How to Network Online with Twitter

Twitter Strategies

Secrets to Getting Connected and Getting Results

From the book, Make Your Connections Count

When I speak to entrepreneurs and business owners about what social media sites they use, they often portray Twitter as the ugly stepsister compared to other social networking sites. I often hear phrases like It looks like a waste of time, It's just a bunch of teenagers, or the most popular statement: I don't get it. Maybe it's the 140-character limit, the lack of closeness or the difficulty with following a conversation. However the possibilities Twitter offers are simply misunderstood.

I have met countless valuable contacts on Twitter. I share information with them. I create strategic alliances with them. I help them promote their events and services to a wider audience that may not have been reached for free on Facebook®. Plus, I receive the occasional reply from a favorite celebrity—just icing on the cake!

Think of Twitter as your radio station. If you send out great content (and we will get more into that later), you will get followers who want to hear more.  In this way, Twitter is like a Facebook page. Instead of someone clicking on the Like button to subscribe to your page, they click on the Follow button. However, the most important difference about Twitter compared to other social media sites is that it is the only social media site, other than blogging, where every post is indexed by the search engines. This means that if someone searches for your business, they may find your one Facebook page. If you have a Twitter account, and post multiple times about your business, it is possible to find every, single post in Google®—and not just your one Twitter account. That is the real power of adding Twitter to your social networking efforts.

Connecting with People on Twitter
 
The first step in using Twitter is to complete your profile with your name, web site link, bio and headshot. You can also upload a custom background image on which you also include your headshot, along with your logo and any relevant photos for your business. I suggest you use the same name and photo for all of your social media sites. This creates consistent branding and makes it easier for people to find and recognize you. Do not skip any of these basic steps. Your Twitter profile should clearly communicate who you are and what you do. I suggest turning off the email notifications to avoid getting hundreds of emails. Later we will talk about how often to post on Twitter. If you do post consistently, which is the only way to get results from any marketing strategy, email notifications are not necessary.
 
Next, start following people you already know. If you use a Google or Yahoo® email address, you can have Twitter search through your address book and find people who are already on Twitter. If you do not use either service, it is easy to upload a comma-separated values text file (CSV) of your contacts into Google and then have Twitter search through your address book The key contacts to focus on are your current clients, strategic alliances and prospects. In Twitter, you can add people to Lists and you have the ability to make these Lists public or private. Keep your Lists of clients and prospects private, so that only you can see it. You can create a public List of your strategic alliances and give it a descriptive name that your audience would be interested in. For example, if you and your strategic alliances help “momepreneurs”, mothers who are also business owners, you can name your public List, “Mompreneur Resources”.

 
Differentiate yourself. The internet is cluttered with thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs who say they do what you do. However, when you define a specific type of person and what specific problem you help that person solve, you can start to differentiate yourself from your competition. Imagine that you are talking to just one person. Who shows up in your mind when you think of your most ideal client? Ask yourself questions like: Is it a man or a woman?  How old is he or she? Where does that person live? What are his or her interests? What is that person’s main problem?
 
Target new contacts. Use either the Search feature on Twitter or Twitter's Advanced Search at search.twitter.com to find your ideal clients and start following them. Twitter's Advanced Search is a fantastic feature that allows you to target new contacts by what they post and where they are located. For example, if you are a massage therapist, you can search for the keywords neck, back, pain, and hurts within a radius of ten miles from your zip code.
 
Another way to find new contacts to follow on Twitter, is to use their "Who to Follow" page. Twitter's software selects people for you to follow based on who you are following now, your location and also their promoted or paid advertisers. You can also click on Browse Interests and you will see recommendations for top media personalities, news sites and industry experts.
 
Web directories like WeFollow® allows Twitter users to list themselves under chosen categories. You can list yourself, as well as find others to follow based on similar industries, interests or your target market. Tweepi® is a web tool I recommend to help flush out spammers from your followers. You can also easily add new people to follow by groups versus adding them one by one.

You will find that a certain percentage of the people you follow will follow you back. Do not be dismayed if the numbers are not high as first. Aim for quality over quantity. Sending out high quality information in your posts can lead to higher quality followers.

It is very easy to get overwhelmed with all of the connections you will make on Twitter. Remember to continue using the Lists feature to stay in touch with your most important contacts. Add your new contacts to the appropriate Lists too.

  

What to Post

The biggest key to success in using Twitter (as well as any social media site) is to give first and use the eighty/twenty rule. Spend eighty percent of the time sharing valuable content to your audience and networking with others. Spend the other twenty percent on promotion.

Post links to industry-related articles and blog posts that your audience would be interested in reading about. If they have a Twitter name, be sure to mention their name with the @ sign. For example, if your audience would be interested in reading about internet marketing strategies, you can post a link to a blog post by a marketing coach and add “via @CoachTwitterName. You will be known as a resource in your field when you take the time to curate and aggregate niche content for your audience.
 
Make recommendations. Using #FollowFriday, or #FF hastag in your post, you can recommend whom you think other people should follow on Twitter.
While you can mention several Twitter names in your post,
I suggest that you use #FollowFriday in a more effective manner. Pick only one person or business that you want to recommend. This might be one of your strategic alliances or one of your clients. Include his or her Twitter name with the @ sign and say why you recommend that person. Posting an online testimonial on behalf of your network is in the true spirit of giving and can increase people’s appreciation and respect for you.
 
