Ted Prodromou is an author, speaker and consultant in online advertising, social media, lead generation and search engine optimization.
His latest book in the growing “Ultimate Series” for business is the Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business. In this interview we focus on how to effectively use Twitter to not just get more followers, but get more clients for your business.
There are a lot of business owners and marketers out there who don’t get Twitter and aren’t using it to generate leads and sales for their business. Why is Twitter something they should pay more attention to?
Twitter is by far the most misunderstood social network because I think it got a bad rap when it first started. My theory is people are intimidated by the 140 character limit and they feel boxed in. They don’t think they can say anything meaningful in such a small space, so they either don’t Tweet or they just Tweet pictures of their meals.
When I first joined Twitter in 2005, people were Tweeting their inner voice and whatever was on their mind with few filters. Some of the first Tweets I remember reading include:
- I have such a bad headache today
- I really didn’t need that 5th gin and tonic last night
- I have the worst cramps today
- I love my Dominos pizza
- I hate (fill in the blank)
- I’m so horny since I got off the pill (yes someone actually Tweeted that and her number of Followers skyrocketed)
This is why millions of people joined Twitter and almost immediately never logged back in. I too did very little with Twitter for many years before I saw the value. I don’t use Twitter as a venue to share my inner voice. I use Twitter as a way to drive people to my website to download free reports and view my training videos.
In my book, Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business, I use the Curator strategy, where I use Twitter to share interesting information with my Followers. I don’t Tweet clever sayings or schedule Tweets with quotes from famous people. I share interesting articles and blog posts with others, in addition to promoting my blog posts and articles.
I think the turning point for Twitter came when it became the source for breaking news. Today, when major news events occur, the first reports come from bystanders who Tweet pictures and first-hand accounts of the breaking news, long before the traditional news teams arrive on the scene. We’ve seen it over and over at political demonstrations and as dictators are overthrown. Twitter is the primary tool for communication when these events occur.
Businesses too are seeing the value of Twitter. Every advertisement now includes a Twitter hashtag. Every television show has a Twitter hashtag displayed at the bottom of the screen. Viewers love to Tweet live during the show and talk about what’s happening. Twitter has singlehandedly gotten people to watch live television again instead of recording the show and skipping over the commercials, which makes advertisers jump for joy!
Let’s talk specifically about using Twitter to generate leads and sales for a small business. You mentioned your “Curator” strategy for using Twitter to share interesting information with your Followers. What other strategies/recommendations do you have for using Twitter to generate leads for a small business?
I use a three-pronged approach with Twitter.
The first prong is being the curator and sharing other people’s content that I find interesting or relevant to my niche. This lets my Followers see who I follow in the industry and the topics I feel are important. It also associates me with the industry thought-leaders because I’m always sharing their content. People assume you are connected with the thought-leaders when you share their content and add your perspective to the conversation.
The second prong is sharing my own content, whether it’s a blog post, a video, an interview or an article. I post this content on my blog, YouTube, SlideShare, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I use Twitter to drive traffic to these sites using a compelling Tweet that makes people have to click on the link in the Tweet to learn more.
I’ll post a video on YouTube, embed it on my blog, upload it to my Facebook Fan Page and add it to my LinkedIn profile. This gives me maximum exposure and I use different scheduled Tweets to drive people to the various sites where they can view the video. I schedule the Tweets over a few days to spread the traffic.
The third prong is where I write 50-60 Tweets using content from my books and schedule them in HootSuite so 1-2 Tweets are launched every day over 30 days. These Tweets lead people to my opt-in page where they can download a free chapter of my LinkedIn and Twitter books. I also mix in a few links to the Amazon page where they can buy the Kindle or paperback version.
Using these three prongs, I build credibility, build association with industry thought-leader, share my content and build a targeted email list. The best news is that it only takes a few hours a week and the results are well worth the effort.
Can Twitter be an effective direct sales channel for small businesses—whether using paid ads on Twitter or “regular” tweets?
Twitter can be a very effective sales channel for small B2C businesses. Small business owners can Tweet coupon codes, links to products which are on sale or links where people can sign up for discount notifications via email. They can also use Twitter as a support channel for their products.
If you watch bigger companies like Intuit around tax time in late March and early April, they Tweet coupon codes for TurboTax software and they provide support for users Tweeting questions. They also hold special online Q&A sessions where people can get help on the spot. This model could easily be used for small businesses.
As Twitter rolls out more self-serve advertising options, which are cost-effective for small businesses, Promoted Tweets and Promoted Profile campaigns can help build the brand of a small business. When the small business owner creates interesting Tweets that are promoted with ads, the Tweets can go viral and be ReTweeted over and over, at no additional cost to the business owner.
You also wrote a book about using LinkedIn for business. Generally, what types of business are better off focusing on Twitter, what types are better off focusing on LinkedIn and what types should spend time on both?
Many of my clients tell me their customers aren’t on Twitter so they ignore Twitter completely (major incorrect assumption most of the time). It turns out their customers really are on Twitter but since my clients don’t want to “waste time” on Twitter they’re missing a huge opportunity to engage them.
Twitter has over 500 million registered accounts and over 250 million active users who log in at least once a month. Many Twitter users lurk in the background and just monitor the Twitter Stream.
What brings an inactive Twitter user to life? A bad experience with a business. People love to vent on Twitter when they have problems with a product or a bad meal at a restaurant. These are the people who won’t call you to complain because they don’t want to interact directly with you. They would rather fire off an angry email to you or even worse, complain on social media sites so millions of people see the negative publicity.
If you’re not active on Twitter, you need at least be monitoring Twitter for negative comments about your business. You don’t have to actively Tweet, but you should be ready to reach out to unhappy customers immediately. It’s best to respond publicly with a reply Tweet like “How can I help you @twitteruser?” This diffuses most of the angry customers instantly because they’re looking for help and you’re offering to help solve their problem.
The same scenario goes for LinkedIn. You may assume it’s not the place for you to find new customers, but LinkedIn has become a major source of social proof. People will check out your LinkedIn profile and Company page before they do business with you. You need to have a complete, professional LinkedIn profile and an active Company page.
Social media has become a major traffic channel for marketing and a way for new customers to check you out before they commit to purchasing from you. I know it’s hard staying active on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and the hundreds of other social media sites while running a business, but people are looking for you there.
You need monitor where your web traffic is coming from and you to have a strong presence on the social media sites that drive the most traffic. You also need to monitor all of the social media sites to head off any PR disasters when negative comments appear.
Ted is offering a free report “The 5 Twitter Strategies I Use to Create an Endless Stream of Customers.” You can download it here. You can also download his LinkedIn report “The 7 Tips I Use To Create A LinkedIn Profile That Attracts Clients Like Crazy” here.