All too often, clients’ say, “We haven’t really gotten into Twitter yet. It’s too confusing and takes up too much time.” Or ask, “What’s the real value in Twitter? We never get any real traction and we tweet ALL the time.”

Did you know that, according to a study by Daze Info, 56% of tweets to companies are being ignored? I assume this statistic will increase as businesses remain reluctant to showcasing their brand on Twitter. In this blog post, I will discuss two very simple and effective functions of search that help to increase customer service and leads.

Searching on Twitter

Before I begin every ‘Twitter 101’ session during social media training, the first thing I have the client do is Twitter Searchperform a very basic Twitter search on their name to see what people are saying about them. The results are always shocking, whether positive or negative. Searching a keyword(s) on Twitter (i.e. the name of your business) will bring up search results page for that word or phrase.

Often, Twitter users indirectly talk about brands (both positive and negative experiences) without tagging them in tweets, and it’s our job as marketers to find this chatter and control it.  I suggest responding to all feedback; if it’s negative, provide a solution and take the conversation offline. If it’s positive, re-tweet it and/or reply with a thank you.

Basic search is simple; type in your brand and see what people are saying. It’s done manually and should happen each time you sign-in to Twitter. You can also set up web apps like Twilert or TweetAlarm to receive regular email updates when Twitter users tweet about your brand or product, but this should be done on top of utilizing this search function.

One of the more advanced search functions that I encourage you to take advantage of is Twitter Search. This search function is designed to find people in specific locations talking about specific keywords. The two fields to focus on are ‘Words’ and ‘Places.’ In the automotive industry, an example I like to use is the chatter around oil changes on Twitter. People often tweet about oil changes and their experiences with dealerships or auto repair centers.

For a dealership in Milford, NH, you could search ‘oil change’ in the ‘All of these words’ field and ‘Milford, NH’ in the ‘Near this place’ field. It’s important to adjust the destination to 15-25 miles for the most relevant results.

If someone had a bad experience at a service center near that city, they might have tweeted, “OMG, I waited 5 hours for an oil change in this dingy service center!” A dealership’s response to them could be, “Come to XYZ dealership next time and enjoy our free WI-FI and café while you wait. Print coupon: (link to coupon).” The next time this person needs an oil change, they may remember this dealership.

If customer service and improving leads is something you value, I encourage you to adopt these two Twitter search functions immediately. Whether people are talking about your brand specifically or a competitor, you can take control of the conversation!