Building Your Business One Tweet at a Time: Twitter Marketing 101

social media book reviews“You want me to use Twitter to market my business?” I hear you asking. “How do I generate leads and promote my business by telling my friends what I had for lunch?

Yes, many people just use Twitter to share their day with their friends. Friends who may live 2,000 miles away.

And some people use it to broadcast a breaking news story as it happens. Like the time a plane crash-landed in the Hudson River. A man in a nearby boat with an iPhone got the “scoop” on that story before the news media reported it.

“That’s certainly dramatic,” you say. “But how do I create a marketing message in only 140 characters?

Twitter Marketing For DummiesYou can start by buying Twitter Marketing For Dummies by Kyle Lacy. Yes, there’s a Dummies book about Twitter marketing now!

The whole point of social media — of which Twitter is part — is to find your satisfied customers and encourage them to recommend you to their friends and relatives. In social media terminology, this is called finding product evangelists.

And it’s so easy to do this on Twitter.

Twitter Marketing Made Easy

  1. Sign up at Twitter.com. It’s free!
  2. Create a profile for your business.
  3. Use the search feature to find messages about your company, products, or services.

“Wait a minute!” you say. “Twitter keeps all of those messages?”

Yes! And suppose your search of the Twitter archives for your company name or product names pulls up the following message:

“Just bought. Can’t get it to work! Help!”

What would you do? Here’s what you should do immediately:

  1. Click the Reply button.
  2. Send the person who posted the message a brief helpful response.
  3. Look at the next message you found about your company or products.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3.

That’s easy enough, isn’t it?

“But what will I say?” you ask. How about, “If you need help, please call our Customer Service Dept. at 1-800-555-2848.” That’s only 75 characters.

What you’re doing is eavesdropping on the global conversations about your company and your products and services. And starting conversations with the people who are talking about you.

You can even follow them and they can follow you. This means you’ll see all their messages — their “tweets” — and they’ll see yours.

And people share information on Twitter by “retweeting” messages. If someone retweets a message you sent them, all of the people who follow them will see your message.

“The entire idea of using Twitter for marketing is to get the people who already follow you to share your content with the people who follow them,” says Lacy. “That’s viral marketing at its finest.”

And there are many third-party programs that make searching the Twitter archives so easy, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be doing it.

Once you get good at this, you’ll start tweeting yourself. More on that later.

The Twitter Marketing Plan

Like all of the Dummies books, this book takes you by the hand and leads you step-by-step through a complete Twitter marketing plan.

It includes detailed instructions, screenshots, and lists of important tips and resources. It covers the following topics:

  • Planning your Twitter marketing strategy
  • Searching the Twitter archives
  • Using third-party applications to increase your Twitter productivity
  • Using analytics software to track your marketing efforts
  • Building your Twitter network of product evangelists

And many more.

Do you understand now how you’re going to use Twitter to market your business? You can start by monitoring all of those messages about your company and responding to them whenever it’s appropriate.

In social media terminology, this is called reputation monitoring.

Don’t worry about being overwhelmed by all those messages. Each tweet is only 140 characters long. That’s approximately 20 words.

Once you master eavesdropping, you can start tweeting yourself. Post interesting and informative content — not advertisements! — that your followers will retweet to their followers. And those followers might just retweet it to their followers. Content like:

  • Help from your customer service department
  • Links to your latest blog post
  • Notes about interesting news in your industry
  • Product/service updates
  • Announcements of events and special deals

Yes, you can still “advertise” in a tweet. But Lacy recommends that you limit advertisements to 1 out of every 15 tweets. You don’t want to come across as a “spammer” because Twitter will close your account.

Remember, you need to find people who are already talking about you and offer them help with your products and services as well as interesting content. If you do that, they will not report you as a spammer. They might even share your messages with their followers!

And when you have hundreds — maybe even thousands — of followers who each retweet your content to their hundreds of followers, you’ll understand what product evangelism and viral marketing are all about.

