Since I’m such a twitteraholic these days, I find I’m often getting questions from colleagues about what twitter can do for business. My twitterbuddy, Matthew Ringer, who you can follow on Twitter here, wrote a great blog post that he gave me permission to share with you here. Thanks, Matt!
While Twitter could be called a toddler on the maturation scale – business involvement with Twitter is still very much in its infancy.
The fluidity, and speed at which information is being transferred is exciting and daunting all at the same time. There is little wonder with hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter, and millions of Tweets each day, you get the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all.
The good news is that integrating Twitter into your business model doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intimidating. The following three simple steps will get you on your way to unlocking the power of Twitter for your business.
The following assumes you have a basic understanding of Twitter. If you don’t, here is a good Twitter Manual to get you started. Read over it and come on back, we’ll still be here.
Step 1 – Listen
Think of Twitter as a real world conversation – because that’s what it is. You wouldn’t barge into a cocktail party and start talking only about what interests you, would you? Probably not. More likely you’d take the time to listen to the conversations and add your opinion, thoughts, or ideas on the topic being discussed.
Twitter is no different. Throwing out an unsolicited tweet that your company is offering a special deal has about as much impact as interjecting in a cocktail party conversation about politics that you love chess.
How do you listen?
Short of sitting in front of the computer and watching 100’s of tweets scroll across your screen, the main way you listen to the conversation is through searching Twitter for items that are of interest to you.
Searching is your gateway into the Twitter chatter, and an invitation to join the party. There are numerous ways to search,Twitter Search and Twitter Troll just to name a couple. For an extensive look at the search options available, have a look at theHow to Search Twitter the Advanced Guide – go ahead, again we’ll be here when you get back.
The next question is what are you searching for?
You are searching for people discussing things that are relevant to you. Searching for your name, company name, products you sell (or would like to sell) and industry chatter are all a great way to start.
These are the conversations you want to join. These are the people you want to interact with.
Step 2 – Respond
After listening to the conversations of interest, it’s time to respond and enter the conversation yourself.
Again you are not just barging in, but adding to what is being discussed. This should be very easy since you’re following conversations of interest to you and your business, and your expertise in the area being discussed will have something to add.
When responding your first order of business is to ask yourself “where can I help?” Helping could mean passing along expert advice, addressing an upset customer, or giving an opinion of the topic at hand.
While we’re at it. If you find a customer who is unhappy with you, your business, or your products this is low hanging fruit in establishing the credibility of your company. Address these issues up front, and honestly. Take responsibility and make any wrongs right. You’ll go a long way in rebuilding the relationship with those customers and attracting new ones due to your stellar customer service.
Back to the conversation you are responding too. Much like the cocktail party, you are integrating into what is being discussed. Establish a presence in the conversation by being on topic – and always add value to the conversation before expecting the conversation to add value $$$ for you
Step 3 – Engage
The final step in the process is to engage. By now you’ve followed the right conversations, and woven yourself into them by responding and adding value. The last step is to engage others in the conversation. Remember as you have been listening and responding, others have been listening and responding to you. It’s time to engage your audience. Get them involved. Start new conversations with them by asking questions, soliciting feedback, or asking for advice and opinions.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
And now the process repeats itself. Listen-Respond-Engage.
The more you do it, the more credibility you gain, the more you learn about your market, and the more you put yourself in the path of potential customers.
At this point you’ll start to see the true benefit from using Twitter for business. As an active Listener – Responder – Engager you will be able ot occasionally share the “Hot Deal” or “Once in a lifetime offer” with your followers and have them actually respond to it.
You’ve build the relationship with them where that is now appropriate. You can sometimes “help them” by “helping yourself” as well.
Like anything worth doing, using Twitter for your business will take time and effort on your part.
However, I am confident that if you consistently apply the three steps above you will see a direct, positive impact to your business.
There is opportunity to increase sales, acquire more leads, or have more satisfied customers. And as you get better at unlocking the power of Twitter for your business, it is very realistic to achieve all three.