It seems like only a short while ago that I wasn’t sure if Twitter was relevant to my business, or if it would wasting my time. Now I have almost 500,000 followers on Twitter as @StartupPro, and the business is fun as well as profitable. I’m now convinced that every entrepreneur should use it to boost their business leads, and build their brand as well.
First, I’ll try to answer a common question I still get from entrepreneurs “What is Twitter, really?” For business people, it’s a way to put out “sound bites” or “pull marketing” on the Internet, as effective as you see them in the mainstream media on TV, but without the cost, to your potential customers.
Actually they are “text bites,” comparable to cell phone text messages in length, and broadcast to all your followers, or directed at specific recipients. People can respond in a similar fashion with direct requests or broadcast comments. The important responses are your source of hot “business leads.”
Many people are doing innovate promotions and support with Twitter. I won’t try to outline those here, but I’ll offer some pragmatic steps to get you started on the right track:
- Create separate accounts for business vs personal. If you already use Twitter for personal notes to your friends, use another account for business activity. Your business account should be similar to your website and have a name, picture, and tone that reflects your business brand and logo.
- Tweet something of value in each message. Make every relationship a win-win. That means giving as much as you expect to get – free advice, special promotions, pointers to useful information, and sometimes just friendly conversation. Show that you are a reachable real person, sincere and trustworthy.
- Search other people’s tweets for business leads. With the native Twitter Search and a host of free tools on the Internet, you can mine the universe of all tweets for people potentially interested in your product or service. Set up search argument filters to find them, and follow-up diligently but politely on every lead.
- Use the many free tools to improve productivity. Twitter’s native user interface is limited and not very friendly. Use tools like TweetDeck to set up your control panel and SocialOomph to spread out your responses across the day. There are hundreds of other tools to be found via the Internet.
- Become an authority in your business domain. One of the challenges we all face before buying things on the Internet is to separate the quality sources from the scammers. Use Twitter to highlight your business, knowledge, integrity, and leadership. Remember that, more than ever, people still buy from people.
- Stay top-of-mind with other experts on Twitter. Seek out your peers, offer interesting links, respond to tweets, and post thoughts of value at least a few times a day. Twitter is a stream, not like email, where people only look at what’s happening now. Your challenge is to stand out in the stream.
- Proactively follow potential clients. Don’t wait for your potential clients and customers to find you. They need to see you following them, check out your profile. If you have something they are interested in, they will follow you back. This is the essence of “pull” marketing.
- Increase size and quality of following daily. Never stop working to add new followers by following others and improving your offering. A larger following means greater currency and more credibility, which iteratively attracts more followers. Don’t be hesitant to un-follow people who don’t fit.
- Re-tweet important entries for double impact. Adding ‘RT @username’ in front of the original tweet and resending it forwards it to your followers. This is a double win but should be used selectively. It increases your perceived value to your followers, as well as increasing the audience and credibility of the original sender.
- Cross link all your web profiles to include Twitter. Make sure people can find you and your content from all directions on the Internet. Your website should be the base, with a link to your blog, your Twitter profile, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, and vice versa. This cross-linking always improves your Google search ranking.
These days, Twitter is actually a constant stream of absolutely current public communication. The good news is you can visit it as often as you wish, and analyze the data for useful information. Most big companies like Dell and HP now use it to find customers and claim million-dollar returns. Thus it’s a valuable resource for every startup. Tweet me if you have a question.