10 Ways To Introduce Yourself to a Prospect On Twitter
It can be awkward to introduce yourself and your company to a prospective customer who does not know you or follow you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
Building a large network of prospective customers on Twitter is one of the least expensive ways to market your company, your products and services over time. But to do this right, you need to learn how to start the conversation in the first place. If you do this wrong, it can feel like an online equivalent of cold-calling. If you do it right, it feels like you are genuinely helping someone – because you are!
Perhaps the largest challenge when using Twitter to meet new customers is that there is a lot of room for misunderstanding in a single 140-character message. So a dollup of best practices (learned the hard way) can go a long way.
It helps to think about social prospecting as merely an online version of the same method that millions of business professionals have used to grow their businesses during the past few centuries: by finding people expressing needs they can meet, then meeting them (not spamming). Social networking platforms – especially public ones like Twitter – just make this old-school task a lot more efficient.
After spending the past year helping leading brands find and introduce themselves to potential customers on Twitter, we thought we’d share a few of the best and worst practices we’ve seen (so far).
For more articles like this, check out our new Flipboard magazine, “Social Selling”
10 Low-Risk Ways to Introduce Yourself
There are at least 10 acceptable ways to introduce yourself to a person who might be good prospect, but who does not follow you on Twitter. A lot of these are things you would do with potential customers offline – but adapted for a fast-paced digital environment. I’m sure there are many more – feel free to share your experience in the comments below, so others can benefit.
NOTE: this list is also available on List.ly (feel free to embed it in your own blog or website)
Some of the methods we’ve seen that work well include the following:
- Ask for her opinion/input. People appreciate (& sometimes love) to be asked for their opinion and input, especially if the request comes from an expert in a topic that they discuss regularly. Examples of questions that solicit an honest conversation include: “Which one would you chooose – A or B?”, “Where could I learn more?”, “What do you think about X?” or “Where did you find that?”.
- Share a link to helpful content or information. If you or your company possess online content that might help this person, then by all means share it. This is one of the best uses of Twitter. If your assistance is in the form of a white paper, video or presentation, you can capture a warm lead (email address, name, company, etc.) by forwarding them to a sign-and-download landing page. If you require them to fill out a signup form to get their answer, then tell them upfront (“short signup req’d”).
- Offer your assistance or help. If you don’t have a link to share, but you can offer a quick answer or piece of advice that can help someone out, then send it on. You might be surprised at how grateful people can be on Twitter!
- Follow him. Following someone is the simplest, lowest-risk way to connect with a prospect on Twitter. It’s the online equivalent of sharing your business card with someone.
- Retweet her. This is another low-risk way to engage with a person on Twitter. At the very least, re-tweeting expresses you share a common interest. Most of the time she will notice your interest, and sometimes she will thank you. There are no technical limits on the number of people you can retweet each day. However, if you have a large number of active and engaged followers, then you should limit your retweeting activity to to 20%-30% of your daily posts, or people may start unfollowing you due to your lack of original content.
- Forward his post on to someone who can help. If you know someone else on Twitter who might be able to answer a question or deal with an issue, then by all means forward their message on to that person with a quick “(hope this helps)”.
- Agree with him. Look for statements that you honestly agree with, then give the author a “high five” by declaring your support for their position. People love to hear others say, “Exactly!”, “That’s what I thought!” and “You nailed it!”. But don’t fake it, because you might be asked, “Really? exactly what did you like?”.
- Correct a factual error. If you see someone post an inaccurate statement or a misconception about your company, don’t argue! But feel free to correct the inaccuracy with facts (preferably in the form of a third-party link). Most people respect a company that listens to and respond to people who talk about their brand. But never argue in public, it’s always a bad idea.
- Compliment or mention her content, company, product or service. This is another no-brainer. People love an honest compliment. Just make sure you are talking about something that you actually liked, or your compliment could backfire.
- Address him/her correctly (using @name). A lot of people don’t understand how to use @name addresses correctly on Twitter. Starting your outreach tweet with your prospect’s @name tells Twitter that only your prospect and your followers should see your tweet. However, if you address your prospect using@name placed anywhere else in your tweet, then ALL of your prospect’s followers will see your targeted message, too. This simple mistake can lead to an embarrassing situation – especially if you are trying to help them resolve a “sensitive” issue.
5 Ways to Make a Bad First Impression
Whatever you do, avoid the following mistakes. Social feaux pas like these will cause you to lose followers (out of disgust). Some might even get your Twitter account suspended.
- Send an unsolicited commercial offer. There are some exceptions to this (like offering a coupon to a hungry restaurant seeker), but for the most part people don’t like unsolicited offers interrupting their conversations.
- Brag excessively about your product/service/company. Does this really need explaining? Focus the vast majority of your personal social time on finding problems and on sharing solutions – not on explicit marketing and advertising. That said, it’s totally fine (and smart) to post 1 or 2 messages a day from your account informing people of a new product, blog post or even a special deal.
- Criticize a competitor. Unlike politics, in business attacking your competition won’t get you anywhere – especially in a court of public opinion like Twitter. In fact, you might want to consider complimenting your competitors when they deserve it (just released a new cool feature/product, did something important for a customer, shared a valuable insight, etc.) – this is something we like to do from our @needtagger corporate account. We think it’s important that our customers know about the state of the art in social customer prospecting – even if we aren’t the ones leading the charge on that particular day.
- Send him a link to a generic lead generation page, a pay wall or signup page… and describe it as “the help you’re looking for”. This really doesn’t work, and it leaves a bad impression. If you are going to send someone to content that will help them, then when they land on that link they should see the content (or at least a useful portion of it). If you are going to send them to a form, then tell them this upfront (“short signup req’d”). It’s all about being honest and respecting the other person’s time.
- Automate your introduction. We all use automation to some degree, but automation doesn’t work when you are meeting a person for the first time. If you care about making a good first impression, then tailor your first message for that person, for that time of the day, using extra sensitivity to their unique situation, location and language.
NeedTagger helps you find prospective customers that may need your help and makes it easy to introduce yourself to them.
You, too, can leverage Twitter and other social networks to build a low-cost network of prospective customers – as long as you know how to make a good first impression. We hope the lists above will help you achieve that.
We are interested in your experiences – leave your comment below!