There are plenty of guides online about how to use social media for business, and one of the most common points mentioned is social media monitoring:

“What are your customers or potential customers saying about you and your competitors?”

I’d like to share a real-life example of how we used social media monitoring to gain a new customer from one of our competitors, all from a simple tweet. The company I work for, Ideasbynet, sells promotional items business to business, and we develop most of our customer relationships via the phone or internet. We recognise social media is an area of potential growth, but as with many B2B companies it can be difficult to generate revenue through the medium.

The Tweet

Back in June last year, I was doing some social media monitoring of a few of our competitors. Amongst all the ‘RT to win an iPad’ competitions there was a golden nugget of a tweet – a dissatisfied customer. I immediately notified Byron, our sales manager, asking him to make contact:

Email from Patrick showing social media monitoring in action

It is an unfortunate trend in our industry that some distributors do provide poor service, so we quite often receive phone calls from people who have been let down and need us to fix it. Naturally, we jumped into action and introduced ourselves, by giving them a call and offering to help.

The Relationship

The customer in question is one Trade Direct Insurance, a company that provides insurance policies to the Tradesman and Construction industries. Like us, they put a heavy focus on service, and as they regularly attend trade shows they are an ideal client for us. They are big Twitter users, and as per their bio, the man behind the tweets is a guy called Wayne.

 TradeDirectLtd Twitter bio

Fortunately, Wayne seems to ‘get’ social media, and uses it very effectively to communicate with customers and share relevant news. He is also a very nice chap and was happy to help me with this case study – a kind and unexpected bonus.

Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for Wayne, our competitor got their act together and finally delivered his order. No matter, we figured, as we are in the relationship business, and we were pretty sure we’d developed a sufficiently sound business relationship to help at some other point down the line. As good social media patrons, we sent him a quick tweet:

 IdeasByNet start the conversation

The Business
The Trade Direct Insurance account is handled by one of our senior account managers, Susan Morgan, and she spent several weeks speaking to Wayne (or trying to – he’s a busy man!). Eventually we got the opportunity to quote on items for their next trade show – some branded 2013 diaries – and after fixing various stock/supply issues, we got the confirmed order.

Wayne tweets his IdeasByNet diaries

Of course, this is not the end of the road for the relationship, as we hope that the diaries go down so well this year that they want to buy them again next year, and help out with any other potential business in between. As always, we will be judged on our product and service, so it is up to us to make sure that the relationship remains healthy and we maintain our own standards.

The Result

So far the signs have been very encouraging, as all the feedback we’ve had about the products is that they have been very well received. As ever, Wayne is using Twitter to great effect, and getting plenty of feedback on the diaries on there:

great feedback on IdeasByNet diaries

With social media there is nowhere to hide. If you’re in the service game, then you need to make sure you walk the walk, and let your social media accounts do the tweeting talking.

A little bit about Patrick:

Patrick HathawayA well rounded networker and good guy to know, Patrick is the (almost) egoless Online Marketing Manager for IdeasByNet – a promotional gifts company based in Sheffield. When not helping produce awesome videos like this he is keeping bar at the Saloon of Literature. If you like a drink and your online marketing posts to be laced with a little bit of wit you could do a lot worse than reading his time travelling seo’s post. If you want to read something a little more serious he has penned this awesome post about Google penalties and Batman.

If you want to connect with Patrick – and I suggest you do – he can found lurking on twitter and occasionally joining in the conversations on the SEO’s own personal social network Google+.