14 Ways to Build Meaningful Relationships with Customers on Twitter

One of the first things I did when I joined Twitter was follow a couple thousand people, respond to about 100 celebrities and then reply to anyone who mentioned marketing. I was kicked off Twitter in a week.

There are a few guiding principles associated with Twitter and if you break them, they could kick you off just like I was. Thus, I strongly suggest that you read the Twitter Guidelines and spend your time focusing on long-term results instead of short-term gains.

The best place to start, as it relates to Twitter, is building a reputation as being both a credible and trustworthy source. Developing a brand that has these attributes isn’t going to be easy. It’s something that can be done over time if you put in the effort and follow these fourteen steps to building meaningful relationships with your followers:

1. Ask Questions. This or That. True or False.

Social media is like an ongoing 24/7 cocktail party where people would rather spend time engaging and interacting than simply scrolling through a feed of noise. So how do you cut through the noise? One of the simplest and most tried and tested methods is asking your followers questions.

There are a handful of different types of questions you can ask, but you need to ensure they’re aligned with your customer’s interests. Your questions don’t necessarily have to be linked directly to your product or service, but they should stir up a bit of conversation and possibly even a bit of debate depending on the sensitivity of the topic.

Let’s take LeadSift for example. We’re a business that is committed to delivering our clients with potential engagement opportunities on social media. As such, when we tweet, it tends to be focused around social media and how to use social media to drive results. But what if we were to apply this “asking questions” approach to LeadSift – which of these would work?

  1. Tired. Coffee or RedBull?
  2. Tweets. Scheduled or Not Scheduled?
  3. Auto-Direct Messages. For or Against?
  4. Presentations. Powerpoint, Keynote or Prezi?

Did you say 2 & 3? Possibly even 4 if we wanted to stretch it a bit? What if I told you I’d be comfortable sending out all 4 of these tweets? Would you believe me? You should.  While not all of these tweets are specific to the LeadSift product offering, each of them could drive engagement with our current followers.

2. Show Different Sides of Your Personality.

While it’s important to build your personal brand or establish your credibility in your space, it’s also important to let your hair down a bit. As easy as it is to get caught up in the routine discussion of your industry and the great products you offer, you need to also lighten up and showcase the human-side of your business or brand. It’s the only way to truly connect with your customers on a level deeper than the business transaction.

Take for example, this Harlem Shake video created by the folks at Moz:

It’s light-hearted. It’s fun. It’s entertaining. It’s human.

That’s what Twitter is all about. Instead of spending hours on top of hours solely chatting about how great your product or service is, spend some time showing your staff how your product is made or simply having a conversation about things happening in the world around you.

3. Don’t Focus on The Twitter-Celebs

Sure. Getting the attention of someone like @ChrisBrogan or @GaryVee is awesome! These guys have an amazing reach and an awesome following but they’re also sitting with thousands and thousands of people tweeting at them a day. Instead of spending time focusing solely on getting in the Twitterati’s good books – focus on your existing brand advocates and customers.

Beyond that, go find lists of people within your industry niche and focus on them. A quick Google search will help you find the most influential twitterers in real estate or even the most influential twitterers in health. Think about whom your target audience is following and strive to build a relationship with them.

Building a relationship with a user who’s known as an up and comer in the Twitter world is easier than building a relationship with someone who’s already a Twitter Elite. Show these users you care and ultimately promote them and strive to add value to their stream as much as possible. In many ways, you need to spend less time singing your own praises and more time singing that of your followers, customers and potential leads.

4. Build a Trustworthy Reputation

While at first glance you might not think an opinion could be formed from 140 characters or less, you would be surprised how meaningful a tweet can be. Remember, it’s the small things that count. The reply that you send out 30 seconds after a user mentions you or the #FollowFriday shout out you give them – Each of these tiny little interactions combine to formulate a sense of trust.

But don’t be fooled into think that’s where the trust starts and ends. You also build trust by sharing quality content on a regular basis. You see, when you start to build a sense of trust with your followers and have positioned yourself as a leader in a specific niche, something magic happens. It’s one of the biggest twitter compliments you can receive yet one that isn’t only reserved to the Twitter elite. It’s called the blind Retweet.

A blind retweet is when someone who follows you retweets a link that you’ve shared to their followers without even clicking it. Sure, on the surface many people will suggest that it’s not the best etiquette as it relates to Twitter but it’s not something we’re going to change today. It’s the reality of how Twitter works and it’s the reality of how Twitter can work for you if you can establish a sense of trust with your connections.

5. Give Thanks. Give Responses. Give Thanks Again.

Your manners come in handy more than ever in social media. On Facebook, a simple “like” will do the trick but on Twitter it’s a more personal interaction. While there’s definitely a time and a place to simply press “favorite” on a Tweet where someone is giving you a shout out or a bit of love, the best approach is a meaningful response.

