Here's the "money post" I promised. It outlines my thoughts on how to use Twitter to network, make connections and generate leads. (Here are links to Part 1, 2, 3 and 31/2) But first...
Resources from Ogilvy PR
Over the weekend I came across a couple of resources from Ogilvy PR that present the best business case for using Twitter that I've seen, hands down. The first is a PPT slide deck and the second a list of best practices.
Do yourself a favor and review both resources.
My Twitter Business Plan of Action
I'm going to begin by outlining a simple, workable social media marketing strategy that applies to any form of social media engagement, including Twitter. So simple, in fact, it consists of only two words, listen and engage.
My mother always told me, "Paul, God gave you two ears and one mouth. He did that for a reason. Listen twice as much as you speak." (Bet your mom told you the same thing, right?)
You cannot become an effective in social media marketing if you don't first listen to what's being said about you, your company, brand, service, industry and competition. Listening is the new marketing, someone said, but it's not something we're prone to do. Still, that's where it begins.
There are two ways to listen via Twitter:
- Search - Complete searches using Twitter search and other such tools - Tweetscan and Twemes are two that come to mind - on relevant keywords, including those related to your geographic area.
- Follow - Start following others where it makes sense to do so.
Keeping in mind that Twitter is just another marketing channel, go back to the basics and ask yourself the same questions you'd ask when considering any other form of marketing: "Who is my market?" "Who am I attempting to reach?" "What niche am I seeking to penetrate?"
Is it a certain demographic? The average Twitter user
is 35 and older, is likely male (60% of users are) who has between 100 - 500 followers. Is it a certain geographic area? Find those people and start following them. Many will return the favor.
(That's not to say you don't follow others who don't exactly fit your target market criteria. It's just to suggest that you be very intentional and purposeful in your selection.)
Not being a Realtor, I'm working under a set of assumptions regarding where your business comes from:
- Buyers/sellers in your geographic market (and occasionally from outside your area)
- Referrals from other Realtors.
If that's the case, it's as important to build relationships with others in your profession as it is prospective clients.
(One group it makes sense to follow are those you already know, some of whom might be using Twitter. If you use a Web-based mail program such as Gmail, the platform will search your list of contacts to find them. You can also send invitations to those in your database not currently using Twitter.)
In addition, if you're connected to fellow Realtors and prospects via Facebook or LinkedIn, connecting on Twitter will only serve to strengthen and personalize your relationship even more.
Once you see what people are saying relative to the keyword searches, the next step is to jump into the Twitterstream and respond.
Years ago, my father took a rather "direct" approach at teaching me to swim. One summer's day we boarded in our small boat and paddled out to the middle of the pond on our property. Dad grabbed me up, threw me in the water and stated matter-of-factly, "swim or drown."
Looking back, I'm sure he would not have allowed the latter. At the time, however, I determined the best course of action was to make for the shore, which I did with all haste. And, guess what, in the process I learned to swim.
I'm a bit like dad when it comes to Twitter in that I think the best approach is to joining or starting conversations is "swim or drown." Just jump in and start conversing.
OK, for the faint of heart, here are some "rules of engagement":
- Respond to what others are saying by adding your "two cents." Remember to use the "@" symbol when addressing an individual.
- Provide information those in your target market would consider valuable. It could be links to other sites, answers to questions, advice or opinion. Position yourself as a trusted resource. You're already doing that on your Web site and/or blog. Do it via Twitter as well.
- Engage in casual conversation with your followers. There are some who would suggest that, for business purposes, you shouldn't share the minuitia of your daily life or engage in casual conversation. To that I say, "Phooey." Social media marketing is as much about getting to know you on a personal level as it is professionally. Not only that, how are you going to get to know others if you don't converse with them. I think it's a matter of balance.
- One thing you don't want to do is solicit business or "pitch" people. You know the type: "Thanks for the follow. Check out my blog at _________." It's okay to let people know what you do, but Twitter is a medium for conversation, not solicitation. Include a link to your Web site in your bio. those who have an interest will check you out.
When Does the "Magic" Happen?
I was afraid you were going to ask that. You see, by participating in the conversation, the magic is happening -- but you have to give it a chance.
Social media marketing does not lend itself well to formulas. "Markets are conversations" and "participation is marketing" is the only formula I know that works. You have to win the right to be heard. By participating in the ongoing conversation, you turn strangers into friends and friends into customers. But, there is no "X times Y divided by Z" equals a lead or conversion.
That's true with a lot of advertising, is it not? Can you easily factor the ROI of a billboard, newspaper ad, or TV commercial? One thing is for sure, conversing on Twitter is a lot less expensive than a television commercial!
Keep in mind, you've been selective and purposeful in choosing those you follow. And, you've concentrated your efforts on providing valuable information and, as a result, have become a resource others trust. And the longer you do so, the more trust you'll earn.
So, let me challenge you to try Twitter and join the conversation. Over the past several days I've given you the insight, resources and ideas needed to get started. The only thing I can't give you is the impetus. That has to come from you.
If and when you do become engaged with Twitter, I'd be honored if you'd follow me. My handle is @pchaney