Welcome to our Twitter Primer for B2B Users. You can read the introduction here and our glossary feature may come in useful if you want a quick definition of a term (just hover your cursor over terms like this).
You may have heard of the expression a Micro-Blogging-Service used to describe Twitter and that’s because each Tweet, each message you send out, is limited to 140 characters. But most newcomers to Twitter are baffled by what it is and why people are using it at all.
So lets start with this great introduction to what Twitter is.
You’re almost ready to begin using Twitter. If you don’t already have an online username complete with your picture or avatar, create one first. If you can, use the same username and avatar for all your social media activities to enable people to recognize you no matter which site you visit.
Now you can go ahead and open an account at www.twitter.com.
Armed with your Twitter Username, you can now promote your Twitter existence to the world:
- Add your twitter username to your email signature (Follow us on Twitter: @gossamar, for example). Don’t forget to add this element to the emails sent out by your demand generation or email handler.
- Make sure your website both displays your twitter username in a prominent position (near the other bookmarks is a good place), and that your tweets appear on the site each time you send one out. The Twitter site will show you how to do this, although you will need to add some html code to your site to make it work.
- Set a budget in terms of time (and if necessary, dollars) for the Twitter Campaign. You will want to allocate enough time to the project to allow someone to do all of the 6 steps outlined below, every day. If this poses a problem now, we’ll cover more of how to justify the time when we deal with metrics in the 3rd post in the series.
So now you have a Twitter account, your personal profile and avatar are set up on it, you know how to use Twitter to follow people, get them to follow you, tweet and retweet and direct message them. Now you’re ready to begin!
B2B companies can use Twitter to:
- Listen to clients, prospects, co-workers, competitors, partners, or anyone else within your sphere of influence. We’ll call this your Twitter Community.
- Advertise the existence of your content to your followers. This is why it’s important to build a following.
- Ask questions of your Community.
- Find new people to add to your Community, (the more followers you have, the more exposure your tweets get).
- Forge closer ties to your existing network.
- Create links by embedding urls to your content within tweets.
Lets look at each one in more detail.
Listening with Twitter
Think about the last time you attended an industry event – one of those where the goal is to “network” the room. You didn’t enter the hall and start shouting out your sales pitch to the assembled people, did you? No, you probably did something like this:
You approached a circle of people who were chatting about something, stood up close between two of them and waited till they acknowledged your presence by separating to open a space, thereby admitting you into the ring. Then you listened to the conversation to get a feel for what was being said, who was saying what, and what you might say in return. And when you felt that you now knew how this specific conversation was going, and thought you had something relevant to add, you joined in and said something. And then you stepped back figuratively and gauged the reaction to your remark. If it missed and you got blank stares or some pushback, you adjusted your next statement accordingly. And if you got a serious negative response, you could withdraw and regroup.
So do precisely the same thing when you start using Twitter. Find some tweeters to follow and for a short time, just follow their tweets. Listen and learn and when you think you understand what’s going on, join in, but do start off with the least important circles of influence and work your way up to the most.
And listening can be a powerful form of market research, too, especially if you monitor your competitor’s tweets and their support forums.
Pimp your Content
When you write a post, release a new webinar, white paper or video, tweet it to the world. The bigger your following, the more people will read the initial tweet and click on the embedded link to visit your site. And if the article was worth their time, they may well retweet the url to their followers and so drive even more traffic to your site. Twitter used correctly is like a jungle drum to your target market, so get out there and beat it.
How? By writing a suitable headline and body copy for each tweet. If you’re wondering how you squeeze the url and all this into 140 characters, the answer is you use a url compression service to shorten the url down to a handful of characters, regardless of how long the actual url is. I use a service called Bit.Ly. URL Compression sites like these maintain a database of shortened links along with the expanded or full link they point to. So when a person clicks on the link in the tweet, he or she first goes to the url-shortening service’s site, and then is redirected towards the expanded link.
There are many such services; Bit.ly is good because it provides two advantages:
- It uses a 301 redirect to send traffic to the right place when they click on your tweet’s link. Many of these services don’t use 301s and by not doing so, all the links in all the tweets essentially point to the service’s own site and not the one being pointed to. A 301, on the other hand, passes the linkjuice along the line and it ends up on your site, as it should.
- The service collects stats on how many times people click on a link, along with details of where it was mentioned and by whom. This helps to develop an understanding of your community. You will be able to see precisely who read your tweet, who retweeted it, who mentioned it, etc.
Want to ask someone a question quickly and in a fun and public (or private) way? Twitter is one way to accomplish the goal. Simply tweet the question, use a “# tag” to help people identify tweets which answer this question, and bingo – your question is sent to all of your followers, and if they like it enough, to all theirs, too. And if you want to keep the conversation private, you can direct message the person and only he or she will see it and respond to it.
The kinds of questions you can ask are limited only by your imagination – not necessarily the 140 char limit. If you think people’s answers will be longer than this limit, you can direct them to a blog-post or forum discussion where you can survey customers, or provide an FAQ section to enhance customer support and reduce wait times.
Add New People to Your Community
Use Google Alerts to notify you when your company name, product or service is mentioned anywhere on the web. When you get an alert, read or watch the relevant item and then comment on the blog-post or discussion topic if you can. If the blog doesn’t allow comments, or there’s no discussion on site, try…
- sending a direct message or retweet as a compliment or constructive criticism.
- writing your own response in the form of a blog or launch a discussion and then tweet about it.
You can also use “Live Search” to search Twitter’s database of all tweets ever sent. If you search for your site’s keyword phrases, you will find what people are saying about them on twitter.
Strengthen Your Ties to your Community
Every time you tweet your community with a selfless tweet – a tweet which doesn’t promote your company or its products, a tweet which provides useful or entertaining information – the community smiles upon you. The more smiles you earn, the more favorably your tweets will be looked upon, the more followers you will attract, and then, when you do send out a promotional tweet, the larger your audience of followers will be to read it, and – hopefully – act upon it.
The more value you add to your tweets for your audience, the more the audience will enjoy them and tell others about you and keep coming back for more.
And if your boss looks at some of your tweets and tells you you’re having way too much fun being entertaining, tell him that’s the way social media works. The more social you are, the more people relate to you. Obviously there’s a fine line between being too social and not doing enough work, and to help you find it we’ll delve into the measures of success in our 3rd post. The best answer for your boss, after all, is to show him the progress you’re making towards your Key Performance Indicators.
A Great Linking Strategy Tool
Given the discussion above on Bit.ly, all one needs to remember here is that every tweet with a url to some content on your site embedded in it, is regarded by the Search Engines as an external link to your site. And with the new stress Google places on relevancy and freshness, tweets are a great source of linkjuice.
This post and its associated linked articles should get you up and running quickly with Twitter. Our next post will give you the tools and techniques you can use as part one of our Process Description on how to run Twitter campaigns for B2B purposes. The third and last post completes the Process Description by looking at the metrics used to monitor your Twitter campaigns.
Bit-by-Bit #24 from Eric