Use Twitter to Nudge Prospects

Still, it’s important that you have a presence there, whether it’s aimed at supporting customer service, reinforcing your brand or soliciting feedback on your company’s offerings. Those goals translate fairly easily into concrete Twitter posts and responses.

But using Twitter to find and interact with potential customers is trickier. You have to be part private detective, part cheerleader (of others) and part thought leader/expert-in-your-field/fount of knowledge. By subtly becoming a small but noticeable part of your prospects’ networks, you can build your own following of people and companies who identify you as a trusted voice amidst all the chatter.

Attract By Being Attractive

Before you start interacting with people, make sure that your Twitter handle is professional, descriptive and memorable. Don’t try to be coy or clever: Make it a strong identifier of your brand, to ensure that you’re easy to find. Same goes for your profile photo, or avatar. Would you buy from that smiling face in the picture?

It probably goes without saying, but your first move should be to follow the right people and companies of interest. It’s flattering to be followed. Don’t follow everyone, as your feed will become unwieldy and you may miss seeing tweets from your diamonds in the rough. Try to maintain a reasonable ratio of followers to those being followed.

Need help finding promising relationships? Click on #Discover on Twitter. Check out Follower Wonk and Twitter Grader to find additional prominent Tweeters. You can also utilise Nimble for this, the Social tab is great for finding people, seeing their Klout scores, find out who they follow and who follows them. Explore your contacts’ networks – something drew them all together, find out what.

Engage, Engage, Engage

Of course, you’ll have been tweeting all along. Every day, at various times. Most people have lengthy Twitter streams, and they likely don’t read to the end. Try to catch people in different time zones who have varied schedules.

Tell people what you’re reading or watching. Retweet relevant tweets. Talk about an event you’re going to attend. Yes, one of your reasons for participating in Twitter is to find sales leads, but the salesperson of 2012 must be a social creature. Prospects have already researched your business, so tell them who you are – what interests you, what your passions are, what restaurants you recommend, etc.

Let Your Strengths Shine

One of the things that defines you, though, is your expertise in the industry that your products serve. Are you a heating and air conditioning maintenance specialist? Post reminders about preventive maintenance in the spring and fall. Discuss the benefits (and drawbacks) of solar. Tell people about upkeep tasks they can take on themselves, and link to a how-to article on your blog.

There are many other ways to quietly develop a Twitter relationship with prospects. Here are some:

• Frequent chats and feeds where people ask questions and post problems. Be the friendly voice that just provides a solution without trying to sell – yet.

• If your business draws heavily on the local community, promote interesting events, venues and people. Display your pride in your region, and people will resonate with that.

Read and respond. Post congratulatory messages to people who’ve tweeted about an accomplishment. Agree with someone in a tweet (when you actually do).

Solicit opinions. Ask for input on a particular dilemma, or float a new product or service idea.

Connect needs and resources. Can’t help a particular individual but know someone who can? Put them in touch with each other.

Tweet about a free, helpful resource your business offers to nudge them to your website.

“Nudge” is the operative word. This element of your Twitter activity can establish you – and by extension, your company – as a trusted, altruistic source of information and assistance. It can also be one of the more enjoyable parts of your workday.