Twitter has once again hit the headlines this week with the news that even the Government is getting in on the act of updating internet audiences with messages of 140 characters or less.

But it is retailers that are leading the way in proactively engaging consumers in conversation using sites such as Twitter.
The Central Office of Information, which styles itself as the “Government’s centre of excellence for marketing and communications” has set itself up on the micro-blogging site to provide news and views. However, so far its activity on the site has been a masterclass in how not to use the site to engage with your audience.

With one update visible on its Twitter feed, and not a very interesting one at that, it is hardly setting the websphere alight. Luckily, a few retailers are well ahead of the game in terms of using the site to improve consumers’ perceptions of their brands.

The explosion in email marketing has meant retailers have got used to just broadcasting their messages out to the masses, with little personalisation and almost zero actual interaction with their customers.

Companies including Asos, Carphone Warehouse and Mydeco are actively using the site to have two-way conversations with their customers. Twitter gives retailers the chance to go back to basics and actually talk to customers.

While the site is probably overhyped - and the rumours of a purchase by Google mean that this is likely to continue - it’s got to be worth a few minutes of any dedicated retailer’s time to have a look on Twitter and see how much love or displeasure your customers can express for your brand in a few short words.

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