Many small businesses do find prospects on Twitter. But it takes time, and it may or may not be the right venue for you.
The first tweet sent via Twitter was actually a message automatically dispatched by the system when a user first set up an account. It came from one of the company’s founders (and soon to be interim CEO), Jack Dorsey, at 3:50 p.m. on March 21, 2006. It simply read, “just setting up my twttr” (the name hadn’t yet morphed into “Twitter”).
Hundreds of millions of users later, tweets themselves have gotten longer and more inspiring in some cases, like one of Dorsey’s most recent posts that contained a quote from Brain Pickings (“The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity, but in being uninteresting”). In the same week, Dorsey retweeted posts from The Economist, President Obama, Taylor Swift, BuzzFeed, and Disney.
He tweeted his own editorial comments on topics like the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, newborn pandas, processed foods, and the Confederate flag controversy. Only one mention of Square – Dorsey is founder and CEO of the mobile payments company – in four days.
Dorsey doesn’t exactly have to chase leads on Twitter, and his particular mix of content (especially the political positions) wouldn’t necessarily work for a startup that didn’t have his name recognition. But his Twitter feed is:
- Active (several posts every day, not an overwhelming amount),
- Eclectic (covers topics ranging from sports to music to civic awareness to philosophy to breaking news),
- Revealing (tells us something about who he is),
- Educational and informative (retweets numerous sources, bringing other ideas to light), and,
- Thought-provoking (worthy of being retweeted and marked as a favorite). Dorsey makes you want to follow him.
And that’s tip #1. If you want to capture leads on Twitter, you have to do more than post product information and recommendations from customers. Certainly, you want to do some promotion on your feed (more than Dorsey does), but Twitter gives you the opportunity to present more than a one-dimensional view of your company.
Tip #2: Try to answer your audience’s questions before they’re presented to you. Do you sell cars? Create a short video or written document that helps parents buy a used car for college-bound offspring. Write your tweet in the form of a query, and link back to a dedicated page on your website that contains the content. In exchange for their contact information, let them view your how-to, and throw in a small discount or inexpensive promotional item if they stop in to see you.
Tip #3: Related to the previous tip, try to establish yourself as a go-to resource in your area of expertise. Give away your knowledge, gratis. People come to Twitter for all kinds of reasons. One is to get problems solved by learning about the possibilities.
Tip #4: Take an hour or two and learn Twitter’s conventions so you can find and interact with prospects. The site has a very comprehensive, easy-to-understand help section. You could start here.
Tip #5: Save time and target your tweets by using the site’s List feature. You could create lists for prospects in various stages of your sales pipeline, or for leads that share interest in the same product line, for example.
The handful of individuals who created Twitter probably didn’t imagine at the start how many ways people would use their new invention. If you find that it’s a good home for some of your sales prospecting, make good use of all of its tools – but make it your own.