Tapping Twitter to Understand Customers and Develop Personas

Who cares about Twitter?

The microblogging network has enjoyed impressive 343% Y-O-Y growth and is the fastest growing US social network according to Nielsen Online. Some claim Twitter attracts 2000 new users a day.

Wouldn’t you like to know if people are “Tweeting” about you, your company or your products? What are they saying?

A simple way to find out is to use Twitter’s own search engine.

After you perform a search, you can subscribe to the search keyword through RSS:

Or you can sign up with TweetBeep and get Google Alerts style updates every time your tracked keyword or URL is mentioned.

Reputation Monitoring and More

Monitoring Twitter mentions of your brand names is akin to listening in on a conversation – you may hear something you like (ego gratification!) or you don’t (your customer service or ads stink, your product is low quality). If you have affiliates, you may also see how frequently your deals and promotions are pushed and by who.

If someone is having a problem with your customer service, consider reaching out to them and making good. If you identify an evangelist, you may want to reach out and thank them for their kind words, and offer them a special gift or gift card.

Using Twitter to Develop Personas

You’d be surprised how much you can learn about one person through Twitter. For example, real Twitter user @Torrie became an LL Bean customer after she asked her Twitter friends where she could find a good swimsuit. She had considered Land’s End but wanted something less expensive.

One of her followers wanted to direct message her, but since @Torrie wasn’t mutually following her, she had to Tweet it publicly:

Apparently @Torrie got many helpful responses, but LL Bean won her business, and she informed her network (and the whole Internet):

Now, if you want to build a persona for an LL Bean customer, why not gather as much information about @Torrie as you can? She’s shared a lot about herself in her Tweets and on her blog which is linked from her Twitter profile. I learned that @Torrie is:

  • 32 years old, but “in denial about it” (since when was 32 old, come on!)
  • Married 11 years to a doctor who works long hours, she loves him dearly and misses him a lot during the day while she cares for an almost-two-year-old
  • Ex-pastry chef turned portrait photographer
  • Grew up in Manhattan, now lives in the suburbs
  • “Vegetarian, recycling, yoga-practicing, organic hippie”
  • Voted Obama
  • Self described complainer, not afraid to complain on her blog or through Twitter (her blog is called “I Pretty Much Hate Everything”)
  • Among her hates are commercials and “not being able to get a real live person on the phone”
  • She’s bummed there is not a Babies R Us in her area
  • She really likes eco-friendly stuff, in fact, she blogs about stuff she doesn’t hate on her product reviews blog “Stuff I Don’t Hate” (she’s an Amazon affiliate)
  • Blogger since 2003, contributes to Alpha Mom Guide to Everything and is a member of the BlogHer Network

LL Bean, @Torrie is now your customer. There are certain assumptions you can make:

  • @Torrie trusts her social network and her social network trusts her
  • With her busy mom lifestyle and her technical savvy, she’s likely to be comfortable researching and shopping online. Convenience is important
  • She knows her budget and sticks to it
  • Customer service is important to her
  • She’d rather buy green products from ethical, socially and environmentally responsible companies
  • She’s on Twitter, and may prefer to receive deals and offers through Twitter than email or RSS
  • She’s a potential affiliate

Questions I have for LL Bean:

  • Are you listening to customer conversations about your brand? Are you tracking Twitter?
  • Do you have a plan for outreach to both evangelists and unsatisfied customers?
  • Do you provide price filters that help customers with a price range in mind narrow product selection?
  • If a customer were looking for sustainable or “green” products, could he/she find them through navigation or search? What shows up when a user searches for “eco friendly” or “green”?
  • What shows up for a site search on “yoga”?
  • Are you offering alternative communication methods like Twitter or mobile for tech-savvy shoppers?
  • Does your affiliate manager have a strategy for reaching out to people like @Torrie? How easy is your affiliate program information to find on your website?

And don’t forget the Twitter user that recommended LL Bean to @Torrie, what’s her story?

Now I don’t suggest you rely solely on Twitter for your persona development, or stalk every single person that mentions you. Just keep Twitter in mind for your persuasion, reputation management and social media marketing programs.

