Twitter has many uses for our business beyond sending us traffic and spreading word about our articles, research and events.

While it is now our fourth-largest referrer, Twitter is more than simply a people hose. By tuning in to tweets we listen to user feedback, which helps keep us on our toes. It is useful in a wide number of areas, some of which I have listed below.

Some recommendations and questions are easier to deal with than others, but we certainly take note of all of them.

Tweets have alerted us to problem areas on the website, leading to numerous bug fixes, and helping us maintain quality control in our work. They can be useful for business and product development, as well as for PR and marketing reasons. 

Everybody at Econsultancy loves to be retweeted, but beyond this kind of word of mouth action there are 13 other types of tweet that really help us to help our users. Many of them will be relevant to your business. And since Twitter is a direct, public feedback channel, it makes no sense to bury your head in the sand. Here’s what we look out for…

1. The customer service tweet

We’ve always tried to be very diligent about customer service, but occasionally too many people are out for lunch at the same time (and subsequently the voicemail isn’t checked for a few hours). Perfectly valid emails can vanish into spam folders. Post-it notes are misplaced.

So when emails and telephones fail you, there’s always the option of hurling something at us in Twitter…

@PBizzle: @Econsultancy – rang a few hours ago to find out why i’m locked out of your site, someone gonna call me back at some point?

His next tweet was much better…

@PBizzle: @econsultancy – that was quick, thanks for calling! 🙂

2. The product development tweet

The Beastie Boys once asked ‘So What’cha Want?’ and you can now tell them via Twitter. You certainly tell us, and we’re listening. Many good ideas aren’t adopted immediately but we nevertheless discuss them as we look to improve and develop what we’re doing… 

@Rehan: @Econsultancy Could you make it easier to view larger versions of the charts at (expand) (e.g. (expand))? Thanks

@daxhamman: @econsultancy Client is looking for an RFP template to select a 3rd party ad-server – can you help?

3. The usability tweet

Since we relaunched our website in December we’ve had more than our fair share of tweets pointing out issues and bugs. An engaged group of Twitter followers makes for a very handy always-on user testing lab…

@rob_knight: @Econsultancy any idea why I’m getting a ‘change rejected’ error when i try to comment on that blog post?

@steveblamey: @Econsultancy On the logo trick, I liked that too, but its a pain when reading posts on my mobile. Takes up half the screen.

4. The business development tweet

The entry-level price for an Econsultancy subscription has always been maintained at a very low price point, but at £195 it’s not low enough for everybody. This tweet suggests that there is an opportunity for us to generate more revenue by rolling out a new subscription line:

@divamarketing: @Econsultancy Have you ever considered offering a student rate for membership? Would love to join but fee out of my price range.

5. The referral tweet

Retweets rock, but there are more direct forms of referral too. Everybody loves a discount, and we definitely love to see recommendations like these two…

@baggsy: RT: @econsultancy £100 discount for Twitter followers onEconsultancy’s Mobile Marketing training course:

@trainingpress: Grants for Econsultancy’s digital marketing courses now available to business 

6. The media opportunity tweet

It’s fantastic to be asked by the media to contribute an opinion for an article. Twitter is another way of contacting people for comment, as the tweet-savvy chaps at Marketing did earlier in the week:

@marketinguk: @Econsultancy We met with blogger who said PRs would die out as they couldn’t make brand messages work in blogosphere. Your view?

7. The fix your shit up tweet

Quality control is important around these parts but standards can slip late in the afternoon after a full-on day, especially when good coffee is in short supply. Perhaps Twitter is one more reason why sub editors should be worrying about their futures…

@henweb: @Econsultancy Disappointing use of spell check there… teh? ration? Tut tut! : )

8. The are you quite sure about that tweet

It is good practice for journalists to avoid pinning their flags onto masts, especially when those masts are built out of data, and even more so when sample sizes and datasets are not known. Use of the phrase ‘according to’ helps us distance ourselves from third party facts and figures, which may or may not be entirely accurate. Leaving out that sort of caveat can cause discussion and issues, or give the impression that we fully endorse the research. Here’s an example, following an article we wrote earlier that we failed to sufficiently distance ourselves from:

@pgolding: @Econsultancy this story keeps circulating but stats can’t be correct – e.g. opera not even on the list and how can android be 6% already?

9. The crowdsourced content tweet

We published an article that listed a bunch of charities on Twitter. As with many lists, you tend to miss a few obvious candidates (as well as some less obvious ones), and Twitter is a great way for people to get on the radar. 

@JoBrodie: @Econsultancy @AsthmaUK is another UK #charity on Twitter, please would you add to your list? (expand) Thank you 🙂

We’ve just done the same thing with UK retailers on Twitter, which you can currently see in action.

10. The event feedback tweet

We run a lot of events and are seeing an increasing number of before and after tweets, allowing us to monitor both anticipation and feedback. 

Many people say good things…

@jk_totalmanager: eConsultancy Digital Cream today – very well attended event, lots of interesting people and useful ideas to share and learn – worthwhile day

Then again you can’t please everybody all the time! 

@tomnixon: “Looking forward to the 13:00 – 14:00 session at this conference (AKA lunch)”

11. The you suck tweet

Sometimes amusing, other times more serious, and always worth reading. More often than not they are helpful. 

@steve_e: Oh Econsultancy. Rubbish site down message, make it friendly!! ‘The system is down for maintenance as of 15:29 GMT. It’ll be back shortly.’

12. The ego massage tweet

Other tweets are simply there to rub our backs when we need it most. They can provide a tonic for those flat, grey Thursdays, when our heads are buried in research and the nightmarish task of formatting long Word documents. We share them around the office like chocolate.

13. The I want to steal your content tweet

Ah yes, blessed non-subscribers that email our reports around tend not to go public with it. Others, however, are a bit more brazen about asking for this sort of thing…

@Clare: RT Does anyone have a copy of the e-consultancy Internet Statistics Compendium please 🙂 ? I won’t tell anyone who ‘leant’ it to me !