We're all familiar with the classic model of marketing a business: send one-way advertisements to existing and potential customers. However, the marketing game has changed. With the rise of Twitter, customers now have the power to talk back. Are you listening?
Twitter allows you to enter a large virtual "party" of conversations. You sign up, create a Twitter identity, and start building your network of contacts. Unlike traditional business marketing strategies, this usually starts with listening to others.
Your first business marketing task is to find Twitter contacts to follow. Keep in mind, these are people you're listening to. They aren't listening back - not yet. Who can your business learn from?
- Current customers using Twitter
- People criticizing or discussing your business
- Business marketing experts and industry leaders
- People who share industry information
Finding Twitter contacts
The Find People link at the top of the Twitter page allows you to search for Twitter user names (if known) and also search your e-mail contacts. You also have the option to invite non-users to join Twitter.
To the right of the Twitter window is a Search box. Enter terms related to your business, and you'll see a list of recent Twitter conversations that include the search terms you used.
When you find a person of interest, just click their user name, and click Follow.
As you listen to your new contacts, you can comment on their messages ("tweets"). This begins a public conversation. You can also tweet items of value to your potential marketing audience, such as:
- Industry news items
- Reciprocal business marketing (giveaways, contests)
- Tools, tips, and links
Other people doing Twitter searches or replying to your comments will begin to follow you, especially if your tweets hold value. Examples of valuable tweets include smart conversations and replies, links to your own or others' blog posts, industry news and tips, and the occasional contest or promotion. Blatant marketing doesn't make the list. Remember, you're not using Twitter to blatantly market your business; you're using it to exchange information.
You'll know you're adding value by the numbers: your Twitter follower list will grow. Potential customers will find you, and if you're representing your business well, this will make a strong impression - which is one of the best marketing strategies of all.
In a technical sense, Twitter is easy to use. What takes more effort is crafting an effective Twitter marketing strategy for your business.