I met my neighbor on Twitter.
Jeremy Watkin wasn't my next door neighbor, but he lived about a mile away from my home. We connected because he is a customer service expert who regularly shares interesting customer service content (follow him on Twitter!)
This isn't uncommon.
ICMI just released it's list of Top 50 Thought Leaders to Follow on Twitter. Including Jeremy and Jenny, I personally know 23 of the 50 from meeting them on Twitter.
That's not bragging but rather a testament to the power of Twitter as a networking and learning tool. Here's how you can use Twitter to grow your customer service network and knowledge too.
Be Helpful, Not Spammy
A so-called customer service expert once begged me to follow him on Twitter. Literally begged me. He sent me daily tweets that read, "Please, please follow me!"
The reason? He had a new book coming out and wanted help promoting it. Ugh. Those tweets were exactly why I didn't follow him.
Don't be spammy.
Don't tweet to people and ask them to read your blog or sign up for your newsletter. They'll discover your amazing content on their own if it's relevant to them.
Instead, try to be helpful.
Notice what people are tweeting about customer service and share the content you like. Tweet back with your own take or helpful links. Ask questions. Show appreciation.
In other words, use Twitter to engage in honest conversations. You just might learn that someone interesting is your neighbor.
Find Experts to Follow
Follow some customer service experts you admire.
These people often scour the internet for new ideas and helpful tips so you don't have to. They also share their own interesting and relevant ideas.
Not sure who to follow?
There are plenty of top tweeter lists like the one ICMI just put out. Look up the Twitter handles for people whose books or blogs you read, keynotes you listen to, or even journalists who write about customer service.
You can also see who the people you follow follow. For example, I typically only follow people who regularly share relevant and interesting customer service content.
You can click on that "following" number and discover new people.
Hashtags are away of organizing content around a specific theme, so following customer service-related hashtags is a great way to discover new content and ideas.
My favorite hashtag for customer service is #custserv.
There are other good ones too, and you may discover additional hashtags that are relevant to you or your industry.
Here are a few other favorites:
Tip from the pros — some companies try to ruin these great hashtags by spamming them constantly with job postings and other marketing. You can block or mute these Twitter handles so you don't see them in your feed.
Join Tweet Chats
Tweet chats are great opportunities to learn and network.
These are regularly scheduled events where a moderator will tweet questions around a particular topic. Anyone following the chat's hashtag can view the questions.
Here's an example from #icmichat (Tuesdays, 10am Pacific):
People then respond to the question by starting their tweet with A (for answer) and the question number while including the hashtag so everyone else can see it.
Want to find more chats? You can often spot people you follow engaging in chats. Another good option is to tweet to a few experts to ask for their recommendations.
Many customer service conferences have an active backchannel, which is really just another way of saying they have their own hashtag.
There are two ways to use conference hashtags.
If you're attending the conference, you can network with other participants by engaging in conversations about a particular keynote or breakout session. This is particularly helpful in big sessions that wouldn't otherwise be interactive.
If you can't attend a conference, following the conference hashtag allows you to capture some of the big themes and top insights without having to be there.