Spodek, EdenToday’s guest post is by Eden Spodek.

Research shows retailers that use Twitter drive online sales, and have a competitive advantage during the holiday season.

But what is the effect of online relationship building by employees of retail brands, and eventual offline sales?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always been a firm believer that online relationship building has a direct correlation to offline behavior and retails sales are no different.

And here’s why…

It’s a typical Saturday morning. I wake up, hop on Twitter and ask “Good morning! What are you up to this weekend?”

Small Act = Big Outcome

“@EdenSpodek werkin (sic) it the whole weekend! hope you’re doing well!” was the first response. It came from someone I’ve never met in real life. He may not even know I’ve shopped at the store he manages in downtown Toronto. But @ngazman, manager of the only West Elm store in Canada, started following me and engaging me on Twitter a few months ago.

I think I surprised him with this:

“@ngazmen Hi! Maybe I can convince @DavidSpodek to pay you a visit if the end table I want is in stock. ;)”

To be honest, the only plan I had for Saturday was to write this blog post. But I ended up buying a table I’d considered buying a couple of months ago, but couldn’t as it hadn’t arrived in the store yet. I forgot all about the table, but when Neil was the first person who popped into my Twitter feed this morning, his warm hello served as a reminder.

Our conversation continued for 21 tweets. He posted a picture of the table to confirm my description and he put it on hold for me. Neil also told me if I arrived while he was on lunch, he’d be in the back and to make sure I said hello.

Affect Me + Affect My Community

Another friend of ours was watching. She doesn’t have a West Elm in her city. She joined in the discussion and asked me to post pics. So, before I looked for Neil, I took a bunch of photos and posted them to Instragram tagging each one “#westelm.” And more discussion ensued.

Neil was just as warm and friendly in person. He had everything waiting for me and made sure to give me a big hug goodbye. Our conversation resumed on Twitter and he asked me to post pics of the table once it was assembled and in my den. Yes, I’ll be back.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s another example of great online relationship building.

DAVIDsTEA, a Canadian retail tea chain making headway in the U.S. was tweeting about its flavor of the day, Ceylon Star. DAVIDsTEA always samples their flavor of the day. So, when I got home from West Elm, I decided to take a walk and stop by my neighborhood location. Today DAVIDsTEA followed up to see if I’d made it into the store yesterday. Sure did. I ended up stocking up with $35 worth of tea and buying a take out cup of Ceylon Star!

Twitter Love and Purchasing Power

Much has been studied about the affect of Twitter and online purchasing decisions.

According to The Social Skinny, “Social media users who receive excellent customer service from brands spend on average 21 percent more than non-social customers” and 55 percent of consumers share their purchases on social networks including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Now you can even make impulsive purchases with a hashtag and a tweet. And, millennials expect brands to respond to them when they use Twitter as their customer service channel.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t limit my shopping to stores that have a Twitter presence, nor am I 100 percent convinced all retailers need to be there to handle inquiries and complaints – at least not yet.

But I know I’m not alone when I say I’m more likely to frequent a business that invests time building a relationship with me online. It’s often indicative of their overall customer service practices.

What’s your take? Do you believe retailers with an active Twitter presence help drive sales and have a distinct advantage over their competitors who don’t? Do they drive you to their bricks and mortar stores too?

Eden Spodek is a digital communications strategist with a unique perspective on emerging media and more than 20 years’ experience in communications. She’s happiest helping colleagues, clients and students be a little disruptive. She’s outspoken about the importance of building online engagement and targeted relationships, one influencer at a time. Eden is based in Toronto and can be found on many places online including TwitterFacebookPinterestInstagram, and her blog.