Did you know you can follow me and Jason Billingsley on Twitter?


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10 Responses to “Tapping Twitter to Understand Customers and Develop Personas”

  1. [...] from GetElastic talks about how to build a Twitter search and get the results by RSS.  Now that Twitter Search is working reliably, this is exactly how I do it. addthis_url = [...]

  2. Dr. Pete says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how demographics shift as the Twitter population grows, but many of the people talking about companies on Twitter now aren’t just typical buyers, they’re potential brand evangelists. They’re the kind of people who will talk up a brand (for better or worse) and can have a huge impact, much moreso than your “average” satisfied shopper.

    Quick note on TweetBeep – it’ll track URLs even if they’re shortened by a 3rd party service, which is incredibly useful on Twitter. I was just alerted to a very important message over the weekend thanks to TweetBeep that I would’ve missed through other tracking.

  3. I would like to hire someone by the hour to better design my site for different Personas, but I am unsure who would be good.

    Any ideas?

  4. Twitter and your brand. This weekend Motrin made what seems to be a big mistake with there advertising, and the Tweeters have jumped all of it.
    In the past 18 hTwitter and your brand build it or hurt it.

    This weekend Motrin made what seems to be a big mistake with their advertising, and the Tweeters have jumped all of it.

    In the past 18 hours there have been over 1500 tweets about #motrinmoms http://budurl.com/f5tc

    Even Forbes covered this story this morning http://budurl.com/jgj6

    Click here to watch the video that has created all of the fuss http://budurl.com/lcxk
    ours there have been over 1500 tweets about motrinmoms http://budurl.com/f5tc
    Even Forbes covered this story this morning http://budurl.com/jgj6
    Click here to watch the video that has created all of the fuss http://budurl.com/lcxk

  5. I like your real life case study, and think it’s a great working example of how to use Twitter tracking to find “evangelists” as well as those who are less than enthused with your product / service.

    The idea of reaching-out / rewarding evangelists is one I had not though of, but it’s a great idea! Thanks for the suggestions.

  6. I totally agree – Twitter can be a great tool for brand monitoring and management. But I think its real strength is the ability to interact with customers.

    Companies can create their own Twitter accounts so they can communicate directly with potential or current customers. On a few different occasions, I’ve tweeted something about a company (sometimes positive, sometimes not) and gotten an @reply on Twitter from a representative of the company, often within minutes. I can tell you from experience that if I’m having a problem with something and someone from that company contacts me on Twitter, I am much more likely to remain a happy customer.

    These interactions can be public or private, but I think the smartest ones are public. Other Twitter users can see these public conversations and they will remember fast and friendly responses to customer issues. I love that companies like Zappos and Etsy are responsive to my needs and that I feel like I can contact them anytime on Twitter. Etsy even retweeted a blog post I wrote about them, and they have thousands of followers! It was great for my blog’s traffic.

    In addition, I feel like there should be interaction reciprocation. Companies shouldn’t just lurk around on Twitter, waiting for someone to tweet about them. They need to be posting their own content, getting involved in the community and providing value on their own. The new way of the web is to participate. The most successful brands will be the ones who are getting in there and talking to people, not just watching from the wings.

  7. I thought it was timely that HGTV has just rolled out gift-giving personas on their site. Here’s another great way to bring personas to life. http://marketplace.hgtv.com/ShopPersona Note: The tool is still a little buggy, at least for me.

  8. Ironic that LL Bean doesn’t have a twitter account…

  9. [...] Retail Email Sell or Inform? An A/B Split Test Case Study Tapping Twitter to Understand Customers and Develop Personas CSN Stores Eases Howsers Last Minute [...]

  10. I essentially chose to just say screw the difficulty of waiting around months and years for a respectable following and put to use a twitter followers provider to obtain me 1k followers. They in reality have all stuck around and I’ve obtained 40 retweets in the past week, 40 additional than I had ever received before. Bliss. Seriously nevertheless there are a lot of these types of guys on the market, but I considered them skilled. Also you can get some free scripts and such in other areas however I am not a programmer so won’t be able to use them.

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