ImageGot Twitter? You’ve got a 24-7 customer service call line, whether you like it or not.

The evolution of Twitter as a real-time channel leaves an expectation with your fans that you are present. You may think of Twitter as a broadcast channel, but chances are your fans think of it as a real-time channel for contacting you. Whether you are a higher education news service or a restaurant promoting your daily specials, if you’re not monitoring feedback on your Twitter channel, you may be facilitating a negative online event or miss an opportunity to thank a new brand advocate. Here are five tips to help:

1. Set up alerts to monitor your brand name as well as your mentions.  People will talk about you or try to reach you without using your Twitter @username. Make sure you have a series of alerts set up on your social media management system (SMMS) or Google Alerts to let you know when people use your name online. Connect those alerts to a real-time notification on your phone and tablet and make sure you set the alert to “as-it-happens”.

2. If you’re not going to monitor 24-7, you may want to post online “office hours”.  Let people know when you’ll be online with an expectation of when people can receive a reply to their inquiry. A good place to do this is in the bio section where it will appear on your Twitter home page, or put a link to your FAQ website page.

3. Have a well-detailed FAQ page on your website linked to your Twitter bio. The FAQ page should  answer commonly asked questions, list  office operations hours, email contacts, and phone numbers.

4. Have a set of best practices or protocols on how to do customer service. Take the time to train people who use Twitter on behalf of your organization to learn how to deal with people’s problems.

5. Develop a triage response chart and issues escalation procedure. Who should respond to fan complaints? How do you tell if an issue is escalating? Make sure you spell out who should deal with what and decide ahead what you will and won’t respond to.

It doesn’t matter if you are a retail business or a college athletics department. If you have a Twitter account, you have given people an expectation that you are present online 24/7. If you haven’t implemented these five tips in your Twitter strategy, today would be a good day to get started. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. Comments welcomed, as always. 

image: twitter/shutterstock