Retailer Best Buy has received tons of good word of mouth and press from the customer service initiative it launched this summer on Twitter, and the company is hoping to capitalize on it now. Best Buy is ramping up its advertising spend going into the holiday season with a campaign that centers on the company's Twelpforce twitter account.

Twitter is proving to be an excellent customer service tool, and BestBuy has been at the forefront of corporations incorporating it into larger sales initiatives. A year ago, the company was cutting back its advertising, but the economy driven cheaper ad rates allowed the company to save some money and they are ramping up ad spend going into the important holiday season.

The television and digital ads are focusing on the "Twelpforce," the company's large crew of customer service agents that respond to questions via Twitter. The ads show a mass of people in blue shirts ready to answer any customer questions, with a link to the company's Twitter account. 

According to AdAge:

"[Barry Judge, Best Buy's CMO] said the retailer would focus on the Twelpforce because it reinforces the retailer's service focus and garners interest from media outlets. Since launching the Twitter group in July, it has answered 20,000 questions. 'We've found it to be an incredibly powerful idea,' Mr. Judge said. 'We don't send any promotion out through Twelpforce. It's all about reinforcing our helpfulness.'"

Best Buy is repositioning itself to help customers find answers about products. The company’s Facebook page has been redesigned to let users ask friends for product advice. The Twelpforce will also be recording Christmas carols that will be shared via short urls across social media.

According to The New York Times:

"Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the company’s ad agency, has turned this Twitter-based help desk into a metaphor for Best Buy’s main sales claim — that its staff is more knowledgeable about electronics than that of other chains."

But there's also the chance that Best Buy might overdo it with its wall of product information.

The company is starting a social gift-card service called “Pitch In" that sends emails to friends and family asking for contributions to a gift fund. With all of the similar services online focused on charitable giving, consumers might not be excited to see their friends looking for personal gift contributions online.

Best Buy is also trying out two other techniques that might be poorly received. One is retargeting. People who go to the company's website in search of a product but abandon their cart may be hit with tons of ads for that product when they go to other websites.

The other is what The New York Times dubs "net-nagging":

"For the holiday shopping season, the electronics retailer is launching what it calls 'Hint Helper' on its Web site. If you want Dad to buy you that new iPod, sign up and he’ll get an e-mail from Best Buy. If he agrees, a cookie will be placed on his computer, and as he surfs the Web, he will see ads saying something like 'Billy wants an iPod.'"

So far, Best Buy has received a lot of great publicity from its Twelpforce initiative. And as long as the customer service remains helpful, and not nagging, it could do a lot to help sales. The problem with some of the other initiatives is that beyond simply tapping into the selfish interests of users, may are unabashed attempts by Best Buy to increase sales. An impressive knowledge base on products might have the side effect of increasing sales, but begging friends for gifts seems a bit more desperate.

Meghan Keane

Published 2 October, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Dean Saunders

Best Buy seem to be making the right moves when it comes to engaging with their on line community. The core customer base of Best Buy will be tech savvy and will probably use the internet and social media to communicate with their favourite brands.

about 5 years ago

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