Here is how social media such as Twitter are changing advertising forever, according to Lacy:

  • Reach your customers where they are, instead of advertising in places you hope they’ll be.
  • Send your message only to people who care about your product, instead of wasting ink and money on people who don’t.
  • Create frequent content and get it to customers at all hours of the day, not once a month or only at game time.

Are you ready to try the new way of advertising? Targeting the people who already care about your products and services and helping them spread the word about your company? That’s Twitter marketing in a nutshell.

And did I mention that Twitter is absolutely free?

Social Media Examiner gives this book a 5-star rating.

See “It Pays to Listen: Avaya’s $250K Twitter Sale” on SocialMediaExaminer.com to learn how Avaya employees got a $250,000 contract by tracking their company name on Twitter.  Also be sure to check out our Twitter Marketing Video Tutorial (free when you subscribe to our email updates).

How are you using Twitter to market your business? Please add your comment in the box below!

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About the Author, Ruth M. Shipley

Ruth M. Shipley is a freelance researcher and writer who loves to write a good story. Because that’s what most people love to read! See her Social Media Examiner page for more stories about social media books. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.CreateWithEric.com Eric Goldstein

    Supa dupa post!

    Most people underestimate the POWER
    of Twitter… or they just don’t understand
    how to use it Effectively.

    You really gave some golden nuggets and
    showed how you can tap into convo’s that
    are going about your company/product/niche.

    Thanks for the good stuff:)

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/TheLeadershipGeek Sean Michael Kelly

    Yes, great stuff. I’ve tweeted the link!

  • edmeeroche

    Helpful tips-ty! Engagement with customers is key. I would also emphasize checking ur
    @ section on HOME page. I cannot tell you how many shouts-outs I have given 2 start-ups
    as a sales test (I consult w/ start-ups) w/ no response back. So simple 2 do.

  • http://www.myaspergers.net/ steveborgman

    Looks like this book is going to be a winner. Especially since there are a lot of us on Twitter, but we don’t always have a good marketing plan for our Tweets, as Eric stated above.

  • http://thedivastylecoach.com/ DivaStyle Coach

    Love this tip – will be adding this to my regular set of Twitter tasks – will also be tweeting this link!

  • pattycisco

    I use Twitter to get brand recognition. The industry I focus on, senior care providers, are slow to catch on to social media…so progress is slow with Twitter. Any suggestions on where to search for them?

  • http://www.vasserpro.com/ Pool Service Software

    I have a few “Dummies” books on my shelf and honestly, they are not for dummies, they are very well written textbooks that take you from know-nothing to know-all (almost). If you are lost on Twitter and how to monetize using Twitter, this should be a great place to start.

  • http://www.KidsDiscuss.com/ Jean Tracy, MSS

    I schedule about 8 tweets a day through Social Oomph. Each tweet has a parenting tip. Several link back to a page on my website where there’s a product that includes many more tips. Other tweets link to freebies on my website. Am I overdoing it?

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Ruth, I aim to be a content demon, meaning that I provide as much value about my own business while promoting the business opportunities of others.

    Rule 1 on twitter: if you want to reach people you should boost others. RT like mad. Promote their businesses. As you mentioned it’s critical to engage. People are interested in people, not bots or people who don’t engage in 2 way conversations.

    Great insight!

  • ellencagnassola

    The key is to be transparent, interactive, and customer friendly. It is that simple, no magic.

  • http://www.djnightlife.com DJ NightLife

    All of your followers are auto follow back or pretty much, which aren’t “real followers”. How can Twitter be useful to you if you auto follow every one? I can’t imagine how messy your Tweetdeck could be!

  • laurademeo

    Thank you for sharing your insight! I hear people all the time say the Twitter doesn’t work or make too much sense. Over time and the more value you bring and the more responsive you are, Twitter can be a great tool to build relationships and for ultimately growing your business… It just takes one tweet at a time– thanks! Laura

  • http://www.CreateWithEric.com Eric Goldstein

    DJ NightLife… I appreciate your comment back. I get a lot of people following me per day, so I need to automate certain things. My TweetDeck is set up with many Twitter Searches as well as the lists that I’ve created on Twitter.