Share ideas. Your giving activities can include your own work as well. Do you have a tip for the day? A new blog post? Even just posting what you are up to if your audience is interested in that. There is a common joke about Twitter that no one cares about what you had for lunch. However, I disagree with that if you are a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a restaurant owner, or just someone who supports local businesses. You can take your everyday events and relate them to what your audience is interested in hearing about. Are you working on a new presentation? A new product? Give your audience an inside peek to your day.

How Often Should You Tweet?

Post frequently. People frequently ask me How often should someone post on Twitter? Unlike other social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn®, it is appropriate to post multiple times on Twitter. Some people even expect you to post multiple times. While there is no exact number of how many times you should post on Twitter, be careful not to go to the extreme—posting every minute of every day is too extreme. Your followers do not want you to flood their Timeline, or their home page. 

Tweet when you eat. If you only post once a day it is unlikely that people will see your post. Your posting schedule also depends on your schedule. If you can only commit to five minutes a day on Twitter, then you can post your content, reply to followers and retweet other posts once a day for those five minutes. However, if you want massive results from using Twitter, I highly recommend spending at least five to ten minutes, several times a day. A common Twitter schedule is to tweet when you eat—login to Twitter in the morning, at lunchtime and before or after dinner.

Your Twitter Routine. When you log in to to Twitter, quickly look at the first page of your home page, called the Timeline. Reply or Retweet any relevant tweets of the people you follow that your audience would be interested in as well. Next, check and reply to your Messages. Messages, previously called Direct Messages or DM's, are private tweets sent directly to you. You will mostly receive spam here (which is why I earlier suggested to not receive email notifications), but you will get occasiTonal real messages to you from your Followers. Then, Reply to your Mentions. These are tweets that are sent to you, but they are public.

Rember to check on your Lists of clients, strategic alliances and prospects. This will keep your most important contacts top of mind for you and their updates will not get lost in your home page. Click the Reply link to comment on a post they made or click the Retweet link to share something they posted. They will see that you are keeping in touch with them and will appreciate that you are sending their updates to your network. You can also welcome new Followers, thank people for adding you to their Lists, replying and retweeting your and finally, post your content.

Once you are accustomed to this routine, it will not take you any longer than ten minutes each time. If you find yourself spending a lot more time than that, use a kitchen timer or a software program, to keep your online time short and effective.
 
Twitter Automation.
Take advantage of technology to keep your Twitter posts consistent as well.   Import your blog into Twitter with a tool like Twitterfeed.  Every new blog post will automatically post on Twitter. I suggest setting it up so that it posts your blog title, part of the first sentence and, of course, a link to your blog so your Twitter followers can read the rest on your web site. Some social media tools, like HootSuite®, allow you to upload a spreadsheet of updates that you can schedule out for the future. This is very convenient however do not use this as a crutch. You can attract more Twitter followers if you take the time to engage with people online personally. Nobody wants to do business with a robot.

Likewise, be mindful of software that automatically sends a direct message to new followers. Even though you can personalize the message with their name, it can still feel robotic if it's too pushy or too common. “Thanks for following me. Get my free ebook...” is so common, it's not only ineffective, it may rub your new followers the wrong way and they may become your new unfollowers instead.

Outsource. If you are busy already and not sure how you can fit Twitter into your day, you can outsource and delegate part of the work. Social media management is a specialty in the marketing field, as well as in the virtual assistant world. You can outsource the technical aspects including integrating Twitter into your other social media sites as well as administrative tasks like data entry and deleting spam.

Getting Results

Going back to the eighty/twenty rule, remember to use twenty percent of your posts to promote your own services, products and events. Rather than asking people for a direct purchase on Twitter, share a catchy title and a link to your sales or registration page. For example, Overwhelmed with your to-do list? http://yourlink,.com, would be a catchy tweet to promote a time management coach's services. If you're looking for speaking engagements ask for connections, send tweets about your speaking topics, promote your upcoming presentations and post links to your speaking page on your web site.

Speaking of your web site, make sure the landing page you send people to has a clear call to action. If you promote your upcoming workshop and the page you send them to is your home page and not the registration or sales page, people can get lost or distracted and may never sign up for your workshop. An effective landing page should build an emotional connection with the audience and give them a reason to purchase or sign up.

Give something away. Another way to increase your results with Twitter is building your mailing list by giving away something for free. Create a free report that people can sign up for and promote the report on Twitter. Again, create a catchy title to get people’s attention. What problem does your ideal client have? Provide solutions in your free report—without giving everything away. Tell them what the solutions are, but not how to solve the problem. If they're interested in how to solve the problem, offer them a consultation. 

As you can see, Twitter can be a waste a time or a gold mine. It all depends on how you use it. If you choose to utilize Twitter by becoming known as a valuable resource and by consistently engaging with your network, you can expect your efforts on Twitter to pay off.

Remember these steps for successful Twitter results:

Fill out your profile completely to brand you and your business.
Start connecting with people you already know, including your current clients, strategic alliances and your prospects.
Find new contacts using Search, Suggestions and other Twitter-related web sites.
Remember the eighty/twenty rule when posting. Have the giving and educational mindset.
Post consistently, taking advantage of technology to help you, but still remember personal engagement is necessary for success.
When directing people to your web site, have a clear call to action, whether it is giving them a free gift to add them to your email list or registering them for your workshop.

Implement these strategies to make your connections count on Twitter!

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