While big businesses such as Target, Coca-Cola, and Dell are already using social media effectively, small business owners are just starting — often “because they should,” not necessarily because they have a plan for generating business leads. Other owners who do have a plan don’t necessarily know how to measure social media ROI. If you’re still learning, pick a social medium, say Twitter, and consider the tips below.
- Actively build your network. Add people, @mention them, retweet them. Select colleagues and potential clients in your niche or industry. Read up online on how to build your Twitter network.
- Tweet regularly and consistently. Visibility is key to growing your network and having people follow you first. If you were to track the growth of your network, you’ll probably notice a correlation to follower increase on those days that you do tweet.
- Tweet content of value to your network. That might even include what you’re eating, if you own a popular local restaurant and it’s today’s special. Be creative but be relevant to your network. Don’t be sales-y.
- Post about trending topics – before or as they’re trending. Twitter’s current trending topics shows in the right sidebar on your profile page.
- Improve your tweets. Learn how to convey ideas in the 140 characters that Twitter allows per tweet.
- Be retweetable. The more people that see your tweets, the sooner your network is likely to grow. Study ways to get retweeted.
- Prune the list of people you follow. Use third-party Twitter tools, if necessary. You don’t have to follow everyone, especially spammers. It’s more important to have a network of people who are really interested in what you’re tweeting than people who follow but don’t interact.
- Cross-promote. Show your Twitter profile URL through other social media and sharing sites. E.g., Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Scribd, Slideshare, Squidoo, your blog(s), etc. Use your profile in email signatures and in business newsletters.
- Build trust. Video might be better for building trust, but you can increasingly build rapport with people in your Twitter network. Rapport builds trust. Keep retweeting and mentioning them. Have casual conversations on Twitter.
- Convert your network. With some potential clients, you simply have to tell them what you do, after you’ve built rapport and trust. What you also might want to do is have good landing pages to convert other leads into business. You can’t build the same level of trust with everyone, but some people in your network may have no problem with being led to one your landing pages (linked to from your other web pages whose links you’ve occasionally tweeted). Tell those landing page visitors, clearly, what you’re offering, why they need it, and why you’re the person or business to deliver.
Remember, these are only tips, not a formula. Social media is the digital equivalent of “word of mouth” and “the grapevine”. So talk, tweet, act like you would in real life (albeit in only 140 characters) when sharing information or talking with others about your business (and theirs). Don’t “pitch,” converse. Do listen to what people are saying in your niche. Do measure analytics to gauge your business progress and track any milestones.
Have you used Twitter to create business leads? Did you succeed? Care to share what worked for you and what didn’t?