    This is how I follow the people that I want to and build real relationships. When I connect with someone new who I want to further my relationship with, I had them to one of my lists or searches.

    I do appreciate your feedback… it’s the great thing about this world, we all get our own perspective:)

  • http://www.CreateWithEric.com Eric Goldstein

    DJ NightLife… I appreciate your comment back. I get a lot of people following me per day, so I need to automate certain things. My TweetDeck is set up with many Twitter Searches as well as the lists that I’ve created on Twitter.

    This is how I follow the people that I want to and build real relationships. When I connect with someone new who I want to further my relationship with, I had them to one of my lists or searches.

    I do appreciate your feedback… it’s the great thing about this world, we all get our own perspective:)

  • http://twtrcoach.com TwtrCoach

    Hi Ruth.

    Great and very timely article for me. Just did go through some of stats after Easter. And notice that stats had dropped on Twitter. So need to kick up some of my Twitter Marketing skills a notch.

    I got the Twitter Dummies book. So have to check out if Twitter Marketing add additional value.

    Cheers.. Are

  • http://www.patsutton.com/ PatSutton

    For me, Twitter rocks – I had the honour of being listed as one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes Magazine so I am an example of how Twitter can turn your business around.

  • http://richardmclaughlin.biz/ McLaughlin

    The following is a conversation I had with someone on LinkedIn. He began by saying “I would never use Twitter.”

    I’m not trying to sell Twitter or any other social media tool, but I asked “why not?” Below is a summary of our conversation.

    Him: Twitter is a waste of time
    Me: Why is it a waste of time, your clients and potential clients don’t use it?
    H: Oh, they use it, but I don’t want to tell people that I just had a cup of coffee
    M: OK, don’t. How about just tweeting useful information
    H: I also don’t want spammers to try and sell me thing
    M: OK, don’t follow spammers. Only follow your clients and potential clients
    H: but I meet with them on a regular basis already
    M: Would a daily touch be better than monthly
    H: Sure, but I might not have something to say to each of them daily
    M: OK, how about saying something that some of them might like. They are all your clients so they are all in your niche. Can’t you find something informative daily?
    H: Yes I could, but it is still a waste of time.
    M: OK, so you have tried it and found it didn’t work for you. I suppose my arguments are not really valid for you
    H: Oh, I never tried it. I just read the press about it and people email me their Twitter names and ask me to follow.
    M: OK, so your clients are reaching out to you, asking you to remain in touch with them with their choice of social media platform and you see it as a waste of time.
    H: Yes, exactly.
    M: Sorry, you must be right, sorry for wasting your time.

    What can you do with people that have their minds made up?

    This guy had *potential* clients asked that he stay in touch with them on a daily basis. People asked for him to get to know them better before the next sales call, and he said no.

  • ruthmshipley

    Hello DJ!

    I don’t use TweetDeck or any other third-party Twitter app yet, but if I recall, you can filter TweetDeck messages on specific keywords. In this case, you would filter them by your company name or product name(s). And you could filter EVERY public message, not just the tweets from people you follow.

    So that’s the point: you can literally search the Twitter archives for EVERY public message about your company.

    I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong!

  • ruthmshipley

    Thank you, Sean!

  • ruthmshipley

    Exactly! Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the tweets from my followees. But the LEAST I do is check my @ messages. Should do it every day, but I haven’t managed to do that yet.

  • ruthmshipley

    Exactly, Steve. Anyone in business needs to sit down (after reading this book) and create a Twitter marketing plan. Twitter is just a new FREE communication medium for staying in touch with current and prospective customers/clients.

  • ruthmshipley

    Thank you!

  • ruthmshipley

    Yes, “dummies” is not the best choice of words, unfortunately. The publisher probably should have called it the “Made Simple” series: “Twitter Marketing Made Simple.” Or something like that.

  • ruthmshipley

    To be honest, Jean, I follow some people who tweet almost every hour. And they’re usually promoting something. To me, that’s just too much and borders on spam. I’m seriously considering dropping them.

