Using Twitter for customer testimonials

When reading customer testimonials on websites I sometimes wonder how genuine the words are. There is often no way of knowing whether the quote even came from a real person, whether it was unsolicited or how old it is. As a business owner you have to keep these testimonials fresh and remember to request new ones from customers and clients. Despite these problems customer testimonials feature on many sites and can really help to reassure people before they purchase.

When we launched Perch, just over a year ago, we used Twitter extensively to get the word out and to respond to our potential and new customers. Drew and I have been using Twitter socially since not long after it launched so it made sense to promote Perch that way. As people started to buy and use Perch, they began to post nice things to Twitter and so we added them as favorites for the Perch account on Twitter, over time building up a large list of nice comments from our users.

When we launched the recent redesign of the Perch website we used the Twitter favorites as a way of putting testimonials on the site. In the footer of the Perch website is one of our Perch birds tweeting a tweet drawn from that list. These display randomly, so as a visitor moves around the site they will see a variety of different testimonials. Each tweet links through to that status on Twitter – so the testimonial is verified as being from an actual person. On Twitter you can see the date it was posted, so it is possible to tell how old this testimonial is. In addition the visitor is able to click through to the grabaperch account or search and see all of the mentions of Perch – not just the ones we really like!

You can get your favorites from the Twitter API. What you should avoid however is having something running on your site that gets the favorites every time someone visits. Instead, use the API to pull back the favorites and store them locally (in MySQL, another database or a text file) and then display your latest or random favorite from that data store. Twitter is often unresponsive or very slow and that will effect your site if you do this in real time.

Using the favorites list to add content to your site gives you a very simple way to add moderated Twitter content to your site. High profile sites have had problems in the past by displaying content based on a hashtag, as then anyone using that hashtag can get their thoughts displayed on your site. By using favorites you keep control and choose what goes into the list. Although you have chosen which Tweets go into your favorites, the visitor can use Twitter to find out more about you and the person providing the testimonial. This is a very open and transparent way to display testimonials and I believe this makes them far more useful to a potential customer or client.


Liam Dempsey July 12, 2010 Reply

What a great example of adapting existing functionality to maximum benefit! No need to over-egg the complexity or develop new functionality. Your approaches takes what’s already out there and really puts it to a fantastic commercial use.

Kris July 12, 2010 Reply

Great idea to use favourite tweets instead of just blindly harvesting tweets with a certain hashtag. Simple but effective!

Like you say, using tweets really adds authenticity, and so simple to implement too…

Cath Lawson July 18, 2010 Reply

Hi Rachel – What a great idea for collecting testimonials. It is something I’ll definitely remember for the future.

I agree that testimonials for some products often don’t sound real. I often click through to the website of the person who has written it. Sometimes these groups give testimonials for each other – not very ethical, or honest.

Tom May 2, 2012 Reply

I came across this post while trying to find out if there was a way to automatically display all tweets with a specified hashtag using the Perch Twitter app. You’ve made me reconsider the whole idea, so thank you! Providing curated content is going to be a much better fit for what I’m working on.

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