How Small Businesses Can Drive Real Results From Twitter

Do you remember when signing up a business for Twitter was a surprise to customers? Do you remember when it was a big deal to announce you were finally using Twitter on your door signs and billboards? It was like a gold rush in various industries to see who could get the buy in from their team first.

Today, it’s expected that your business is on Twitter. It’s still important to let your customers know you’re signing up if you don’t have an account, but it’s something that most customers expect. In fact, if you’re not there, you can bet that your customers are there talking about your product and discussing your story.

For small businesses, it’s not easy managing the day to day job of managing the business and balancing that with social media. It’s not easy, but it’s a part of running a business in todays digitally enabled world. As business owners, it’s important to recognize social interactions online as being just as valuable as those that happen in person.

Twitter presents an unfiltered communication channel between your business and customers. People are able to share their feedback on your product or services in real time. Smartphones enable them to capture photos and videos to further showcase your organization and experience. Here are a few ways that small businesses can leverage Twitter to drive success:

Develop Relationships With Local Media
Twitter has become an extremely valuable asset to small businesses looking to generate press. While it’s not a tool like Cision or Vocus that is made specifically for PR pitches, it’s a tool that can be leveraged to drive earned media.

Instead of using Twitter to simply pitch a journalist, small businesses need to use Twitter to build relationships with journalists. Retweet a reporters articles, tweets, and favourite their content on a regular basis to get on their radar. It’s these small interactions that build a soft relationship which can leveraged overtime.

Once you’ve built a soft relationship with targeted journalists, be sure to strike up conversation with them organically. If you disagree with them, ask them a question about one of their ideas or conclusions. It’s in doing this that you’re able to show you know your topic and help them see the value of having you in their network or rolodex. 

Follow & Interact With Clients & Customers
A lot of people ask whether or not their business should follow their customers and I always say yes. In small business, you need to have relationships with your customers if you’re hoping to succeed. Customers want to have a relationship with you and they want to know you care enough to follow them back on Twitter. One of the greatest benefits of Twitter is building strong meaningful relationships.

If you happen to notice it’s a Twitter follower’s birthday, say Happy Birthday. If a Twitter follower is asking about your product or service, interact with them and provide value. Do not be afraid to engage with potential or existing customers. People want you to provide them with solutions. If you have an answer to their question, they crave it.

Share Brand Specific Visuals & Video Content
If you’re in the product industry, one of the most impactful approaches to social media is sharing images of your product. Take a picture of a customer using your product or a glamorous shot that shows your product in a compelling way. Spread this content by sharing it on Twitter and allowing people to engage with your image.

Twitter is becoming more and more visual every year. Recognizing the power of visual marketing, Twitter has changed their newsfeed to show photos prior to a click. Photos are showing up in full rather than requiring a click to a link because they have noticed the trend in people sharing and engaging more readily with photos over basic text. For your business, this presents an opportunity to spread your story in a more effective way.  

Retweet The Positive Tweets As Testimonials 
If you have a good product, people will talk about it. In the past, the only time you would hear someone talking about your product was in your storefront or over the phone. Today, small businesses are subject to both praise and criticism on social media. When you see someone talking positively about your brand, share their content with a retweet and also thank them for their testimonial. In doing so, your followers will see their positive statement and possibly be compelled to do business with you.

The reason so many small businesses are still questioning the power of Twitter is that they’ve yet to tap into its true value. Every day, there are thousands of conversations that small businesses could turn into sales and results. Tools like LeadSift sift through the millions of conversations to deliver these potential customers directly to small business owners and marketing teams.

It’s time to capitalize on the true power of Twitter. Whether it’s through more effective social media management or social lead generation – The time is now. Stop doing what you’re doing and start capitalizing on your ability to use Twitter to drive real results.

 

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.

Mere-Effect

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.

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Five Common Twitter Mistakes You Should Avoid

Twitter is an effective way to disseminate information to a large quantity of people who share similar interests or to those who look to you as a subject matter expert. With only 140 characters to use, it can be challenging to get your message across clearly and concisely. Even experienced Tweeters make mistakes sometimes – it happens.

Knowing the most common Twitter mistakes will help you avoid them in the future.

1. Tweets Explosion
Many Twitter users make the mistake of tweeting too much, too often and then ignoring their Twitter feed for the remainder of the day. It’s easy to get excited and motivated to be active on social media but sending out 50 tweets in the matter of 30 minutes is a bit much. In order to remain relevant and top of mind to your followers you should send out your tweets at regular intervals throughout the day. Tweeting in bursts can irritate your followers and result in them unfollowing you, or not taking you seriously.

Use tools like HootSuite or Buffer to schedule tweets that will automatically be posted at designated times throughout the day.

2. Chatting about the No-No’s
A lot of brands make the mistake of taking part in dialogue that really should be kept behind close doors. One of the easiest ways to lose a handful of customers is to wave your political views flag or bash another persons beliefs or religion. Trust me. I’ve seen brands do it and it’s not a pretty sight. Focus on creating and sharing content that builds a meaningful relationship with your customers with conversations and dialogue that you would have if you were on a first date.

3. Lacking a focus
It’s common for those who first join Twitter to tweet about everything under the sun. For instance, you might start by thinking you’ll tweet about “sales”, “start-ups” “social media” and “local events”. Launch your Twitter presence with a focus on one or two of those topics. This will help you establish your voice and give your followers a clear understanding of the sort of information they’ll be receiving from you. Naturally, as you develop your following and establish your voice, you’ll begin to cover more and more topics.

