This is a guest post written by Brian Norgard. He’s a super smart entrepreneur/surfer that sold his last company Newroo to FOX Interactive Media. If you’re looking to understand how to build a business then follow him on Twitter Brian also spoke at the Elite Retreat conference and killed it!
Emerging platforms create new opportunities to find and acquire the lifeblood of your business—customers. Twitter is the breakthrough product of 2009 because of its unique ability to create lightweight and fluid conversation—in near real time—around just about any topic.
Let’s look at 5 ways you can leverage the platform to build your business:
1. Twitter Search (The Big One)
Twitter is fast becoming a lead generation nirvana marked by anxious customers looking for real time answers and active feedback about every product and service imaginable. How do you utilize this trend to grow your business? Two words: Twitter search.
Search is not yet fully integrated (http://search.twitter.com) into the Twitter experience (though it’s coming soon) however the potential as an acquisition engine is tremendous. Twitter search represents a near synchronous half loop of customer intent that not even Google captures today. How do you complete the loop to fully realize the value? Whatever product or service you market there is likely someone talking about it right now on Twitter.
Find these customers by searching the most relevant keywords associated within your market. Thereafter, join the conversation by sending a useful message that contains relevant information.
There is a fine line between being attentive to the needs of the customer and acting like a stalker. Be helpful. Be courteous. Don’t be too pushy. For example, when responding to a customer question, offer this, “I noticed you had a question about X. Check out this link, it might help.” Simple and direct.
The rate at which you receive a reply is proportional to how much value you create for the customer. Take time to craft a thoughtful response—it pays.
Client side tools like TweetDeck also can help you stay on top of the massive streams of information on Twitter. The standardized tools Twitter offers are not going take you and your business to the next level. Upgrade.
2. Find the Influencers in Your Vertical
One of the better ways to find and acquire customers on Twitter is to route through influencers. They are the gatekeepers that own the attention pool you covet. Co-opt their streams by inserting useful bits of information into the conversation (i.e. a link to an item, a fact about the topic, or a short anecdote).
It might seem futile to offer random suggestions against the wind. It’s not. Your opportunity cost is always time yet when a Guy Kawasaki or a Jeremy Schoemaker messages you back it’s more than just a message. It’s a signaling mechanism to an entire micro community that you are legit.
Standing on your soapbox and blindly tweeting ultimately won’t cover much surface area for your business. How does one identify the influencers? Generally, though not always, the number of followers an individual has on Twitter is proxy for their sphere of influence.
Another way to identify influencers is to search on Google Blog Search or Technorati for the highest trafficked blogs in your vertical. See if those folks have an account on Twitter. If they do, follow them and track what makes them tick.
3. Profile Bio
This one is easy: create a contextually relevant profile bio. Do you sell baby cribs? Then make it evident by stating what makes you the world’s expert in the baby crib trade.
It’s important to understand potential customers on Twitter will take the time to read your bio if you offer them something timely, interesting and helpful. It’s their way of pre-qualifying you.
4. Grab a Relevant Twitter Domain
A contextually relevant Twitter URL is an a powerful way to build
trust with potential customers. For example, if a user tweets, “I am looking for a new baby crib any ideas?” Who is she going to respond to? Twitter user Tcvtex99000 or BabyCribExpert? You decide.
5. Twitter URL On Business Card/Email Signature
Make sure you attach your Twitter URL to both your business card and email signature. It’s amazing how many customers you interact with on any given day via email. Take advantage of this immense pool of liquidity by making your Twitter URL as easy to find as your phone number.