Twitter client MetroTwit is using social tools to improve its “Help” function. More specifically, in 2010 the firm launched a standalone Facebook group to serve as a friendly virtual place where MetroTwit users can post problems, share tips and be part of the larger MetroTwit user community.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a Twitter client, these are pieces of software specifically designed to make using Twitter easier and more intuitive. MetroTwit’s own claim to fame is a particularly striking and elegant interface, which has been getting some positive buzz among technology review sites.
Product manager Long Zheng (@longzheng) told us that its Facebook help group started out as a low-cost forum for the firm’s software beta testers. “From the very beginning we saw the power of users helping other users,” says Zheng. “It was a natural transition to bringing this functionality to the rest of our user community. Whether discussing a problem or making a feature suggestion, it was usually other users who were first to respond before anyone from the official team did.”
Unlike other Web-based user tech-help sites, on Facebook everyone gets to see a bit more about everyone else, even if it just a picture, making the experience feel more personal. Zheng said, “Having an identifiable face and name attached with each user made it feel more friendly and approachable than a traditional support forum.”
Apart from its simple (and free) set-up, MetroTwit uses the Help function to identify user problems and user reactions to product features. If need be, a company rep can “jump in” to the group and provide help directly. MetroTwit also uses the Facebook group as a listening post to identify unmet needs for future releases, or to find out what kind of people are using the product to better target its marketing.
There are some drawbacks and cautions.