When you respond to a user on Twitter, it’s very easy to simply write: “@Username Thanks!” But instead of taking the easy route, sometimes you will want to go above and beyond their expectations and make it a bit more personal. The best way to do this is taking a quick look at their bio to see if a first name is listed, if a first name is there, use that in your response. It’s a little touch that goes a long way!

6. Take Your Convo to the DM

Some of the most meaningful and memorable conversations I’ve had on Twitter have happened behind the curtains. When you’re communicating with someone through DM, it’s no longer about the world watching it’s only about you and them. It’s about a 2-way conversation that no one else needs to see. This is your chance to really take off your “brand-mask” and show the user who you are.

If you’re a brand, you want to communicate as the person behind the keyboard. For example, instead of acting as if you’re XYZ Real Estate company, you will want to act like James Kemp who works for XYZ Real Estate company and is currently managing their Twitter account. If that information isn’t out there in the public, share it with the user one on one and you automatically are able to earn a bit of trust through good old fashioned human interaction. People trust people. Act like a person and it will be appreciated.

7. ReTweet Content They Want Shared

“If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It’s a saying each of us heard when we were in grade school and it’s one that has become an unwritten rule on Twitter. In some industries, the idea of retweeting your potential customers and target audience doesn’t exactly make sense. Yet, there’s always situations that can occur where your brand could help a customer looking to spread the word about something.

For example, if one of your existing customers have tweeted out that they’ve lost their dog and need some help finding him, you retweeting that post will help them. Furthermore, you retweeting that post will give you additional credibility with them because you had their back when they needed you.

When you help your customers they help you by telling everyone they can about how you helped them. Too often do we fall into the trap of believing that the only way that we can help our customers is through our products and services. In reality, we can help them with things that aren’t necessarily within our industries bag of tricks but are a part of human nature.

8. Attend Conferences & Ask Who’s Attending

There’s truly nothing better than going from pixels to flesh. When you can actually put a face to an avatar in real life, your relationships go from being “online friends” to true connections. This can be applied to not just individuals with personal brands but organizations with a series of community managers as well. It doesn’t matter your size, all that matters is that you’re out meeting people in person.

Conferences are a great place to meet people especially when the conference is about a topic within your target audiences interest. Additionally, if you want to take your relationship a bit further, send out a tweet prior to the conference and ask who’s attending. You’re likely to receive a few responses back from your followers and from there, you will want to line up lunches to spend some quality time with them.

9. Start Your Own #TweetUp

This concept tends to sound a bit frightening to some brands and professionals but it shouldn’t. You can set up a #TweetUp with very little effort and drive a significant return. No, I’m not talking about generating financial return and charging people to attend – I’m talking about establishing a stronger reputation in the social media space while also establishing a deeper relationship with your customers.

The power of a #TweetUp or gathering of any sort is an activity that brands have been doing for years. An example of a brand that has an awesome community of brand advocates is the website, Chive. Now, the Chive might not be a site where I spend hours upon hours but it’s a site that has a community that cannot be denied. One thing the site has going for them is the concept of a Chive MeetUp. While there’s a mix of official and unofficial MeetUps, the fact that they encourage their members and fans to meet in person only further strengthens their relationship with their members.

10. Connect on Other Channels for Intel

When you’re working on the behalf of an individual, it’s easier to connect on other channels for Intel. When I say Intel, I’m talking about insights into the personal lives of other people you meet on Twitter. It sounds a bit NSAish but it’s an easy and effective way to build a better bond with your followers and connections on Twitter.

People enjoy attention and/or appreciation. When you can give a user one of those things unexpectedly, you have the ability to build a deeper bond with them. Thus, connecting with a user on Facebook gives you a chance to notice things like their birthday, first child or even their wedding. All of these situations are great times to send a tweet saying congratulations or Happy Birthday.

11. Be Seen Elsewhere. Not Just Twitter.

In the 1960’s Robert Zajonc ran a series of experiments that resulted in one of the most well known Psychology studies in history. The study concluded that simply exposing subjects to a familiar stimulus there was an increased chance that they would rate it more positively than other similar stimuli, which had not been seen before. For example, in one study, he showed the portraits of five average-looking individuals to various subjects and then showed those same subjects multiple portraits in which the five average-looking individuals were mixed into the batch. Surprisingly, the subjects ranked the individuals who were in the first batch more attractive than the others even though they everyone in the test was determined “average” looking in a previous test.


What the study show’s is the power of being elsewhere. It shows the power of being present on more channels than just Twitter and the power of showing up on the sites in which your customers are spending their time. Repetition builds a bond. People feel a sense of warmth and connection to those they see on a regular basis whether they know it consciously or not.

As such, it’s important for businesses, marketers and sales professionals to spend their time identifying where their target audience is and spend their time being there.

What the study show’s is the power of being elsewhere. It shows the power of being present on more channels than just Twitter and the power of showing up on the sites in which your customers are spending their time. Repetition builds a bond. People feel a sense of warmth and connection to those they see on a regular basis whether they know it consciously or not.

