We often hear about the latest food truck owner tweeting his/her specials to hungry customers or Dell hawking its latest deals, but what the heck has as that to do with us in the B2B space?
A lot and a little it turns out.
While in all likelihood we don’t have a hot offer to promote in 140 characters or less, there are a lot of other benefits for B2B companies to participate in Twitter. PS: I know there has been some recent buzz about how Google+ may be a Twitter killer but for now I don’t suggest abandoning Twitterr. In fact, you can incorporate your Twitter feeds into Google+.
Here are 6 ways B2B companies can take advantage of Twitter:
• A Digital Hearing Aid. Twitter gives you the uncanny ability to innocuously listen in on what people are saying about your brand/company/industry and the competition. Using a tool like HootSuite or TweetDeck, it’s easy to create lists of people to follow or keywords to track. You can then have your own virtual focus group to better understand the needs of your customers and prospects and shine a spotlight on the activities of your competitors. Anyone not doing this is ignoring a key market intelligence tool.
• Thought Leadership. Here, the operative word is “focus.” Carve out several topics related to your business and industry and religiously tweet about them. For example, in my case, I talk up B2B PR and try to tweet about it 50% of the time. I find that combining tweets on that subject with a little broader content mixed with some strategic retweeting is a nice balance. While you want to be targeted, you also don’t want to wear out your welcome with a one beat sound.
• Brownie and IQ points. Retweeting gives you the chance to showcase what others are saying. It’s a complete win-win because at the same time you’re helping someone else, and winning his/her support, you’re also advancing your own thought leadership. Think of this as your Neitzsche moment. It’s the idea that if you quote someone who is an ntellectual leader, some of their reknown reflects on you. Retweet someone who has something wise to say, and you too by association are thought to be a little smarter.
• Prospect/Partner Dance. Twitter gives you a chance to dance with or at least reach out to virtually anyone from President Obama to a prospect you’ve been trying to connect with. With an estimated 200 million people tweeting, it’s likely that a prospect or partner you have been eying is tweeting away right under your eye. At minimum, you can get a sense of a potential prospect and/or partner’s interests. Start by simply observing and listening. You then might want to comment or retweet something they have said. This will help begin a dialogue. Yes, dialogue. You don’t want to simply be a bullhorn as too many companies on Twitter do by blasting away. You’ll want to interact and engage. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve failed by not signing up new business Obviously, it takes more than a few tweets to get someone interested in what you’re doing. However, you can begin conversations with people who ordinarily might not be accessible. It can be as simple as retweeting what they are saying. Or commenting on something they have said. At some point, you’ll want to take it offline and do some old-fashioned chatting but Twitter can help make that happen a lot sooner.
• Media outreach. I love the terminology Sarah Skerik, of PR Newswire uses to refer to Twitter. Sarah’s term: the new Rolodex. Twitter give you another way to engage bloggers, media and analysts and, as Sarah puts it “get inside their heads in a way you never could before.” Here too you will want to listen before doing anything. You’ll get an inside view into what they view as important. You’ll then better understand their hot buttons when you do decide to engage.
• Search engine and web visibility. Want to drive more traffic to your website or article? The search engines reward links from people on Twitter who are considered to have “authority.” That means getting people to link to your content who regularly post about your subject and have a lot of followers.
So what are you waiting for? Why don’t you get out there and start tweeting. And be sure to say hello to me @wendymarx. I look forward to hearing from you on Twitter and elsewhere.
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Wendy Marx, B2B PR and Marketing Communications Specialist, Marx Communications
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