Home Articles Finally, a big corporate has learnt how to exploit Twitter

Finally, a big corporate has learnt how to exploit Twitter [Twelpforce]


Now that the new year is well under way, I thought I’d kick it off by reviewing one of the most interesting uses of Twitter last year.

This is not a story about Twitter being used to influence an election or kick-start a sit-com. This is a story about using Twitter commercially.

Retail giant Best Buy has moved social media intelligence and online engagement toward the core of its marketing strategy. But one of its latest moves pushes that philosophy even further. It’s called Twelpforce, and it appears to be a bold and brilliant move.

What the heck is Twelpforce?

Best Buy has set up technical customer service offering centered around Twitter.

Someone sends in a question like “What is the best 3D TV?” or “Which headphones have the best bass?” And a team of Best Buy employees known as its Twelpforce (a contraction of Twitter and Help) respond on Twitter with expert advice. Best Buy, with its Geek Squad, has a good reputation in the United States for providing great advice.

Now that advice has moved to the social web. You can see more on YouTube.

Morphing customer service into customer acquisition

So why is this so brilliant? It’s the insight that customer service and customer acquisition are the same thing.

In the world of technical gadgetry, customers ask questions during the lead-up to a purchase. The easier you can make that process, the quicker you can position your brand as a trusted adviser.

The Best Buy team understands this and has moved the idea beyond the confines of their own brand and out into the social web. They are even now looking for technical questions across all of Twitter with the knowledge that helpful answers lead to sales — even if the questions were not originally about Best Buy merchandise.

Using Twitter to assign KPIs

What I find even more amazing is that a massive organisation like Best Buy has not only successfully adopted a technology like Twitter, but has worked out how to tie staff performance to its use.

Setting up performance indicators to something like “happy customers,” then measuring it, has always been a difficult task. The Twelpforce concept does this while generating sales at the same time.

The bottom line: teamwork

In the end, the one reason this tactic stands out, and why it is paying off, is that the managerial team understands that social media works best when people collaborate.

Rather than having one person use Twitter as a simple PR tool, Best Buys has decentralised it, initiated staff training and created an internal movement based around competitive teamwork.

Simple and brilliant. Like Twitter itself.

Mark Cameron is CEO of Working Three, a digital strategy and implementation agency. He strives to keep the company focused on emerging technologies and industry trends. Speaking regularly around Australia (and the world) on the future social media and digital strategy, Mark stays focused on customers and outcomes, not the technology. He carefully guides his audience through the maze of online connectivity, leading to simple strategic conclusions.