Anytime I write or talk about twitter, inevitably I get asked how I’m making out with it. It’s apparent that a lot of people are willing to try the service, but not clear on the best way to use it. Often I talk to frustrated people who have given up using twitter after spending a significant amount of time on it and not getting the results that they were hoping for. Most of these people are using twitter backwards.
Without any direction otherwise, most people will try to apply a traditional marketing model to it. If you think that you can post all your activity to your twitter stream and then people will “discover” you, strike up a conversation and you’ll be able to build a relationship that leads to a sale, YOU ARE WRONG. The hard truth is that you might not be that interesting. Haven’t we all questioned if anyone really cares what we’re having for lunch or all of the details of our day? That’s not to say that you should give up using twitter, or that you have nothing to contribute to the conversation. It does mean that you’re going to have to change the way you approach this platform in order to get the results that you’re looking for.
The key to using twitter isn’t talking about yourself or what you’re doing. The key is LISTENING. Tools like Tweetdeck are great for this. You can actually dedicate columns of the Tweetdeck program to specific keywords that a consumer might use when talking about your area of expertise. These columns will actually deliver tweets containing the information that you target from any twitter user, not just those that you follow. This exponentially increases your opportunity to make a sale.
If you want to target people in your specific geographic area, there’s some great twitter apps to use on your iPhone. Tweetie, Twitterriffic, and Twittelator (look for an upcoming posts to compare the three) all offer features to allow you to discover other twitter users who are in your area using GPS designation. If you combine this tool with the recently released lists feature built into twitter, you can have a nice list of local twitter users for you to use to build relationships in your own back yard.
Tools? Check! Now What?
How you choose to listen and interact is going to depend on the tools that you use. For example, I use the Tweetdeck as described above to listen for when people tweet the words “need more business”. I check my Tweetdeck, either on the computer or my iPhone (yes, there’s an app for that) a couple of times per day. Not everyone who uses those words is a potential client for me. Most of the tweets are people lamenting that they “need more business cards”. But once in a while there’s a jewel in there for me to strike up a conversation about. When you find the right tweet, be sure you don’t rush in with your sales pitch. Strike up a conversation. Contribute some value. Find unique and interesting ways to GIVE, and you will surely GET new business.
When I use the above mentioned twitter clients on my cell phone to find twitter users in my geographic area, my approach is a little bit different. I usually send them an @ message saying that I’m close and I want to follow and connect with more people who are actually near me. Often with this approach I’m focused more on relating the the content that they’re posting than even thinking about a selling them anything initially. What I’m doing is working to make a new friend. Not everyone who’s on twitter in my area is friend material, so I’m selective about who I connect with. Once a friendship is established, business referrals will eventually follow. We all want to help our friends, right?
Does this mean I don’t have to update my account, or I can use automation to update my account?
Absolutely Not! Remember people you want to connect with will look at your twitter page to see what you’re about. If they see that your posts are all automated from twitterfeed or some other aggregator, you’re sending them the message that your too lazy busy to interact.
But if you follow the two strategies that I outlined above, visitors to your page will see that you are a real person, someone who engages with others and cares about who he engages with. Isn’t that the kind of person you would want to connect with on twitter? And you can post as much of the details of your life to your account as well…as long as you continue to interact with other people in between.
If you follow these ideas, there’s no reason for you to be on twitter more than 30 minutes a day. 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon to “listen” and interact should be plenty to start making an impact on your business. Go the extra mile and arrange to meet your twitter friends offline. Once you do that you have an actual relationship, instead of an online connection.
This is my twitter plan. What do you think of it? Would you do it differently? If so, how and why? I’m looking forward to your comments!
Help spread the word!