Should business owners of professional service firms be using Twitter for business development purposes?

The answer is a qualified Yes and the reason for this is that the use of twitter must fit in with some clearly understand reasons for exactly why you are using it.

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows anyone to say anything to anybody in 140 characters or less.

What use is that?

Well, twitter is now being used by many of the largest hard nosed commercial firms to achieve clearly defined business objectives, the world over, make no bones about it, you should too because it works just as well in the local/regional context.

So how do you get started with twitter?

If you haven’t got an account then sign up for one. It’s free at: http://Twitter.com/account/create

When you have an account you’ll be given a home page and a profile page.

Get yourself an avatar of 100 x 100 pixel image, to use on your profile; this will be useful for many other social media sites, so save a copy.

Why use Twitter?

Many professionals scorn the idea of using such a seemingly limited tool used by millions to tell seemingly mindless others about what they had for dinner!

But stop.

Maybe there are certain business development objectives that Twitter might be able to help you fulfil. If it does then this might be a useful starting point from which much else might flow.

Could Twitter be a valuable tool for the direct promotion of your business? No. Hardly at all.

But you might be able to use it in a number of other hugely valuable areas.

It can be very useful:

  1. if you want to network with others in your sector or in a specific geographic area? Or
  2. to get up to date access to what’s being said about your firm, your people or your services?
  3. or nothing at all, who said there’s only one thing worse than being talked about behind your back and that’s not being talked about at all!
  4. you can use it to auto-publish links to your new articles, new blog posts, new videos, and pod casts.
  5. you can use it to gain ideas, content, links, resources, and tips focused on area where you need to know more or where you want to keep up to speed by hearing from sector leaders?
  6. you can use it monitor what’s being said about clients and their services? And,
  7. you can use it to extend the reach of your thought leadership, blog posts, videos and other content?

If there is just one example from this list then it makes good sense to get in there and start using twitter.

Developers are by the day creating evermore apps that allow users to use twitter in evermore functional and creative ways; this is a marketing resource that looks for the minute as if its just going to get better and better.

Twitter can be used to subscribe, share, friend, or follow as many Twitter feeds as you like. In addition, Twitter have a really useful tool that you absolutely must place on your website, it’s the tweet button. This allows you to enable people who find something interesting on your site to immediately tweet it with the click of a button

One of the big questions you must ask of yourselves is How do we decide who to follow?

And how do we get those we want to be talking to follow us?

Using Twitter to best effect is therefore a double edged issue.

Following someone means that their tweets show up on your home page and vice-versa.

Many make really hard work of twitter and as a result they become inundated as they build a huge list of persons they are following and who follow them, don’t do this from the outset unless you have a clearly defined reason for doing so.

This said I have used it to good effect two twitter based services to do research and help locate people that are of direct interest or value to us as a firm.

The first of these is Twellow – a twitter directory that sorts people by industry and tells you a little about each person, including how many followers they have.

Twellow provides a link to each person’s profile on twitter so you can click on the link and then go to a Twitter page to register to follow the person and then revert back to Twellow to keep on looking for more people you want to follow.

The second is Tweepsearch – it too focuses on searching through twitter bios and profiles to help locate people you want to follow.

Twitter themselves in July 30 2010 announced another service that you should take a look at. Its called “Suggestions for You”. this suggest people you don’t currently follow that you may find interesting. The suggestions are based on several factors, including people you follow and the people they follow.

As ever beware of becoming inundated by following too many!

So what to do to get started?

At the beginning the main purpose in using twitter should be to focus on just one or two objectives and not to get bogged down in a mass of content that is not relevant to your purpose

A good way to start things going is to try to get feedback having secured a small group of persons who are following you by asking questions which can stimulate a conversation;

You might ask about issues folk would like to hear covered in your blog; or in a video or maybe you’re thinking of holding an event, or speaking at a conference or a luncheon and are looking for ideas for presentation content; twitter can be great for such things

It’s a good idea to do some filtering to track what’s being said about any search term you like:

By doing so you could for example can see about what is being said about you personally, your company or services your competition or any other matters you have an interest in.

Using Twitter search you can focus on keywords such as your company name or a product or service and twitter will provide you with tweets on these subjects as they happen in real time.

This enables you to respond [should you wish to] immediately;

With Twitter search you can create RSS feeds from your searches so you can have them sent directly to your RSS reader; but again focus on priorities; keep it manageable

If you are to make the most of twitter you have to get to grips with mining it for the information and contacts you’re really interested in because if you don’t and you just let things run and run you’ll soon be swamped, you’ll be getting nothing out of it of value as you’ll be disregarding the vast amounts of tweets that will be coming in!

If you are to mine twitter then you should use their advanced search facility.

This superb as it: really helps you to drill down to generate searches relating to exactly what you want to hear about at the level of your town or city, niche, people, company or service. And it helps to identify really hot leads really easily

People are asking questions all the time and love to hear from someone who can provide an answer locally.

Work at it and you can set up a series of tweets that might turn up leads; that’s to say people with needs you can satisfy; but take care not to spam; do this by opening up a conversation with folk and answering their questions appropriately;

Remember as with all social media sites they’re all about build rapport and relationships. This builds trust, trying to sell using the social media kills it and risks you getting banned

So how do you Control your Twitter account activity? Having got going you simply must take control of your twitter activity.

One piece of free software that might help is TweetDeck, which has many other functions you may wish to take advantage of. It can be used as your personal real-time browser, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites you use.

This software runs on your desktop. You can post tweets from it, respond to replies from others and, set up searches as well as get updates in real time when someone tweets on a subject or phrase you are researching or wish to keep tabs on;

There is another really useful tool in Twitter called a hash tag. When you use a # tag it, it acts as way to create categories, groups, or topics for tweets that others can use as well as you at the same time. Using this tool tweets can be grouped together when using the search.Twitter.com feature.

Anyone can create a hash tag by simply using a # in front of a phrase, This can prove really useful in a number of ways:

  1. Let’s say you’re attending a conference and tweeting notes in real time. If everyone at that workshop were asked to add something like #cf123 to their tweets, everyone present] can view the notes and share in the insights, all at one place on twitter.
  2. You can also promote your events or service launches using the #tag;
  3. You could use hash tags as a way for remote employees to use Twitter as a communication tool for all the stuff you want people to stay on top of, and
  4. You can use a hash tag for any live webinars you run and afterwards tweet attendees to ask questions via Twitter.

Posted under Twitter

 

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