Have you gotten any sales leads from Twitter? Have you ever found any opportunities, whether personally or professionally, from the micro-blogging network?
While some of the social media purists might still gnash their teeth and pound their laptops from the safety of their moms’ basements, anyone who wants to see Twitter (and other social media tools) succeed needs to show their bosses that it can generate business. If you’re in sales or marketing, here are four ways you can use Twitter as a lead generation tool.
1) Connect With People in Your Industry.
Twitter is a great way to easily get connected with people in your industry. Use tools like Twellow (for Twitter Yellow Pages) to find people in your industry, and search.twitter.com to find people talking about your industry keywords. Also try Googling a title and/or company with the words “on Twitter” in the search. So, look for VP of Creative Services on Twitter or Professional Blog Service on Twitter, and see what pops up.
If you’re a TweetDeck user or use Twitter lists, save your industry contacts into their own list, and communicate with them. By keeping them in their own list, you’re more easily able to see what they’re talking about.
2) Build Relationships.
The newbie mistake that many new Twitter marketers use is to treat Twitter like an advertising channel. That is one thing you absolutely cannot do. People don’t want you to sell to them.
Instead, establish relationships. Have conversations with them, retweet them, introduce people, share articles, ask them questions. If they’re local people, or you have a chance to attend industry conferences, connect with them in person. Meet for lunch or coffee, and create that all-important offline relationship. Then, you’re a person, not a handle. You have a face, not an avatar. By creating those relationships, you become someone they’ll trust, especially if they ever need what it is that you do.
But never, ever try to sell anything. Do that in phone calls and meetings, when the time is right, not when they start following you.
3) Establish Your Expertise.
When people have a problem, make sure they know you’re the one to solve it. Answer questions, share information, refer useful articles to them. If you write a blog (you do write a blog, don’t you?), share the useful posts with them. Ask them to comment, and leave thoughtful comments on their blog.
If you’re trying to reach people in your industry, write about topics related to that industry, especially if you can make them useful to the problems your Twitter network is having. For example, if you own a Mac repair shop, and you know a bunch of Mac-owning public speakers, and you know a lot of them are having problems dealing with the new Keynote 09 (which, irritatingly, ruined a bunch of my past slide decks. Thank God for backups), you could write a couple blog posts about how to solve that problem.
Then, forward the article on to them via Twitter or DM. They’ll see that you know your stuff (as well as theirs), and they’re more likely to call you for that problem that can’t be fixed with a few keystrokes, or explosive cursing and an external hard drive.
4) Direct or Facilitate the Conversation.
If you create the subject people are talking about, or steer people to the place where they can find answers, you are helping people figure out they may need your product or service in the first place.
The best example I can give is Apple computers. Before 2001, no one knew they needed a portable MP3 player. No one knew they needed a way to play music on anything besides a portable CD player. No one knew they needed a way to create or listen to podcasts, or that they could even learn through radio shows of random length and scheduling. Once Apple introduced the iPod, people realized they needed this device, and the industry changed.
By directing or facilitating the conversation, you can help people see the pain point they never knew they had, and they will look to you for solutions.
How do you use Twitter as a lead generation tool? Do you even do that, or do you think it’s just wrong and that people shouldn’t do it? Leave a comment, and let us hear from you.
My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.