    If you tweet 8 times a day, in an 8-hour day, that’s one every hour. Remember, once you get followers, you want to keep them! That’s the most important thing when you’re trying to build a community on social media. Some people might stop following you if you tweet too much and most of your tweets are perceived as being “spammy.”

    This is just my 2 cents, and I would love to hear from others.

  • ruthmshipley

    Hello Ryan!

    I would say if you want to reach people, give them content that they’re interested in! If that includes other people’s content, by all means, include it.

    People are not only interested in people, they prefer to do business with people they like. And if they see you providing interesting content, and not just spamming them, they will learn to like you and value their relationship with you.

    And the best way to start this relationship on social media is to “listen” first. Start searching the Twitter archives and blogosphere for keywords associated with your interests. Read what other people are saying about those subjects and comment with a link back to your site.

    And supply your own content! If it’s your interest, you’ll have plenty to say about it to other people who are also interested. Ask if you can be a guest blogger on other sites.

    You will begin to create an online community around your passion. And eventually, you may be able to monetize your passion.

    This is what Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It! is all about. I just reviewed this book for Social Media Examiner. Look for my review the first week in May.

  • ruthmshipley

    Exactly, Ellen!

    Provide interesting content to people who are interested in that subject.

  • ruthmshipley

    Hello Laura:

    Exactly! Twitter is just a FREE communication tool. Period. It lets you connect with your customers “in the trenches.” And it lets you build a community that cares about your interests because they share them.

    I think the doubters focus on telling your friends what you had for lunch. Of course, that’s silly! “How do I market my business that way?” they ask.

    The key is to start listening first. Use third-party apps like TweetDeck, filter it on specific keywords, and read the messages. If you see one you can answer, answer it! Start conversing with people who are interested in the same things you are.

    If they talk about a problem that your company’s products can solve, you have an instant marketing opportunity there. Forget about paying tens of thousands of dollars to show an ad during the Super Bowl! How many people watching the Super Bowl have the problem your product solves?

    On Twitter, you have the chance to directly connect with people who have a problem you can solve. And it’s free!

    And yes, it does take time. Which is why companies need to start building a community of people who care about their products and services NOW. Your competitors may be doing it. Shouldn’t you?

  • ruthmshipley

    Pat, that is awesome!

    Thank you so much for commenting.

  • ruthmshipley

    Thank you so much for reproducing this detailed conversation.

    This man still focuses on “what would I say?”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong! You start by LISTENING. Download TweetDeck, search for keywords related to your company’s products or services, and read the tweets. If you can answer some of them, do. These are people who might have a problem your company can solve. You will ABSOLUTELY find plenty to say to them! You’ll even curse the 140-character limit! Is it really a “waste of time” to listen to potential customers? To contact them?

    Perhaps this man has enough clients now and prospective clients in the future and doesn’t feel that social media will help him. Fine! There’s really no point in arguing with someone who has made up his or her mind and won’t listen to you.

  • Maxiosearch

    Thanks Ruth, great advices!

    Twitter has many tricks that are valuable to be known to improve your campaigns and presence there and build your community accurately. Join the conversations on Startups.com Q&A and share with others what you know!

  • Erken

    Very helpful article! So many businesses could take advantage of Twitter, but they just don’t know how to use it. To be able to reach your customer wherever they are, whenever, and ensuring they have a good experience with your brand is so important!

  • http://joshchandler.co.uk/ Josh Chandler

    Let’s hope that businesses find this valuable resource. Certainly the most comprehensive I’ve seen on the topic, nicely summarises a lot of people’s opinions over the past couple of months.

    Thanks Ruth.

  • ruthmshipley

    Exactly! They need to get beyond the “what do I talk about?” mentality and just start monitoring the conversations people are already having about companies, products, and services.

