You may have noticed the recent upheaval at Twitter. It is causing some brands to have a crisis of confidence, leaving them wondering whether it's time to "break up" with Twitter.
After months of speculation and posturing around buying the social media giant, Elon Musk spent $44 billion on the platform in October 2022. That process and ensuing events have been lively, to say the least. But looking past all the drama and speculation, it's easy to forget that Twitter is a key communication tool for companies across the world.
Twitter's public social media and private messaging elements are not only unique but also important components in many brands' digital customer engagement strategy. From a marketing and customer service perspective, Twitter is the worldwide gold standard for companies wishing to communicate with their customers.
Although most of Twitter's revenue comes from advertising, the platform generates about $570 million from data licensing: Brands use the platform for customer service and promotions messaging. Moreover, increasingly, Twitter direct messaging is being used by brands to communicate on a one-on-one asynchronous messaging basis—offering customers an always-on, convenient, and personalized customer service channel along the lines of how they communicate with friends and family.
Private messaging is hugely popular among consumers, especially those 45 and under. Half of all younger consumers engage with companies via messaging channels, Verint's State of Digital CX report found.
So, what should brands using Twitter for social customer service do?
Twitter is the highest adopted social media channel by businesses looking to use both the public platform and direct messaging channels.
At Verint, we analyze social media channel use among our customer base—85 Fortune 100 companies and thousands of other brands worldwide. Our analysis has not found a noticeable reduction in the volume of customer conversations on Twitter. It remains the most widely adopted social media channel among our customers, who report continued value in both the public and private services.
Sticking With Twitter
Twitter is still a viable and important platform, especially for customer engagement.
Even though its daily active user base is much smaller than those of WhatsApp or Instagram, for instance, the public nature of Twitter's platform helps it stand out as a place for convenient and immediate connection.
The analysis in Verint's Guide to Digital-First Engagement in the Energy Industry found that when contact centers had a huge surge in digital conversations and volume spiked 120%, Twitter was the channel of choice for most people reaching out to their energy suppliers. When consumers want instant communication and swift resolution, they consider Twitter the platform best positioned to assist.
Providing a smooth route to resolution was the key for energy companies handling that spike. It's a philosophy that businesses that choose to stick with Twitter can adopt when trying to preserve their reputations in the midst of a crisis.
Concentrating on transitioning Twitter conversations from public to direct message is perhaps the easiest way to control the narrative when interacting with customers. Private messaging conversations remove doubt from consumers' minds that they are chatting with a genuine company—while providing brands with opportunity to deliver personalized engagement and a seamless resolution.
Sticking with Twitter is an understandable decision, but it may require a change in customer engagement strategy to maintain a level of control and order.
Exploring Diversification With Alternative Social Messaging Channels
Even if brands decide to stick with Twitter, they may wish to also explore other avenues for digital engagement.
Many are considering a two-pronged approach of continuing with Twitter while exploring other digital customer engagement options.
Although Twitter is unrivaled for accessibility, immediacy, and quick connection, there are other options for personalized, safe, and asynchronous customer interaction. WhatsApp, for example, doesn't have the visible accessibility of Twitter and enjoys less market penetration in the US compared with other parts of the world, but it does have more than 2 billion active users worldwide, and it can be automated at scale.
There's no apples-for-apples alternative to Twitter, so using an alternative private messaging channel would require a strategic effort to make customers aware of the new way of communicating.
The key to successful digital interactions isn't necessarily being on every channel available, however; it's understanding which ones your customers use and engaging them there. Then, personalized customer experiences are made possible by plugging into solutions that monitor traffic and use and allow companies to connect a customer's journey across multiple touchpoints.
Although choosing a channel is often dictated by customer preference, each channel's features should also be considered:
- WhatsApp and Apple Business Chat offer secure encryption of messaging, giving consumers peace of mind when sharing personal information.
- Integrated shopping experiences are possible using Facebook Messenger and Instagram Messages; they allow for entire retail journeys from customer acquisition to order tracking all within a single messaging conversation.
- If companies want universal reach, two-way conversations via SMS—an "opt out" channel—enables brands to reach 100% of their mobile audience with ease.
Plenty of alternative solutions provide accessible, immediate, and personalized communication via digital channels. It's just about finding the right partner to fulfill your customer engagement needs.
Staying the Course While Keeping Options Open for Social Success
Twitter's spike in the news may have caused an exodus of advertisers, but it's a blip on the radar in customer engagement. Verint's analysis found no notable reduction in the volume of customer interactions on Twitter, and we advise brands to stay the course because their customers are still using it.
If anything, the recent events are a shakeup of a public platform about to become more fiercely public, which is even more reason to stay, considering Twitter's unique differentiator in the public domain. However, now may also be a good time to diversify your social media presence by considering new social and private messaging platforms for customer engagement.
More Resources on Twitter and Brands on Social Media
Marketers' Top Worries About Twitter
Why Your Business (Still) Needs to Be on Twitter: 'The Tao of Twitter' Author Mark Schaefer on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
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