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Net Gains: The Art of the Tweet: Capturing Leads and Sales in 140 Characters or Less

9 Apr, 2010 By: James Palmer Response

Twitter, the popular social networking site where users post 140-character missives about what they are doing at a given moment, sees more than 50 million “tweets” — or user posts — per day. It is no wonder then that both large and small businesses are catching on, and using Twitter to spread the word about their videos, blog posts, teleseminars and other offerings.

But what makes for an effective tweet, as they are called in the Twittersphere? What offers delivered via Twitter make people want to do business or turn away in annoyance? To find out, I asked various business owners, consultants, and diehard Twitterers how they market to their customers on Twitter, what tweets from others they respond best to, and what they hate in a tweet.

According to Pamela Reitmeier, owner of PQR Designs+, you don’t market using Twitter. “Tweet to gain relationships,” she says. “Then if it leads to business, you are doing it right. Don’t try to sell in 140 characters.”

Art Aiello, creative director at VyMaC Corp., agrees, and suggests striking a balance between promotion and information. “I hate shameless self promotion,” he says. “I would discourage tweets like ‘This weekend only — 40% off all shoes at Shoe Carnival’ with a link to their site.”

Aiello recommends presenting some provocative fact or asking a question, followed by a link to a blog post or white paper. “That gives folks some information they can use and positions you as an expert,” he says.

Avalee Harlton, Web communications coordinator at York University, goes even further. “I find it’s really important to not just pass on information about your own brand,” she says. Harlton reposts or ‘retweets’ items of interest to followers, as well as tweets about the university’s own news and events.

“Asking engaging questions when relevant and keeping the tone conversational is also important,” she says. “Most importantly, it’s about making sure that people feel listened to, not just talked at.”

Adds social networking expert Jillian Koeneman, “When you are working with Twitter, you need to take your marketing hat off and stop thinking about Twitter as just another platform for your sales messages. Provide valuable content, helpful answers, and connect with other Twitterers on a real, transparent level and the sales, click-throughs, and Web traffic will naturally follow.”

Let’s codify these tips into a cohesive Twitter marketing game plan.

  • Talk with your prospective customers, not at them. Twitter is a conversation, not a soapbox. Companies who do nothing but blast out advertisements for their latest offerings will be ignored.
  • Become an expert. Twitter is perfect for establishing your expertise. Posting links to videos, blog posts and white papers that solve your followers’ problems will go a long way toward cementing lasting customer relationships with them.
  • Give them what they want. Always be on the lookout for news items and other info that you can tweet, or retweet, to your followers — even if it’s from a third party.
  • Interact with your followers. Don’t just post tweets. Ask questions, reply to your followers’ tweets, and send them messages. You’ll not only build stronger relationships, you’ll learn more about your customers so you can sell them exactly what they are looking for. It’s invaluable market research you’re getting for free.

As you can see, there’s more to marketing effectively using Twitter than keeping your posts to 140 characters. By having conversations, interacting with your followers, and giving them what they want, you’ll go a long way toward building your brand and making money using this social media platform.

About the Author: James Palmer

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