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Georgia Product Development Management Association invited me, Peter Fasano, to present at the December 21, 2010 meeting at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, Ga., on the topic of Social Media.
Raising awareness So instead of using Twitter just to let people know about deals, the company has come to think of it as a good place to interact with customers&#x2014;and to raise awareness about the brand. &#x201C;When we respond to people on Twitter, they get really excited, and we gain advocates.&#x201D; That doesn&#x2019;t mean Dell Outlet has abandoned the deals. In fact, the company often posts offers that are exclusive to Twitter. They twitter only a few times a week so as not to spam their followers, and they use tracking URLs to gauge what followers find most appealing. Increasing sales Do the coupons work? Big time. Not only do they get retweeted and picked up by coupon sites&#x2014;both of which spread the brand name&#x2014;they also drive sales. Dell Outlet has booked more than $3 million in revenue attributable to its Twitter posts. In addition, the division has done research showing that awareness of the outlet has grown, too. &#x201C;The uplift has been more than we dreamed,&#x201D; says Nelson.
Best Buys' new approach to Twitter and I had one of my "ah ha" moments. Best Buys, who have branded themselves in the past as the discount electronics store that offers more knowledgeable employees in their retail stores over other discount electronics retailers and even offered speciality help with it's GeekSquad has launched a service that uses Twitter to answer questions. The program, which is called Twelpforce, is a pretty simple idea, employees sign up on a website with their Twitter ID and when they Tweet using the hash-tag #tweplforce the Tweet is moved to the @twelpforce handle with attribution back to the employee (via @employee handle). The Tweet also shows up on the web site www.bbyconnect.appspot.com (Best Buy Connect), where all Best Buy Twelpforce Tweets are aggregated for search and review. All the employee instructions are also posted in a most transparent way right on the public web site (bravo!). This approach is about as web 2.0ish as you can get, transparent, spreading input across a wide / broad base, shared control and allowing employees to self select what and when they answer questions while using wisdom of crowds to provide a set of answers and comments for customers to review. The concept could work because it's not replacing traditional customer service but instead augmenting it in a new way, it brings the experience of asking the expert in the store to an online searchable real-time conversation. I suppose this process only works for certain types of businesses where there is a broad set of very knowledgeable employees outside of customer service that could address customer questions. It will be interesting to watch as this service, which is only a week or so old, catches on with customers and employees. &#xA0;&#xA0;
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