red Cross – business.twitter.com
- 2012: It Was a Very Good Year for Social Giving [Infographic] – mdgadvertising.com
- Movember 2012 Review – us.movember.com
- Twitter Success Story: Stacey Ferreira Lands a Million Dollar Tweet – sproutsocial.com