Posted May 6, 2010 5:55 pm by with 0 comments

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What are you doing with Twitter? What do you think you could be doing five months from now? In five months, says ClickZ, office-supply retailer Staples “has turned its Twitter account into a marketing insights and sales engine. Perhaps more importantly, the office supplies retailer has quickly learned the social site’s benefits for customer relations.” While they’re not yet at the level of Dell or Zappos, Staples has shown a good example of a startup Twitter account and its power.

One big success for the retailer came last November—when they failed. A Black Friday coupon code for the retailer malfunctioned, resulting in a lot of unhappy Tweets. Staples was able to use Twitter to help disgruntled customers. Staples is also using the microblogging service to keep a finger on the pulse of customer sentiment.

But perhaps smartest of all, Staples realized that Twitter wasn’t just another version of the helpdesk on their site, or the customer service number. Reports ClickZ

[Heather Deschenes, director of digital marketing for the brand,] had to train those new members to her team in not only the technical aspects of using Twitter, but also how to keep the brand’s “tweet voice” intact. And the incoming reps wouldn’t have the copy-and-paste response sentences that they may have become accustomed to employing during instant chat sessions.

As part of their Twitter effort, Staples has created a “Tweet Team” of reps, who maintain their individual personalities while adhering to the “tweet voice” of the overall brand. And they’ve done that in a matter of months.

I think the lesson here for marketers is that you can jump into social and make efforts quickly—and you should start now. A study released last month by Edison Research shows that just over half of all Twitter users follow at least one brand.

And the lesson for consumers is: complain 😉 .

What do you think?