Many sales professionals remain confused about Twitter. They see all of the news, celebrities, media and chaos – causing them to wonder:  why on Earth would I waste my time following these people… just to read about what they ate for dinner?

But many Twitter-savvy business owners and sales pros are quickly learning that Twitter can be a great way to meet new customers.

There’s plenty of evidence this is true.  For example, Zappos claims that Twitter generates more revenue than all other social networks combined.

For more articles like this, check out our new Flipboard magazine, "Social Selling" For more articles like this, check out our new Flipboard magazine, “Social Selling”


Meet Customers On Twitter?

Twitter is a great platform for growing your business because it’s where more and more of your prospective customers go every day to talk about their issues, problems and concerns – in a public forum. To understand why, ask yourself this question:

if your best customer prospects began meeting every day in a public hall on the other side of town to discuss issues that your company addresses, would you try to join them?

Of course you would!  What a great way to meet potential customers, engage in meaningful conversations, build relationships, solve problems for them and maybe even share the finer points about why your products and services are a great fit.  In other words, if you could gather your best prospects together in a room, you just might sell more efficiently. 

This is what Twitter is: a gigantic public hall where millions of people who share common interests connect with each other, ask questions and share information. 

Better Than Facebook

If you thought social media marketing was all about Facebook, think again. Facebook doesn’t work like Twitter – it is fundamentally a giant set of private social networks of people who already know each other (friends and family).  Because of it’s personal nature, Facebook imposes two big constraints on customer prospecting:

  1. most Facebook posts are “private” and cannot be found using a search tool like NeedTagger. Because of this, in the public (searchable) domain, the number of Twitter posts far exceeds the number of Facebook posts.
  2. most conversations on Facebook are “personal” & thus harder for you to join. For the same reason, most of your potential customers probably aren’t going to “friend” your business there.

LinkedIn (especially Groups & Search) works a bit like Twitter for B2B prospecting, but the volume of opportunities is an order of magnitude lower for most industries.  So far, LinkedIn also doesn’t work well for consumer-facing businesses.

Bottom-line, Twitter’s sheer size and public nature makes it uniquely valuable for customer prospecting.

But to actually use Twitter to meet new customers, you must master two basic skills:

  1. you must learn how to identify/find potential customers for your business; and,
  2. you must learn how to master Twitter gestures for your unique personality and industry.

Once you get these two skills down, using Twitter to connect with and acquire new customers is straightforward.

How To Find Prospects On Twitter

To learn the first skill, start by searching for customers using various keyword combination on Twitter Advanced Search. It’s free, relatively powerful and will give you the proof you need that customers are really out there.

Another alternative is to try the Free version of NeedTaggerwhich uses natural language processing to help you find new customers in any type of business.

When you’re ready to fully dedicate yourself to social customer prospecting – for example, to track the traffic and shares your posts produce and to A/B test your messages – then you may want to upgrade to a (paid) professional-grade tool like the Pro Version of NeedTagger.

Same Gestures, Different Medium

Mastering the second skill – learning the right social gestures – is easy once you mentally map Twitter’s gestures to their real-world equivalents. Once you understand the map, just use the gestures that have traditionally worked well for you and your type of business in the “real world”.

Here is a “map of gestures” for Twitter:

Outreach, not Spam

Worried about sending unsolicited messages to people who don’t follow you?  Listed below are a few guidelines based upon our experience.

When sending an unsolicited message to a prospect on Twitter, what you say and how you should behave depends upon the type of tweet you are responding to, as follows:

  • replying to a conversation between two people is equivalent to interjecting yourself into their discussion.  Just like in the real world, make sure you are offering information that both parties will readily appreciate, or don’t send the message.
  • replying to a person who is “shouting out” or complaining to the world at-large.  This is fair game for diving in and offering assistance.  But bear in mind that many public comments like this are emotionally-laden.  So tread carefully.
  • replying to someone who shared a link with their audience is equivalent to commenting on a blog or a forum post.  OK, so this isn’t really a “real world gesture” but you get the point.  Your best bet is to compliment the post or to ask an intelligent question about it.

When it comes to what you should actually say, check out “10 Ways to Introduce Yourself to a Prospect on Twitter“.

Whatever you do, don’t resort to automation to do your outreach for you, as this unfortunate company did:

Twitter spam FAIL

Twitter spam FAIL

As you can see, your real-world prospecting skills map nicely to the brave new world of social customer prospecting. All it takes a little bit of skill…
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