If your customers, prospects, or competitors are spending time on Twitter, you need to be there as well. These 12 tips will help you establish a successful Twitter presence, or make your current presence there more effective for B2B social media marketing.
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1. Listen before you tweet
Here’s your opportunity to demonstrate that you care about your customers’ and prospects’ concerns. Using Twitter dashboards, listen — not just for mentions of your own name, but for mentions of your competitors, your customers, and your industry, particularly industry news and events.
2. Make a great first impression
Have a professional from your design department prepare the photo or image used for your B2B Twitter account. What looked great in your casual snapshot may be barely recognizable when viewed as a tiny image on a Twitter stream — a designer will help you avoid that error. Never post a picture of yourself with a cocktail in your hand (unless you are in the food and beverage industry) or photo of you frolicking in a skimpy swimsuit on a tropical beach (unless your company sells beachwear or suntan lotion). The idea is to convey the same image you’d project at a sales meeting. Note that a number of companies have begun using as their Twitter photos a version of their corporate logos or a picture of their product.
3. Put a communications professional in charge
Social media technology is easy to master, but effective business communication requires common sense and experience. Don’t be tempted to hand your Twitter stream (and your company’s reputation) over to a summer intern just because she can type with two thumbs on her smartphone. Select as your Twitter spokesperson someone you would be perfectly comfortable with talking to the press during an public relations emergency — the press, after all, will be scrutinizing your tweets when there is an emergency.
4. Follow the right companies and people
Follow companies and people who add value to the conversation. Ruthlessly unfollow and then block accounts that “talk trash.” Nothing will drag down your reputation and get you “unfollowed” faster than having someone with a name like “SleazySuzy” retweeting your observations or clogging your Twitter stream with junk. It’s not the number of people who follow you but the quality of the conversation that counts.
5. Join the conversation
Once you’re following customers, prospects, and industry opinion leaders, post tweets that add information or a new perspective to their existing conversations. Jumping in out of the blue with off-topic comments about your own product or company is a recipe for getting ignored.
6. Establish your company as an authority
Find some aspect of your customers’ work and become an authority on it. Find out their biggest challenges and frustrations, and tweet tips that can help them address those.
7. Focus your voice
If your company is large, or has clearly segmented markets, consider setting up Twitter accounts for each market. To see how this works, take look at what Microsoft and Wells Fargo are doing on Twitter. If you have a communications or marketing executive who is a well-known spokesman for your company, consider creating a Twitter identity for her or for him. On Twitter, people pay more attention to a person than a company.
8. Commit to being part of the conversation
You get out of Twitter what you put into it. No investment, no return. If you’re part of a lively debate or conversation on Twitter, you can’t drift off for two days and expect anyone to wait for you to get back. At the very least, make sure that a customer visiting your company Twitter page doesn’t see that your last tweet was two months ago.
9. Be prepared to market and sell when those opportunities arise.
Once you understand the culture of Twitter, and the sub-culture of your industry on Twitter, you’ll be able to spot genuine opportunities to help people solve problems using your product or service. In such instances, don’t be afraid to message the person directly and ask if you can help. If they’ve already met you through previous Twitter conversations, they’re more likely to take you up on your offer.
10. Learn how, and when, to start a conversation
It’s a common practice on Twitter to start a conversation by asking a provocative question. It’s even more effective if you ask that question to people you know are likely to give an interesting answer that gets the ball rolling. Of course, they’ll be more likely to try to answer your questions if you’ve already established a reputation for doing the same for them.
11. Learn how to use hashtags (#)
Use existing hashtags, or create new ones, to make it easy for people to follow and contribute to conversations or news about events. Here’s the official guide to using hashtags.
12. Integrate your tweets with your other B2B social media activities
WordPress can be set to notify Twitter about your latest blog post. Similarly, you can have your tweets appear on your company’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages. The idea is to make the most of your investment in social media by configuring accounts to make it convenient for prospects and customers to get to know you and your products.