November 16th, 2008 | 4 MIN READ

Tapping Twitter to Understand Customers and Develop Personas

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

Who cares about Twitter?

The microblogging network has enjoyed impressive 343% Y-O-Y growth and is the fastest growing US social network according to Nielsen Online. Some claim Twitter attracts 2000 new users a day.

Wouldn't you like to know if people are "Tweeting" about you, your company or your products? What are they saying?

A simple way to find out is to use Twitter's own search engine.

After you perform a search, you can subscribe to the search keyword through RSS:

Or you can sign up with TweetBeep and get Google Alerts style updates every time your tracked keyword or URL is mentioned.

Reputation Monitoring and More

Monitoring Twitter mentions of your brand names is akin to listening in on a conversation - you may hear something you like (ego gratification!) or you don't (your customer service or ads stink, your product is low quality). If you have affiliates, you may also see how frequently your deals and promotions are pushed and by who.

If someone is having a problem with your customer service, consider reaching out to them and making good. If you identify an evangelist, you may want to reach out and thank them for their kind words, and offer them a special gift or gift card.

Using Twitter to Develop Personas

You'd be surprised how much you can learn about one person through Twitter. For example, real Twitter user @Torrie became an LL Bean customer after she asked her Twitter friends where she could find a good swimsuit. She had considered Land's End but wanted something less expensive.

One of her followers wanted to direct message her, but since @Torrie wasn't mutually following her, she had to Tweet it publicly:

Apparently @Torrie got many helpful responses, but LL Bean won her business, and she informed her network (and the whole Internet):

Now, if you want to build a persona for an LL Bean customer, why not gather as much information about @Torrie as you can? She's shared a lot about herself in her Tweets and on her blog which is linked from her Twitter profile. I learned that @Torrie is:

    • 32 years old, but "in denial about it" (since when was 32 old, come on!)
    • Married 11 years to a doctor who works long hours, she loves him dearly and misses him a lot during the day while she cares for an almost-two-year-old
    • Ex-pastry chef turned portrait photographer
    • Grew up in Manhattan, now lives in the suburbs
    • "Vegetarian, recycling, yoga-practicing, organic hippie"
    • Voted Obama
    • Self described complainer, not afraid to complain on her blog or through Twitter (her blog is called "I Pretty Much Hate Everything")
    • Among her hates are commercials and "not being able to get a real live person on the phone"
    • She's bummed there is not a Babies R Us in her area
    • She really likes eco-friendly stuff, in fact, she blogs about stuff she doesn't hate on her product reviews blog "Stuff I Don't Hate" (she's an Amazon affiliate)

Blogger since 2003, contributes to Alpha Mom Guide to Everything and is a member of the BlogHer Network

LL Bean, @Torrie is now your customer. There are certain assumptions you can make:

  • @Torrie trusts her social network and her social network trusts her
  • With her busy mom lifestyle and her technical savvy, she's likely to be comfortable researching and shopping online. Convenience is important
  • She knows her budget and sticks to it
  • Customer service is important to her
  • She'd rather buy green products from ethical, socially and environmentally responsible companies
  • She's on Twitter, and may prefer to receive deals and offers through Twitter than email or RSS
  • She's a potential affiliate

Questions I have for LL Bean:

  • Are you listening to customer conversations about your brand? Are you tracking Twitter?
  • Do you have a plan for outreach to both evangelists and unsatisfied customers?
  • Do you provide price filters that help customers with a price range in mind narrow product selection?
  • If a customer were looking for sustainable or "green" products, could he/she find them through navigation or search? What shows up when a user searches for "eco friendly" or "green"?
  • What shows up for a site search on "yoga"?
  • Are you offering alternative communication methods like Twitter or mobile for tech-savvy shoppers?
  • Does your affiliate manager have a strategy for reaching out to people like @Torrie? How easy is your affiliate program information to find on your website?

And don't forget the Twitter user that recommended LL Bean to @Torrie, what's her story?

Now I don't suggest you rely solely on Twitter for your persona development, or stalk every single person that mentions you. Just keep Twitter in mind for your persuasion, reputation management and social media marketing programs.

Did you know you can follow me and Jason Billingsley on Twitter?

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