When was the last time you got a lead through Twitter?
Perhaps I should rephrase that . . . Have you ever gotten a lead through Twitter?
If you are reading this post, you’re probably becoming disillusioned with this particular social network. It requires a tremendous amount of time and you have yet to see a payoff for your efforts. Trust me, I know how frustrating this can be.
But, you cannot expect to find leads if the only thing you are doing is posting company updates and curated articles. While this is certainly an essential part of the equation and you may occasionally get lucky, for true lead generation you must be intentional about engagement.
Many people attempt to emulate the posts that are shared by big-name marketers, but those posts can appear deceptively simple. The reality is that countless hours of research, analysis, planning and testing were invested in making them work. It is also likely that those posts are backed by a ton of content that guides their target audience through a carefully constructed buyer’s journey. This is not an easy (or cheap) process.
Small business owners or individual contributors with limited marketing support would be better served by making the most of their daily time investment on Twitter by listening, engaging and building true one-on-one connections.
Rather than attempting big-name marketing on a shoestring budget, here are 6 things you can do instead.
1. Schedule Your Daily Tweets
If you are logging into Twitter several times a day to post updates you are wasting your time. Plan your tweets in advance and load them into a scheduler so they can be released at regular intervals throughout the day. Some argue that scheduling tweets will diminish the experience, but that’s not true. All that will happen is you will gain the freedom you need to focus your time on engaging.
Any social media management tool should include a scheduler, but if you are looking for something inexpensive (or free) my personal favorite is Buffer. Other popular options are TweetDeck (owned by Twitter) and Hootsuite. If you are concerned that real-time events will make your scheduled tweets ill-timed choose a scheduler with a “pause” feature.
2. Use Advanced Search to Find and Engage in Relevant Conversations
One of the special things about Twitter is that all tweets are public so you don’t need a reciprocal relationship to interact. When users post a question or express frustration in this venue, they know it can be seen by anyone and they tend to welcome respectful engagement. Leverage this fact to find questions or concerns for which you can offer a solution.
Twitter’s advanced search feature is helpful for finding these conversations. Using Boolean logic, you can combine keywords to create targeted searches. When looking for leads, think about the questions or concerns your target audience might share on Twitter.
For example, if your company is in the software space and sells a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, it would be common to type “CRM” into Twitter’s search tool. This would return an overwhelming number of tweets that may or may not be reflective of your target audience.
With advanced search you can create targeted searches that look more like this:
Recommendation AND (CRM OR “customer relationship management”)
This will return a shorter list of tweets that you can scroll through in search of relevant queries:
Experiment with the different phrases people might use when seeking solutions and pair them with keywords that are relevant for your business. Some phrases you might explore include:
- “I want”
- “I need”
- “looking for”
- “recommend” or “recommendation”
- “Does anyone know of”
- “have a suggestion for”
Another approach is to search for phrases people might use when they have a problem, but have not yet identified a solution. In this case, your query might be as follows:
- “better way” AND “track leads” AND “?”
- software AND “manage customers” AND “?”
Adding the question mark tells advanced search that you want to see tweets that include questions.
You can get quite creative with these searches, so experiment with keyword combinations until you find something that works for you. Then, save the winning combinations so you can return to them as part of your daily routine.
A word of caution – When you find a promising conversation do not make the mistake of going straight for “the ask.” Engage on Twitter the same way you would in person – offer help, answer questions or provide relevant materials. Create an opportunity to move the relationship to the next level, but do not go straight for the sale. That is considered just as rude on social media as it is in person.
3. Leverage Trending or Topical Hashtags
Hashtags are used on Twitter to categorize tweets and manage conversations around real-time events. They allow us to find and engage in discussions related to conferences, shows, sporting events, social or promotional activities and even more casual themes like #MondayMotivation. Hashtags also help us communicate when an urgent world event occurs.
When you log into Twitter, you will see a list of hashtags that are trending on the left side of your home screen. You can choose to view trending topics on a global scale or narrow your focus to topics that are trending in your geographic location.
When hashtags are trending it means that there are many people communicating around that topic at that specific time. If you have something productive to add to the conversation, jumping into a trending hashtag can be a good way to connect with other active and like-minded Twitter users.
4. Invite Conversation Through Your Posts
Once you have established a substantial following you can leverage your daily posts to invite engagement. Experiment with different types of posts to see what works with your target audience and be sure to include hashtags to expand the reach of these posts beyond your followers. Ask questions, run polls, share humor or experiment with visual posts like video, GIFs or creative images.
This suggestion will require a lot of experimentation and a thick skin as it will push you into competition with the marketing tweets I mentioned in my introduction. Achieving engagement on Twitter is a numbers game. The larger and more relevant your following is the better your chances are for engagement.
Only a fraction of your followers will see a given post and even less of them will engage, so try not to take it personally if you don’t get much response. If this activity falls flat for you, refocus on growing your following, go back to one-on-one engagement and try again later.
5. Participate in Live Events Such as Chats or Blabs
Another way to reach a wider audience on Twitter is to participate in live events such as chats or blabs. Chats and blabs are group events where people discuss a thematic topic in real-time.
Twitter chats are scheduled conversations that center on a common topical hashtag. Chats are typically hosted by a moderator, sometimes feature a guest and involve a series of questions that participants discuss. Blabs are a similar concept except they incorporate live video. Blabs include video space for four speakers at a time and the remaining participants chime in via chat.
These events move quickly, but once you get the hang of it they are a lot of fun and a fantastic way to make new connections.
There are a number of sources for finding Twitter chats. One that I find useful is Tweet Reports. To find a Blab, go directly to the Blab.im website and login using your Twitter account to find real-time conversations and search for scheduled events.
For detailed instructions on how to participate in chats please view my post titled “Everything You Need to Know About Twitter Chats.”
6. Nurture Promising Connections by Creating and Monitoring Lists
Once you have found relevant people to engage with on Twitter, keep track of them and nurture the relationships by adding them to lists. Lists allow you to filter your view of incoming tweets so you can focus your listening and engagement on specific users. Compare this to the fast-moving stream of tweets in your home feed and you will quickly realize the utility.
Lists can be public or private and you can follow other peoples’ public lists. This post contains detailed information about how to create and use Twitter lists to harness the huge world of Twitter and mold it to suit your needs.
Finding leads isn’t easy on Twitter or anywhere else. Some of the above techniques will be more applicable to you than others and you simply will not have time to try them all at once. Take it slow and experiment until you find what works for your particular situation.
You will have a much better chance of success and will experience less frustration if you plan ahead. Set measurable goals, commit to a specific plan of daily activity, monitor your results and make adjustments as needed.
Using Twitter for lead generation is a cycle. It starts with identifying your target audience, creating a profile and building a following. It then continues into creating campaigns and monitoring results then starts all over again. The “campaigns” step can include professional marketing campaigns, but it can also include the mindful application of listening and engagement techniques.
With a little patience I am confident that you will find something that works. If you would like to share your experience please do so in the comments below or contact me directly to discuss this privately.
5 Reasons Why Twitter is Not a Waste of Time
How to Effectively Use Twitter for Lead Generation
Everything You Need to Know About Twitter Chats
Favorite Free Tools for Twitter Management
Twitter Management Tips for Beginners: Using Lists
Twitter Engagement Tips: A Toolkit for Beginners
Twitter Set-Up Tips: A Toolkit for Beginners