3 Simple Ways You Can Listen To What Your Customers Are Tweeting

With 2,000 tweets per second and 18,000 search queries per second, it looks like Twitter is being used more as a listening tool than a broadcasting tool. And if you’re not using Twitter to listen, you’re missing out on some valuable, low-cost, real-time data about your customers. Here are three simple ways you can start amping up your Twitter listening activities to really get a good sense of what your customers are tweeting.

Set up a search column (or two, or three) in your Twitter dashboard

If you don’t have an @mention and keyword-based search result columns in your Twitter dashboard yet, start here (similarly, if you don’t have a Twitter dashboard whatsoever, start here).

As part of your social media strategy, you should develop a list of keywords that pertain to your niche, your product(s), and your customers. Then, you’ll want to plug these keywords into a dashboard like HootSuite, so you can keep tabs on when people use them on Twitter.

I’ve written a detailed description of how to create a stream on HootSuite that will show you all or some of the keywords you’ve created, and you can easily apply this to TweetDeck or Seesmic.

Keyword monitoring is one of the most important ways you can listen to what your customers are tweeting. If you’ve set up your column correctly, you’ll be shown a real-time stream of tweets that contain the keywords you’ve specified. You can then use this information to change your social media strategy, tap into new markets, answer customer questions, and even generate sales and possible leads.

Ask questions, create polls, ask for feedback

Listening to your customers on Twitter doesn’t have to be a passive activity. Sure, you can get some great insights through simply searching for keywords that you think your customers will use, but that should only make up a portion of your listening toolbox.

Twitter is a revolutionary marketing tool, as it allows you to tap into your customer base in real-time. You can not only listen in on what they’re tweeting, but you can go one step further and ask for their input to really understand their thoughts and opinions.

Don’t be afraid to send out questions and polls on Twitter, asking your customers which one of your products they prefer, what would make them switch brands, or what their favorite products are. Be sure to add a hashtag to the question so you can easily keep track of the answers, and don’t forget the number-one rule of asking questions on Twitter: stick around long enough to retweet great answers, thank participants and post poll results.

Use InboxQ to discover the questions your customers are asking on Twitter

InboxQ is a powerful tool that searches out only questions that contain specified keywords on Twitter, and serves them up to you in real-time. Using InboxQ, you can easily listen to what your customers are asking, and offer up answers.

Using keywords related to your business, you simply plug these into InboxQ and watch as questions on Twitter are served up, categorized by topic, date and other parameters. You can answer each question directly within InboxQ, which makes this one of the more powerful, but still under-used, Twitter listening tools out there.

Questions are one of the best types of tweets to listen to, because they not only give you insight into what your customers want to know, but they allow you to answer immediately, building a relationship with individuals and building a brand that’s known for its social media engagement. I highly recommend checking out InboxQ if you’re interested in listening, and responding, to what your customers are saying on Twitter.