Twitter has become the ultimate social media tool for retailers. It gives them a powerful way to interact with their customers on a daily basis, providing them with great offers as they happen, while also remaining as more personal service for building trust and consumer loyalty.
If you don't have an active Twitter account in 2013, your business might as well be dead to the new social media savvy customers that have emerged in the last few years.
So, how do you go about bolstering your Twitter account and creating a thriving community for your business? It doesn't even matter how large you are, even the smallest of independent retailers can make waves in the Twittersphere.
Here are just five retailers who are doing everything right when it comes to Twitter consumer interaction – and thus should be followed rather carefully.
Follower Count: 61,651
After having gone through a hard financial time at the end of 2011, and then quickly acquired by a new owner, GAME has managed to grow itself into a powerhouse of consumer interaction within Twitter and social media services.
Thanks to the efforts of prevalent Twitterer Aaron Cooper and the rest of GAME's consumer PR team, GAME has managed to craft a community who actively interact with the business and remain loyal to the company and its online and various retail outlets.
This has been no easy feat, mind, but thanks to pushing out community content with competitions, questions, picture sharing and sneak peaks of upcoming video games, GAME has managed to whet the appetites of fans while providing them with the latest deals and offers.
Pleasingly, GAME's individual stores also have Twitter accounts of their own so consumers can feel really connected to each of their stores – familiarising themselves with the staff and the offers specific to their local store.
Follower Count: 70,391
It's hardly surprising that Tesco, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the world, have a rather popular Twitter account. But what is surprising is just how customer friendly they are for a rather large corporation – where it would be rather easy to remain largely faceless and personality free.
Despite not having as niche an area of business like many other retailers do, Tesco has managed to create a Twitter account that has many fans. This is all because of their cheeky attitude towards the account, along with diligent responses to customer problems and issues – which must be numerous in number.
It was even better in dealing with the horsemeat fiasco that gripped UK food retail throughout January and February, providing tongue-in-cheek responses that won over audiences to their cause.
The lesson to be learnt here is that if you want to be successful in the Twitterspehere, make sure you utilise a good dose of humour when it's needed – it goes a long way.
3. Home Depot
Follower Count: 110,111
The Home Depot Twitter provides exactly what its customers want: deals and advice.
Being the number one stop for many North American citizens for their hardware needs, Home Depot's Twitter gives them helpful tips and tricks on how to effortlessly improve their home. It just happens to also use such an opportunity to sell relevant products in the process.
By doing this, Home Depot ensures that they are getting customers continually through the door, and it re-enforces the idea that all the staff members know exactly what the consumer could want. It plants the notion that Home Depot are a friendly and helpful company, giving their customers insight into what's best practice for them, while also providing the solution to their problems.
It may not be the most interesting of Twitter accounts to follow – as it's rather dry compared to other accounts out there – but it definitely provides a service that ensures brand loyalty in what can be a rather niche market.
4. Urban Outfitters
Follower Count: 641,035
Urban Outfitters clothe the perennially teenage, providing expensive fashion that embodies the music and art tastes of the increasingly large â€˜alternative' scene across the various arts.
They know this, of course, and so their Twitter feed embodies everything about the company in one place for their customers to enjoy.
Whoever runs the Urban Outfitters Twitter doesn't just respond to customer queries and promote sales and new lines of clothing, they also push out interesting new music, â€˜cool' new videos and movies, along with internet curios that their customers are interested in.
They aren't just positioning themselves as a Twitter for a retail clothing brand, they're providing their customers with a one-stop shop for everything they love.
It's because of this that they get repeated business, gain customer loyalty, and ensure that consumers feel that the company are just like they are.
Follower Count: 1,485,362
Dell, the computer manufacturing powerhouse that supplies affordable home and business IT solutions, has one of the biggest retailer Twitter accounts by far.
Clocking in with a follower count of nearly one and a half million, along with news that it's the most profitable Twitter account around (taking a staggering $6.5 million in sales according to Bloomberg), Dell are definitely doing something right.
Clearly their popularity comes from the content they tweet. Actively interacting with customers by replying to those who mention them by Twitter handle or by company name, as well as replying to customer queries.
But just how do they drive so much positive revenue though their Twitter account?
That's right, Dell periodically drop a delicious discount code into one of their tweets, along with a direct link to the product it applies on. The discount code alone is enough to drive thousands of customers seeking a bargain to their site through their Twitter account. They may have lost some of their potential profits on each single sale, but they've made so many more sales than before it's definitely worth the risk.
So, what can you take away from all of this?
If you want to create a loyal customer base with your company, a strong Twitter account is key. You'll want to ensure that you're interacting with them exactly as they expect the company to do. You want to be providing them with interesting content that can be easily digested. Ideally, you'll probably also want to cut the business guff (unless your clientele demands professionalism) and deliver amusing and informative Tweets.
After all, who wants to follow dull accounts that tweet the same dry stuff ad nauseam?
Loyalty World Canada 2013 is happening as we speak, but for more tips, tricks and all the insight surrounding how to build and utilise customer loyalty, you can still attend Loyalty World Mexico 2013 and Loyalty World Central Europe 2013. It's really easy to find out more as all you have to do is download the brochure.