I am an early adopter. I believe in testing new models, trying and working with new platforms. I like the challenge it provides my aging brain. And I believe that knowing through experience is something that I can provide my clients.
As you can see from my previous question, I am only slowly growing in my appreciation of the potential of Twitter to provide meaningful engagement with your customers, distributors, and vendors.
I do believe in the word engagement. To me it means providing meaningful bi-direction communication opportunities. (for the purpose of this question anyway -- and not that guy who was selling engagement rings. Something different!)
More importantly I believe in the concept of engagement as a meaningful goal in business development. I believe that a company that provides authentic engagement will grow in value. The brand will grow, the quality of the customer experience will grow, the life-time value of the customer to the business will grow.
The question is not if Twitter can do that in and of itself -- but rather what role the twitter platform can play in an overall business development strategy which includes twitter.
I believe that it can.
(Now I admit I still will refer to individuals who spend more than 1 hour on twitter each day a Twit.)
How? these are the ones that are currently working with my clients:
- For existing customers if can be a way to provide updates, opportunities, timely notices.
- For potential customers it can be a draw to the more significant information on a receiving squeeze page.
- Send out a link to the subject of your new blog post on your site.
So, the core of your question has to do with how to collect a "community" of followers who are qualified to be prospective "customers" or referral agents. Isn't this similar to the process that any of us go through on the lead management of our respective management of sales and customer relations? We have to cull through thousands of leads to find the few that we can qualify. We develop ways to make that process more effecient. We pay people for culled lists which have been polished and cleaned. We pay even more for lists that have people who have opt-ed in to receive communications from the likes of us.
The process on Twitter does not seem to be significantly different. The blind process of following and responding to followers like picking business cards out of the "free lunch" fishbowl on the counter of the bagel shop. And just as effective.
If you want a group of followers that is meaningfully connected then I would follow the following tips:
- Start from the inside out. Start with vendors and friends. Then add by adding value to your current customers.
- Never Post for the purpose of posting: Develop a set of tags -- or post types -- that add value to your customer. make sure you are posting conscious of those catagories. I would strongly reccomend not having one called "other" if the post doesn't fit your categories-- then it probably wont add value to your followers.
- Track the Links: Be sure that you include links that integrate with your overall source tracking as part of your CRM.
Our team is still learning how to use twitter in our B2B market-- but this is what we have learned so far.
More importantly than almost any of this -- is that if I read the profile of the person who asks this question properly -- then I know that they are launching a product into the social media space. In order to authentically position themselves as having value or expertise in that space, i think they need to be experienced using the common platforms in that market -- and that despite any of us "older folks" misgivings -- that includes Twitter.