  • http://simplystatedbusiness.com Cathy Miller

    McLaughlin:

    You hit on something that I have blogged about as well and strikes me as…well…odd. It’s your comment: OK, so your clients are reaching out to you, asking you to remain in touch with them with their choice of social media platform and you see it as a waste of time

    I just don’t get the person who thinks effective business practices include ignoring the reasonable wishes of your customers. People communicate differently. Before the explosion of social media, I tried to determine if my customers preferred communicating by phone, email or in person. I adjusted my communication to their style.

    On the other hand, I have seen this same resistance in the social media world – I sent a Tweet to someone whose course I was taking & their response was for me to post it on Facebook…uh, why don’t you ask if I would mind if YOU shared it on Facebook?

    I worked with an older gentleman who is very techy-adverse but what he does is have someone from his team use the social media platform for those customers who prefer it. His customers have no problem with the arrangement and to me, I applaud him for recognizing his own limitations but finding a solution to meet the needs of his customers. After all, isn’t that why we are in business?

  • http://www.petersopinion.com PetersOpinion

    Great post with a lot of good insights I completely agree with.

    But ….. the approach you promote is mostly applicable to a know brand or a know product. What if you are a not that well know company? In such a case the proposed kick start by searching Twitter is less easy. I’m already for a longer time struggling with this, because this is what many people might have against Twitter. The pre-investment: listening, replying, connecting and sending information is quite an effort.

    Personally I treat Twitter as a long term investment, but in today’s economy many people are looking for quick wins. Any thoughts/examples on that?

  • http://www.bluehelm.com Chad Mustard

    Great post for those just getting into Twitter. I think it’s important to emphasize the need to stay focused on your target audience. With twitter it’s so easy to get distracted by all of the trending topics, hash-tags, and fads out there. It’s very tempting to Tweet about anything and everything. Remember you’re a business. Stay focused and be consistent so those who follow you will know what to expect. If they value your tweets, they become that “product evangelist” you spoke of.

  • ruthmshipley

    PetersOpinion:

    This is a great comment!

    To your first comment re: what if your company or product is not that well-known? What you can do is search for keywords associated with the problem that your product solves.

    For example, suppose you created a brand new skin lotion. You could search for the keywords “dry” and “skin” or “dry” “flaky” “skin”. And you might pull up tweets like: “My skin is so dry and flaky. Can anyone recommend a good skin lotion?” And you could reply, “We just created a new skin lotion. Can we send you a free sample?” No one will ever turn down a free sample!

    And to your second comment: Yes, listening and replying to tweets every day IS “quite an effort.” But that’s what you have to do to start building a community on Twitter.

    According to Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Crush It!, this is the ONLY way you can monetize your passion. If you’re not willing to build a community around your passion that you can eventually monetize, you may as well forget about running a business. Just find a boring, dead-end job and be miserable for the rest of your life.

    Vaynerchuk also believes that social media are a long-term investment that can have an enormous payoff. But you have to hustle! You have to work the system every single day.

    I just reviewed Crush It! for Social Media Examiner. Look for it the first week of May.

  • ruthmshipley

    Exactly, Chad!

    That’s why so many people are disenchanted with Twitter. I read that 40% of Twitter users drop out after just a few months. They get distracted by all useless (to them) tweets. And many businesses just don’t get it, either.

  • http://www.petersopinion.com PetersOpinion

    Thanks a lot for the reply. And I completely agree with your approach. Basically it’s similar what I advice my clients to do.

    Looking forward to the review!

  • http://netcraftindia.com/ Netcraftindia

    I am totally agree about the effectiveness of twitter. It can be the good tool to promote any business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Davis/1206693771 Greg Davis

    I use Twitter to promote my website, and so far, I think it is working. I’ve been in the fencing/landscaping business since 1986, but only recently became a Twitter fan. I simply was unaware of the fact how I could market on Twitter. With help, I was able to link Twitter, my blog, facebook, even buzz on gmail all together- its simply been amazing!

    -Greg Davis

    http://www.fenceinvestments.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Davis/1206693771 Greg Davis

    ruthmshipley you are so correct! By putting in basic keywords in the search box, fence, need, high quality, I was able to pick up a person who wanted a “high quality fence” which is just what We are all about! Twitter is invaluable!

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