According to comScore Media Metrix, Twitter boasted 36.8 million unique visitors in the U.S. in September, enough to make it one of the top 30 Web properties that month.
With such a large audience, it’s no surprise that Twitter is a key tool for marketers – it was recently cited as the No. 2 social media source of B2C leads or sales and the No. 3 social media source of B2B leads or sales. So how can marketers take advantage of Twitter to generate leads? Here are five tips straight from the experts.
For B2C marketers, using Twitter to generate new leads involves monitoring Twitter for either keyword mentions of a brand to uncover prospects looking for information about your solution or mentions of certain keywords associated with people looking for information about a solution that a brand offers, according to Penny Herscher, president and CEO of enterprise customer intelligence firm FirstRain.
“In either case, the goal is to try and capture potential prospects at the point of information gathering,” she says. “And while both of these approaches have real merit, they tend to be more applicable to consumer or ‘smaller ticket’ buying processes.”
For B2B companies selling complex, big-ticket solutions, the emphasis shifts away from identifying “buyers trolling Twitter for vendor info,” according to Herscher. This requires sifting through the noise and finding relevant intelligence that meets three criteria:
1) “It must be effectively filtered to screen out non-business-relevant content. Putting vast amounts of consumer-oriented spam and unprofessional tweets in front of them will cost you real credibility points with your team.
2) “It should be de-duplicated and prioritized. Reps have very little time for intelligence updates, and during those 10 minutes with their morning coffee they can’t be sorting through 250 nearly identical tweets about earnings results. The most important stuff should always be at the top.
3) “It needs to be organized around how they sell. For intelligence to be useful and drive revenue, they need to see info not just on broad industries (‘software’ or ‘health care’), but about the very specific lines of business or need they may sell into at each customer (‘medical data management’ or ‘physician information systems’). But systems that take a simplistic keyword approach rarely yield meaningful results at this deeper level of business need.”
Herscher sums it up this way: “Conventional searches for brand mentions may be good sources of leads for consumer and SMB sales, but for enterprise and global sales reps landing and growing major accounts, it’s this kind of advanced social customer intelligence that’s truly needed to create growth opportunities.”
Tweet with the right keywords
“When you write tweets, using keywords can help your tweets be found by others much faster,” says Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO of Author Marketing Experts Inc. and adjunct instructor at New York University. “Though keep in mind that you should pick keywords only as they relate to your topic.”
She suggests marketers use Twitscoop to find out which keywords are hot right now on Twitter. “Look under the ‘Hot Trends’ tab to see what everyone is tweeting about.”
Conversations and trust
Twitter is a great place to find “people raising their hand,” according to Steve Goldner, senior director of social media marketing at MediaWhiz and Ryan Partnership. But this doesn’t mean brands should go for the sale immediately after finding relevant conversations. “Engage where the conversation is happening; get attention and attraction,” he says. “Build affinity by referring the ‘hand raisers’ to content on the brand’s digital assets and conduct sales lead gen there.”
Sansevieri echoes this advice, noting that when people talk about lead generation and Twitter, “they are often inclined to sell on these sites, and that’s a mistake.”
She shares three ways her company generates leads on Twitter:
1) Tweet helpful, insightful and proactive content that will draw people back to your website or compel them to follow you as a source of information.
2) Offer exclusives – e.g., share a link to a free book to Twitter followers first.
3) Post and converse regularly: “In order to engage, you must not broadcast. Communication is important — communicate, engage. Remember, it’s like a networking party. You would never walk up to a group of people and say, ‘Hi, buy this or that,’ and then leave. It amazes me how many people post and ditch online. No engagement, no follow-up, no consistency. Then they wonder why their following isn’t growing or turning into sales.”
Marketers must also remember that using Twitter to generate leads is more than showing that you have a brand – it’s about allowing people to know the brand and about practicing what you preach, according to Scott Spiewak, CEO of Fresh Impact PR Group. He says his company uses Twitter to share best practices they’ve learned from their 14 years in book publishing and marketing books, to paying clients and non-paying readers alike.
“In addition, we talk about specific trends we are watching and share about how to use those trends to edge out competitors,” Spiewak adds. “We are open and not dishonest about what we do and don’t do. We don’t mislead folks. If we see a cool trend, we send people to that person and encourage them to use it.”
Target the right accounts
Marketers should also use Twitter to target specific accounts they are trying to win over, according to Brian Kardon, CMO of Lattice Engines, which uses big data to inform sales professionals. He suggests that marketers follow decision-makers at those accounts to get insights into what they’re interested in by looking at what they tweet and retweet, who they follow, and what topics interest them.
“You can begin to get their attention by commenting on or retweeting their tweets and content like blog posts,” Kardon says. “They will notice and be grateful.”
“Successful lead generation on Twitter requires building trust, sharing and solving problems first, never shilling for your company upfront,” Kardon says. “Once trust is established, you can consider using a DM (direct message) to take a conversation to email or the phone.”
Kardon adds that direct messaging on Twitter is often the best way to get a senior executive’s attention. “The same person who will not respond to your email or telephone call is often surprisingly responsive to a well-written, relevant DM. “
Bonus: Measure and analyze
Measurement and analysis are essential tasks for social media, just as they are for other marketing channels, according to Kardon.
“We measure all of our leads coming from Twitter by including the source tags in the shortened URL and tracking these Twitter-sourced leads to forms on landing pages. We can eventually see how they convert and compare Twitter conversions to other sources.”
By Jason Hahn