What If Twitter Got a Lot More Useful?

By Making Noise About O2's #TweetServe Service, Twitter Tries to Draw Attention to Itself as a Customer-Service Platform

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The U.K. division of Twitter is trying to draw attention to the platform's potential as a customer-service provider with a blog post this morning announcing just such an effort from the telecom giant O2.

For Twitter, making noise about O2's #TweetServe is a way to signal that it is serious about broadening its mass appeal. Twitter needs to demonstrate that it has utility beyond serving as, well, a news feed, a source of celebrity musings and a place to talk about TV. That whole social TV phenomenon, for one thing, isn't necessarily as white-hot as it used to be, as my colleague Cotton Delo recently reported.

And as I wrote in November during the lead-up to the company's IPO, "Twitter needs some new schtick, quick" -- meaning that it had to find ways to seduce new users who simply don't get why they should be using it. I suggested then that Twitter needs to work harder to become something more than just a pit stop on the way to other media destinations. Showing off #TweetServe, which is designed to make life slightly easier for telecom customers seeking account information, is a step in the right direction.

#TweetServe, which has actually been up and running since December, lets O2 customers use nine different hashtag commands to get account information, special offers and phone updates by direct message, according to Twitter and O2. It runs on a platform called Twitter Self-Care, developed by IMImobile. The idea is to not only increase customer loyalty, but reduce inbound volume to call centers. The benefit for Twitter, however, could be a life beyond talking about TV.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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