As such, it’s important for businesses, marketers and sales professionals to spend their time identifying where their target audience is and spend their time being there.

12. Give Help Whenever Possible

When you’re out to provide value to your customers, you will start so see a change in the way people treat you. Try to live by the age old “Give more than you take” philosophy on Twitter and people will remember you. Not only will they remember you but they will also look at you as a brand or professional that truly cares about those they serve. This sentiment of service will then be translated and attributed to your business, which increases your chances of driving new business.

When you’re looking to offer help to your customers, don’t limit your assistance to your industry either. If you’re a Real Estate agent, don’t just reach out to people when they say they’re on the job hunt – reach out to them when their asking where they should take their husband for his birthday. If you’re in b2b sales, instead of only reaching out when someone is looking for your offering, reach out when someone is looking for hotel recommendations your city.

13. Listen More Than You Tweet.

The key to being able to do #12 effectively is the ability to listen. Social media is a very noisy place, which makes it challenging for brands, and professionals looking for these social engagement leads. Some of the most common practices to looking for relevant conversations is using the traditional Twitter search and using keywords and key phrases to find relevant content.

The keyword and key phrase set up worked in the early days of social media but that was before 40Million people were using Twitter. That was before more than 180,000 tweets were sent out every hour and there wasn’t hundreds of spam bots crawling the web looking to retweet, favourite and clog up your newsfeed. Thus, there needs to be a better way.

LeadSift is one solution that offers that service by sifting through millions of conversations to only deliver the timeliest and relevant social media engagement leads directly to you. For example, LeadSift would sift through millions of tweets where users are talking about buying a car and deliver a client with only the social engagement leads that are relevant to their brand and within the geo-location of their choice. Further, each lead delivered will be ranked and scored from 1-100 based on its quality using a ranking of cold, warm and hot.

This is how you can listen. This is how you can save time and identify the potential customers who are looking for your product or service but you’re currently missing out on.

14. Remember. You Are What You Tweet.

It’s as simple as that. If you tweet about your industry every day for a year, people will associate you with industry knowledge. If you tweet about the Bachelor and the latest TMZ Gossip, people will associate you with pop culture knowledge (or lack there-of). One way or another, the way that you tweet will influence the perception of your brand and what you represent.

What other ways can you build meaningful relationships on Twitter?

 We’d love to connect with you there! Give us a follow today: @LeadSift.


Five Steps to Building a Loyal Following on Twitter

We’re all guilty of watching anxiously as our Twitter followers grow, sometimes slowly and if you’re lucky (or strategic about it) it can grow at a much faster rate. But that number doesn’t necessarily translate into success. The key to being successful on Twitter is maintaining and growing a loyal following . This means having people follow you who understand who you are and find value in what you offer.

A loyal following is engaged with you and finds the content you share useful and/or interesting. If you’re looking to build a loyal following on Twitter, here are five steps to get you started.

Have an complete profile
A current and relevant profile bio is a great place to start. A good first impression on Twitter is key to attracting new followers. Use your Twitter bio to indicate the type of content you’ll be sharing, your interests and what your purpose is. This will attract followers that share the same interests and find value in your activity. These users are more likely to retweet and share your content and engage in conversations with you.

People are more likely to connect with, and trust, a Twitter user that posts a photograph in their profile, rather than a company logo or an avatar. Although, company logos can work, it takes a lot more work to be seen as human, when your face is hidden behind a graphic.

Share intentional content
Whether it’s informative, creative, supportive, or entertaining, be intentional with each tweet. Ensure that the content you share on twitter has a purpose; it meets the needs of your followers, offers new information or is supportive of other users.

Be engaging
Being active and engaged on Twitter is arguably the most important step in developing a loyal following. Twitter is about more than just “creeping” and reaping the benefits of others’ tweets, it’s about participating in conversations and offering value. Being engaged with your network means actively replying, retweeting and sending out links that direct your followers to quality content.

Use Twitter directories
Twitter directories categorize Twitter users into areas of interest and expertise. Here you can find influencers that share your interests. Following people of high quality will enhance your credibility and give you access to quality content to share.
Schedule your tweets
Scheduling your tweets allows you to remain active even when you’re not sitting at the computer. Tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite allow you to prepare, schedule and send tweets at a later time or date. Managing your tweets through an organized schedule ensures that you are tweeting regularly without having to return to your Twitter feed to issue the release. The benefit? It gives the impression to your followers that you’re an active participant on Twitter. However, you’re not completely off the hook. You should still make time to retweet and have conversations.

The formula for building a loyal following on Twitter is simple. Spend some time focusing your identity and developing your Twitter profile and bio, engage in meaningful ways with your followers, follow people who are like-minded and share your niche, offer your followers relevant and interesting content regularly and manage your tweets using a scheduling tool. These steps will not only help you be an efficient tweeter, but will increase your follower count in no time.