From dealing with pesky trolls to legitimate complaints and everything in between, socially savvy brands have leaned on Twitter as a customer service tool for years. In no mood to lose its lead in the area, the platform is extending features it began testing out last summer to a broader range of brands.
Brands including Starbucks, Citibank, Hotels.com and Hyatt are curating custom profiles on Twitter, which break down their streams into three distinct sections rather than a scroll of tweets in chronological order. The first section features its most recent posts, the second section contains a gallery of images the brand chooses and the third section has “featured” tweets that brands can use to highlight their best or most relevant posts. Below these sections, all of the brand’s tweets appear in the normal chronological timeline.
Featured tweets are a good way for brands to surface relevant information up top or show users a few pretty pictures, but also makes Twitter more useful for users, said Huge’s assistant director of social media Kevin Del Rosario.
“Users aren’t going directly to brand Twitter pages unless they’re looking for something specific like customer service FAQs, campaigns, or branded content,” he said. “The ‘featured’ tab makes it easier for a brand to highlight these topics for followers versus the one pinned tweet or chronological tweets — now brands can say ‘Visit us on Twitter’ and actually be confident they’re sending the messages they want to send and that followers are getting the information they desire.”
Citibank’s featured tweets section, for example, highlights a tweet from last September that directs customers to its customer service handle @AskCiti if they need a hand. Hyatt’s, on the other hand, has a featured tweet from December 2016 offering a guest an upgrade. Meanwhile, Starbucks’ account highlights Christmas pictures, tweets and videos.
— Citibank (@Citibank) September 15, 2016
The featured tab has come along with a suite other tools that Twitter has introduced to improve its customer-support functionalities for marketers in recent months, like direct messaging and the “Provides Support” button. In November, it also launched “Welcome Messages” — its own take on chatbots — for brands such as Pizza Hut and Birchbox. Tapping Twitter for customer service is an effective brand strategy, with users being willing to spend up to 20 percent more on products from businesses that engage with them through the platform, according to a joint study by Twitter and Applied Marketing Science.
Hyatt has played around with several of these features, given that Twitter is the platform where it has the largest number of social conversations with its guests. The brand has been using the featured section to not only highlight important information, but also uses it to encourage its social team.
“The featured tweets feature specifically shows consumers that real humans are listening and providing personal help to our guests — and it allows us to continually motivate and recognize our social care team for the care they demonstrate in their daily interactions,” a Hyatt spokesperson said. “For example, we regularly celebrate the best ‘Tweets of the week’ from our social care agents by pinning them to featured tweets section.”
According to a Twitter spokesperson, the featured tweets product is still in testing, and is yet to roll out broadly. “We’re constantly testing the best ways to provide customer service on Twitter, and that includes surfacing the best content from brands,” said the rep.
But even so, brands must closely monitor the feature, as it could have significant changes on their customer service strategies on the platform, said Jeremy Leon, vp of strategy at Laundry Service.
“While current user behavior means traffic to profiles is minimal, this may change as more brands adopt this approach,” he said. “It could significantly reduce the resources required for manual customer service on the platform.”