Twitter is a great prospecting tool, but how do you use it to connect with new customers without coming off as spammy?
According to a late-2013 study, 67% of customers were more likely to purchase from a brand they followed on Twitter. But what about connecting with those customers who are not following you?
In a sea of noise, sometimes it is hard to stand out and not turn off prospective customers. Still, business owners seeking to build relationships can take advantage of the 271 million monthly active users on Twitter.
This week, I’ll share some keys to reaching new, qualified prospects using Twitter.
Service Over Sales
The first key to reaching prospective customers is to enter the Twittersphere with the right mentality. You must place the customer’s needs first. Without the right focus, your marketing efforts will miss the mark and end up wasting your time and resources.
When prospecting on Twitter, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Are your marketing messages something you would like to receive?
Consider a home buyer looking to relocate to a new city. Proactive real estate agents can take advantage of Twitter by listening for folks talking about “relocating”, “moving”, “house hunting“, or “looking at houses“. All of these signal the user’s intent and is pretty good sign that they are in need of an agent’s services.
When putting the customer’s needs first, a social-savvy real estate agent can reply with non-committal questions that start the conversation rather than try to close the sale. For example, “how many rooms/baths do you need?” Or, “Are nearby parks or schools important?” Or, “Are you looking for new construction? Renovation?”
I think social media is most effective when you use it to create personal connections. We mainly talk to people one-on-one instead of sending mass messages. Lots of people out there are already looking for whatever it is you have to offer, but you have to seek them out instead of waiting for them to come to you.
You can even use Twitter to steal customers from your competition. Use Twitter search to find people tweeting about your competition’s name or product; then sift through the results and look for anyone who may have a question or is upset. If they have a question, answer it without pitching your own product or service. This will help with your brand awareness and will generate more customers for you.
Personalization is Paramount
When brands put their social media marketing on auto-pilot, it shows. Don’t insult your followers by using bland, meaningless automation in place of real conversation. When a human is asking a question, respect them enough to offer a solution with a human touch.
Auto-responders, auto-follow, auto-favoriting are all indicators that a brand does not value the customer relationship. Stand out from your competition and personalize your messaging.
If your brand is geographically-bound, meaning you cannot effectively service a large market; use Twitter’s powerful search feature to limit visible tweets to your service area.
If I wanted to only see tweets from the Seattle, Washington area, I would enter this into Twitter’s advanced search function:
near:"Seattle, WA" within:15mi
Real-Time Marketing is a Must
Small businesses can make use of real-time marketing as a competitive advantage. By pairing the power of advanced Twitter searches and active listening for your ideal customer’s problems, you can find people who are in need of your services now.
Gone are the days when you could plan out your marketing and public relations programs well in advance and release them on your timetable. It’s a real-time world now, and if you’re not engaged, then you’re on your way to marketplace irrelevance.
–David Meerman Scott, Marketing and Sales Strategist
There are some cases where the customer’s need is urgent – they need a solution now. Imagine you are a plumber and a frustrated homeowner, who has spent the last hour plunging their toilet, finally reaches out on Twitter.
An effective helpful tweet from you, a plumber, would be:
The same for an attentive locksmith. When someone has locked their keys or small child in a car, they want immediate solutions.
Think of the potential!
If the problem is not urgent, or needing to be solved immediately, consider it an opportunity to establish a trusted relationship. Always give before you ask.
For example, if you are a website designer, and someone tweets that they need to redesign their website, use your reply to build a foundation of trust. Send a quick comment and link to your blog post “Top 10 Things To Factor Before A Website Redesign”.
Every well-rounded marketing strategy includes the ability to measure and validate your actions.
Use retweets, shares, clicks, and replies to gauge the effectiveness and helpfulness of your tweets.
Knowing what to share is also a challenge when building business relationships on Twitter.
If the question demands an answer longer than the 140-character limit of Twitter, share shortened links to the appropriate resource.
If you have been blogging regularly, it is acceptable to share a link to a blog post that directly answers the question asked. The same for a whitepaper or downloadable premium content (I would suggest you have a modified process in this instance, rather than sending a link to your landing page — which could appear spammy).
Additionally, if you do not have the answer readily available on your own website, or it the question is on the fringe of your service menu, share a link to a trusted resource.
These actions establish you and your brand as an authority and expert in your field. Remember, keep the service ahead of the sale, and you will be rewarded for your efforts.
Twitter is a great platform for reaching people who are in need of your services right now. As long as you are focused on providing value over pitching your products, your responses won’t come off as spammy.
Not only be able to get more qualified prospects from Twitter, but you’ll also grow a stronger and more lovable brand presence.