Best Practices: Engaging Customers
Twitter is most effective when it encourages two-way communication. Unless you’re Shaq, or Oprah, people will soon lose interest in posts that offer up minute details of your everyday life. That means keeping follower’s engaged, which is hard to do in less than 140 characters.
Threadless, Starbucks, and CrowdSpring have found the ultimate way to keep followers curious – crowdsourcing. These companies are using Twitter to ask users for innovative ideas, collaboration on creative projects, or advice.
Threadless uses Twitter to post t-shirt design challenges to its followers. Whether it’s designing a cool t-shirt for a museum, or just submitting an original design, Threadless’ Twitter strategy merges creativity with collaboration. The company is also appealing to non-designers by allowing them to vote on their favorite designs.
The company has even teamed up with Twitter to launch Twitter Tees by Threadless, a store for crowdsourced Twitter tees. These t-shirts feature Tweets submitted by, and voted on, by followers.
CrowdSpring uses the same model to post information on creative projects. The company also uses Twitter to give freelance designers advice on everything from typography to contracts, and answer questions about the CrowdSpring process. The crowdsourcing model motivates followers to keep checking the Twitter stream for new projects, and provides CrowdSpring with tangible feedback in the form of submitted designs and votes.
Starbucks is using Twitter as an extension of its “My Starbucks Idea” initiative. The company encourages customers to share novel ideas – “from ways we could improve to things we’ve never even thought of.” Followers can post an idea on Twitter, or provide feedback on others’ suggestions. Starbucks makes a concerted effort to communicate directly with followers with lots of @ messages.
Crowdsourcing via Twitter can inspire the formation of a true online community. Through collaboration on projects and processes, followers feel a sense of investment that strengthens the bonds between individuals and the company.