January 20, 2011
When did common sense take a backseat to “advanced social media tactics”? Social media marketers are seemingly on an endless quest for the new breakthrough technology, application, service or automated tool to accomplish maximum exposure. They’re chasing a metric, followers, which is often no better an indicator of success than the number of vowels in their name.
But for real, size doesn’t matter. A big “following” does not offset poor marketing tactics. Repeatedly shoving links down the throats of your 15,000 “followers” is not good use of social media. For those who merely curate others content to sell advertising or their affiliate businesses, I’m sure they would disagree. I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you. The business looking to build a brand. The business looking to build customer loyalty that you can carry with you from one technological fad to the next. The business that is looking longer term than the next few quarters. If you’re still with me, good. You’re trying to build a legitimate business. The bad news is, if you’ve been using the same social media tactics that are taught en masse from [insert social media ninja’s name] free e-book, you’re likely failing your company. The good news is, you’re here, and you’re ready to learn a better approach. Without further ado, I now present to you:
3 Effective Ways to Use Twitter for Business (Without Annoying People)
1. Stop talking, start listening
Do you know who owns your company? If your answer was anything other than “your customers”, you failed this quiz. Now, more than any other point in history, businesses have a much clearer understanding about exactly what their customers want. As a result, the products and services available to consumers have improved, and are ever improving. This is accomplished through a seldom used tactic in business known as “listening”. By tapping into the conversation that’s occurring in your industry, you can fully paint a picture of who your consumer is, what they want, what they don’t want, what they value, who their friends are, etc. The companies that listen best, consequently, are the best at adapting to consumer needs. Building a product or service, dusting your hands off, and back patting may coincide with temporary success. However, as soon as your competitor finds a chink in your armor, by listening to your consumers, it’s only a matter of time before they become their consumers.
Here’s how you use Twitter to listen: Pick your favorite Twitter client (I prefer Hootsuite), and set up 15-20 different search columns appropriate to your business. This can include (but is not limited to), industry keywords, your brand name, your competitor’s brands, geo-targeted searches, or trend based searches. Spend time every day looking through the collection of your consumers Tweets. See what they’re saying. See where you’re failing. See where your competitor is succeeding. Adjust your model. Eventually you’ll find that different search queries have more useful data than others. Start to fade out what isn’t yielding good data, and try new combinations. The more you do this, the more efficient the time spent listening becomes.
2. Solve People’s Problems
If you’re not familiar with the power of reciprocity, you’re missing a big opportunity in your business. The sole act of issuing someone a favor has been demonstrated to increase consumer purchasing behavior in greater excess relative to the value of the original favor. One common example of this tactic can be found at your local bar. When a man buys a woman a drink, what he’s asking for in return, is probably worth more than $7 (not to assign a monetary value….). From a businesses approach, the power of reciprocity can be an extremely powerful tactic. Anyone who’s taken a sample from their local Costco probably already knows this. In exchange for your 3 ounce taster, at the very least, you give the employee the opportunity to finish their spiel. More often than chance, you’ll end up purchasing the product. Although you’ve already purchased the annual membership, your subconscious sense of debt for this minuscule taster, makes their product display a profitable business move.
Here’s how you use Twitter to solve problems: There’s no one size-fits-all approach to this one. It will depend on your industry. Be creative. One idea: if you work in the restaurant industry, set up a search of all of the tweets going out within a 25km radius of your zipcode, and right around 10:30AM, offer them a 25% discount off of their lunch. If your business is location sensitive, insert your industry in place of “restaurant”. If your business is online, make the searches keyword focused, and offer a discount. Another, more general, approach is to answer people’s questions, regardless of how tangible it is to your business or not. Like when a friend picks you up from the airport, subconsciously, you know that you’re -1 in the favor department. When you get that call a week later, very politely asking to borrow your car, saying “no” seems impossible. When someone wants to know the best hotel to stay at, the best restaurant to eat at, the best business book to read, etc., you should be there to shed some valuable knowledge. The more helpful the favor, the more powerful the sense of reciprocity becomes. Try it.
3. Only share quality content
I don’t know when Twitter turned into a high school popularity contest, but there’s a difference between being popular (followers) and being profitable (customers). If done well, your popularity will come organically. What do I mean? Take a look at your Twitter stream on any given Friday, then tell me what you see. Most likely, it’s a #FF followed by every Twitter handle on that person’s list, spread out over a few tweets. Their thinking: purely by mentioning their name, I’ve exercised the Power of Reciprocity (see: #2), and they owe me a mention when I share a link to my latest deal! In moderation, the collaborative elevation method can be useful. But when deciding what information to share with those who trust and follow you, instead of determining it based on favors owed, look at quality of content. As soon as you share a tweet with a link that you don’t even take the time to read, which ends up being some 150 word post of watered down, poorly written content, you’ve done damage to your own brand. The next time you put something out there, your followers are far less likely to click through. Focus on your 1,000 true fans, and forget about achieving 10,000 phony followers.
Here’s how you use Twitter to share quality content: This is easy. Take the time to process through the content you decide to share. Does the article contribute something new? Is the content written well? Will your readers have something to gain? Don’t worry about the content not being your own work. The simple act of sharing it with your followers demonstrates that you have access to good information, and the trust will be spread to you vicariously. Taking the time to curate quality information, not only provides value to your customers, it helps to establish you as an industry expert, thus raising your brand equity in your consumers’ eyes. Don’t share content simply for the sake of gaining points or paying favors. You’re not doing any favors to yourself. And there you have it. Follow these three simple principles on Twitter along with some persistence, and patience, and you will be rocking Twitter without annoying people in the process. A novel approach.
Zach Davis is an independent Internet marketer and consultant with a specialty in social media marketing, creative content production, and branding. He has a BBA in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business and currently works and lives in San Diego, CA. You can find Zach’s personal website at theGoodBadger.com or follow him on Twitter @zrdavis.
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