Get used to it: Twitter is here and it’s here to stay. With the successful IPO now well behind us, Twitter has cemented itself as far more than a flash in the social media pan. This means Twitter is a viable communication channel for you to reach prospects in your funnel. So, without further ado, here is how to leverage Twitter as a bona fide sales tool. By the way, these rules (minus hashtags and at signs) all apply to LinkedIn as well.
1. Perfect Your Profile
a. Get a professional (and appropriate) picture
This means no selfies, wedding pics, and no baby pictures. Basically, nothing from your Facebook page. Keep in mind that the standard “egg” profile picture is also a kiss of death. The accounts with the “egg” are typically associated with two things: spam and kids with new accounts– you don’t want to come across as either. The goal is to establish credibility with those viewing your profile– and credibility will be broken if this singular element is missing.
b. Build an effective biography
Summarize what you do in 160 characters – and make it interesting. Are you a rock climber? A Jedi warrior in training? People like other people, not sales people. Have a personality that shines through in your short biography section. Be human and be interesting.
c. Take a stance
This also goes in your biography. Are you selling a solution? If so, is it on-premise or SaaS? Whichever one it is, sell your audience on why it’s the only option out there.
d. You are NOT a salesperson
From the moment you log into Twitter with a goal of moving a deal along, you need to take a consultative approach – not a sales approach. The last thing any one of your prospects wants is for a virtual cold call. Remove all mentions of a sales rep and replace them with the idea of an industry insider or advocate.
2. Assemble a community
Right off the bat, you’ll want to follow 5 equally important groups. These will be the keys to your social success.
As in companies in your space. These are not necessarily competitors, but rather, if you’re in the B2B software space, follow industry leaders in the high tech space, such as Apple, IBM, or Amazon. The types of people or accounts you follow are a direct representation of what your interests are.
Follow them and copy them (assuming they’re doing a good job). What a competitor is can range from the sales rep at the firm to the actual company itself. If you work at Walmart, follow the folks at Target. Why do they have a more robust Twitter following? Why do they get more responses? Is it timing? Is it content? Leverage their accounts to fine tune yours.
The reason you’re on Twitter is to convert these folks, so pay close attention to them. These accounts are the meat of your social media sandwich. Every single prospect – both at the corporate and individual level should be in your follow list. These are the folks you’ll be engaging with.
The companies (and people) that your company is already working with have the potential to be a goldmine. Establish and foster those relationships to leverage your contacts. Having a strong partner following shows you’re engaged in the industry.
Have you signed a client? If so, leverage that relationship publicly (assuming it’s possible). Referenceable customers equal more customers. Boast about this relationship as often as you can.
3. Tweet content that your community cares about
On Twitter, there are really only two things that people care about: is it funny or is it insightful. This might not seem accurate, however, the same basic rule applies across most social media networks. Posts that either make you chuckle or think are going to get both more traffic and more action (clicks, likes, retweets, etc.). With that in mind, be very careful what you post. If it doesn’t fit in one of these two categories, your post will likely be seen as spam. If you’re going to post an article, don’t just post the article, state (in well under 140 characters why this article matters to your audience). Hint: use industry buzzwords and terminology (#CRM, #ecommerce, #anythingrelevant). Hint 2: Check out ‘bit.ly’ – it’s an online tool that compresses URLs to make them fit (and look better) on Twitter.
Here are some examples of things you’re going to want to post:
a. Articles – “A great read on how @Target is utilizing site search to garner higher conversions #retailwars” (This post serves 2 purposes, I’m referencing a company in my space AND I am providing insight to my following).
b. Statistics – “Check out the latest data from @InstartLogic on how a optimized #CDN is impacting and improving site traffic” (This post mentions an industry related firm AND has valuable information).
c. Reviews - “Check out these stats on how @Salesforce is outperforming both @IBM and @Microsoft in the #CRM space” (Assuming I work for Salesforce, this is a great post that calls attention to who’s winning the CRM war, showcasing why Salesforce is superior, add to that an interesting statistic or two and you’ve got a great post).
d. Food for Thought – Not necessarily related to your industry, but articles and posts that get people thinking. Basically everything Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) posts on LinkedIn or Twitter is gold.
4. Engage your community
Now that you’ve followed who you need to follow and are posting relevant material, you’re going to want to:
a. Reply – engage with relevant posts that you come across. See a post on how to maximize revenue by using Google Analytics? Post your opinion on that tweet.
b. Respond – get back to anyone who reaches out to you. Assuming it’s not spam, a quick reply to what people are saying to you is a nice way of acknowledging your community.
c. Retweet – is the post worthy of more people seeing? Retweet it!
5. Avoid the “S’s of Evil”
a. Stalk prospects (or people in general) - It’s creepy and it’s guaranteed to scare people away. A post everyday berating someone to respond or make a decision is a bad idea. Think of a post on a prospect’s wall as a strategic sales touch. You wouldn’t cold call a prospect twice a day and leave a message each time. Don’t do it on Twitter either.
b. Spam your community – It’s often automatic, and it’s very obviously marketing and advertising spam. Don’t sign up for any automated services that push content. Messages that are automated are never personalized and they’re always junked. People are wary of opening up messages or clicking links to begin with. Don’t give them ANOTHER reason to avoid your content.
c. Smack-talk prospects – Heard of Amy’s Baking Company? This was a restaurant featured on Chef Gordon Ramsey’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares” – they also famously took the cake (get it) for having possibly one of the worst PR meltdowns in recent memory. After being featured on the show, the owners were slammed on every available channel on social media. Instead of doing the usual issuing of a press release, the owners decided to respond, negatively, to every review and post about them. Bad idea. They lost out on a ton of business and ended up with worse than a black eye in the way of reputation.
d. “Smurf” – This is usually called trolling, but ‘troll” doesn’t start with ‘s’, and a Smurf is kind of like a troll. Regardless, don’t do it. A troll is is a person who annoys people by starting arguments or upsetting them. It’s unprofessional and annoying – avoid it.