Why do we use Twitter? For traffic? Links? Leads? Sales?
Personally, I think the most important reason is to build relationships (professional, that is). Social media, after all, is about the social not the media.
So here’s a few tips that I’ve found successful for building better business relationships on Twitter.
Understand “everybody on social media matters except me”
It’s the simplest of concepts, but the most difficult to grasp: social media is about two-way communication.
You wouldn’t go to a party and walk up to everyone and just start talking about yourself, and the same rule applies on Twitter and on social media.
Listen, engage, and take an interest in others and you’ll have social media success.
It’s social media, not selling media (that’s called advertising).
It’s okay to promote yourself and/or your business on Twitter, but you need to promote others too. Some say promote others 10x for each time you promote yourself, and I think that’s about right.
Promote others’ content, tweets, events, ideas, products, services, causes, and more. To form meaningful relationships on Twitter you need to show that you care.
On this blog, for example, I’ve spotlighted lots of startups and marketing technology companies I’ve found on Twitter, including: Wagepoint, Nimble, Uberflip, Spinnakr, Atomic Reach, and many more.
Start or jump into a conversation every day
Twitter differs from events of conferences in that you don’t have to introduce yourself to start a conversation.
People are tweeting content, news, opinions, ideas, thoughts, photos, every second of every day – and nearly all of them go out into cyberspace without any sort of response.
So start or jump into a conversation and respond.
Give your opinion, your thoughts, answer questions, or just thank others for sharing something that’s valuable to you.
Wouldn’t you like it if a lot of people started responding to your tweets?
Learn something personal about people
Even though a lot of us are tweeting for business purposes, it doesn’t always have to be about business.
So take some time to learn something personal about people. A lot can be gleaned from a profile page or past tweets.
Do they tweet about being a parent, have pets they love, a favourite baseball team, or live in a city you’ve been to? If so, share any common ground you might have.
I personally love when I’m referred to as “the guy with the basset hound”, or “the big Blue Jays fan”.
Challenge tweets (it’s okay)
Twitter doesn’t always have to be about sugar coated comments, feel-good fodder, or plain old sucking up.
I’m not saying we need to start attacking each other, but rather to take a position.
I believe people respect when their positions are challenged with well-thought counter arguments or opinions.
In the world of marketing, for example, there’s always those spouting the end of x, or the death of y, and I’m usually quick to challenge these types of assumptions (if I feel they’re wrong).
At the same time, I also welcome those who challenge my beliefs on Twitter. In fact, some of my best Twitter relationships have been with those who I’ve had disagreements with.
Just remember, you’re not attacking people, just ideas – it’s not personal.
Use Twitter to meetup with people at events
I’m not the type of person who can attends events and and easily start talking to strangers.
However, if I know people on Twitter who are going to the same event I’ll try and meet up with them.
It makes for a great ice breaker when you’ve already had some interaction with a person and know a little bit about them and their business when you get the chance to actually meet in person.
Tweet local stuff
People want to develop relationships with real people, not Twitter profiles or Twitter bots.
So show that you’re human by tweeting about your local experiences while building a local footprint.
Create local Twitter lists, tweet local events, photos, or experiences with local businesses and local people.
As a bonus, getting local exposure and links to your website can give your website boost with search engines and local SEO.
Turn a tweet into a blog
Whatever happens on Twitter doesn’t have to stay on Twitter.
In fact, one of the best way to get blog topics is to turn a Twitter conversation topic into a blog post.
A couple examples from my own blog:
I answered the top 10 Digital Marketing FAQs I often get (on Twitter)
I responded to a Twitter question about Rogers Outrank.
I curated a list of lesser known marketing people to follow on Twitter.
Turn a tweet into a meet ‘n greet
If you’re meeting a lot of people in-person from Twitter, you’re doing it right.
After all, the best way to be social isn’t over a social media platform, but over a cup of coffee (or beer).
I’ve been invited to events and meetups over Twitter, and I do my best to attend as many as I can. It’s simply the best way to establish real relationships when you can shake a person’s hand and chat face-to-face.
Always take the longview, always
Relationship-building, whether on Twitter or off Twitter, is never ending.
So take the longview.
And when your manager asks how many new Twitter followers you got this month, tell them that what’s more important is the X number of real relationships you’ve started and will nurture 🙂