4. Mentions that limit exposure
It’s good practice to mention others in your Tweets. It not only engages your followers in a discussion or publically shines light on your opinion of them/their tweet, but it also makes your followers aware of the type of interactions you have with others. This is all good stuff. But many times users are unknowingly limiting their exposure by mentioning improperly. When you tweet about an article or blog post and use the @ sign, people will only see the tweet if they follow you and the person you mentioned. Use [email protected] (preceded by a period) so everyone, regardless if they follow both of you, can see the tweet.

5. Finger on the trigger
There’s nothing worse than tweeting something too quickly and immediately realizing that you misspelled the handle of someone you wanted to mention, made a typo or included a broken link. This can be embarrassing, easily annoy your followers, and damage your credibility as an expert.

Take time to proof your tweet before you click “send” and save yourself some grief. After all, there is no going back once you’ve released it into the Twittersphere.

Twitter is an effective tool to build and nurture relationships with industry, clients and fans alike when used correctly and strategically. Avoiding these five common mistakes will help you build valuable relationships and expand your network of influence.

What are some other common Twitter mistakes that are easily avoidable?

Five Ways to Establish a Trust-worthy Presence on Twitter

Twitter is an effective place to find sales leads, build relationships with prospective customers and close deals. So effective that we wrote an ebook about how you can close deals using Twitter (shameless plug). We believe that Twitter is not only an effective tool to leverage brand awareness but also build meaningful relationships with potential leads and customers.

Companies typically start by developing a plan, choosing the right social platform, creating and launching a brand presence, integrating social media tools with business goals and then pushing out their content. However, with only 140 characters to share and a feed that updates in minutes, it can be challenging to find your voice and establish credibility on Twitter.

The trust factor is the most important piece to the Twitter puzzle. Your followers will be more likely to engage with your content and respond to your calls to action if they believe you and if they trust you.

Here’s five ways to establish trust on Twitter:

1. Be personal
Twitter users want to follow brands that they identify with. Use a profile picture that represents your company accurately but at the same time isn’t too formal. Don’t hide behind the egg and consider putting an actual face to the brand. Don’t be afraid to disclose the person behind the tweets or identify the employees that are tweeting on behalf of the company.  Also make sure to update your profile with relevant information about your brand and the content you will be tweeting about. Keep your tweets conversational and insert some personality.

2. Tweet what you know
Tweet your company’s expertise. Your followers will appreciate the exclusive content you can offer on Twitter and it will make you stand out as a reliable expert and source of information.

3. Tweet regularly
Keep your followers engaged and aware of your company’s activities. Remain consistent and tweet regularly. Don’t forget about current affairs and news items. This can be easy content and will show your followers that you are engaged and interested in subjects that are of interest to them.

4. Show your support
People tend to trust and engage more with tweets that have been retweeted or mentioned by their friends, brands, organizations, and other accounts they follow. The more engagement your brand generates the more recognition and trust you’ll derive from others.

5. Content counts
Share interesting content about your company as well as content that isn’t directly related to your product or service. In order to build a trustworthy relationship with your followers you should offer content that adds value to them and aligns with their interests, even if it’s not about you. This will help demonstrate that you care about the relationship you’re building and you have valuable content that doesn’t directly impact your bottom line.

What An NBA Championship Can Teach Us About Business & Social Media

The year was 1997 and Space Jam had officially cemented Michael Jordan’s legacy. It was the NBA Finals and the Chicago Bulls were up against the Utah Jazz. The championship game was coming down to two teams that had amazing seasons and were filled with NBA Hall of Famers.

It was 3-2 in the series and an ongoing battle between two of the most impressive teams in the league. It was amazing to watch as the team’s battle back and forth but one thing stood out. In Basketball, like many sports, there are two sides of the game: offense and defense.

The Utah Jazz were amazing on defense; grabbing rebounds, generating steals and forcing turnovers. Yet, the Bulls, matched them defensively and surpassed them offensively. This allowed the Chicago Bulls to beat the Utah Jazz two years in a row and be coined one of the most impressive dynasties in all of sports.

The idea of having a strong offense and defense is something that is just as important in business as it is in sports. If you could make a comparison, it’s fair to say that in business, customer service, crisis management and public relations goes along the lines of defense. It’s built on the importance of protecting your brands reputation and ensuring that issues are resolved.

But where’s the offense? Offense puts points on the board. It’s what differentiated the Bulls from the Jazz. It’s what differentiates the companies who survive and the companies who thrive. It’s the idea of developing a sales funnel that is fully integrated between both marketing and sales.

The beginning of a successful offense is found in their ability to identify key opportunities to score. It’s important for sports teams to create plans that will make it easier to score and get the ball in the hand of their most valuable player.

In business, the concept is the same. Sales teams need to develop plans and strategies that will help them score. They need to practice and build their talents so they can beat the competition and stand as leaders in their industry.

It all starts with opportunity. If a defender is slow to the line, it presents a better opportunity for a player to score. If a point guard has a clear path to the hoop, it presents a better opportunity for them to score. Opportunities are the livelihood of a solid offensive strategy and team.

In business, opportunities are found in leads. Leads are the livelihood of a healthy sales process and sales funnel. Yet, there are a handful of leads going untapped every day in a variety of different industries. Whether it’s leads in automotive or leads in the telecom industry; these are missed opportunities to put points on the board.

Today, we live in a world that is more connected than ever before. Brands are connected with customers and sellers are more connected with buyers due to the power of technology and social media. As such, there has been increase in the number of people communicating on social media about their needs and wants. And while brands have been reactive in responding to complaints (playing defense) they have missed an opportunity to fulfill demand (playing offense) when potential leads are sharing messages that indicate intent to buy.

It’s time for businesses to start playing better offense. It’s time for businesses to look in the mirror and determine whether or not they want to be the Bulls or if they want to be the Jazz.

How is your organization playing offense on social media? Have you seen any brands doing well? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!