This guest post is written by Phil Hollows, the Founder and CEO of FeedBlitz.
Twitter offers small businesses and independent professionals unique opportunities to out-maneuver their larger competitors, by using the social network as a real-time prospecting and customer service system. You can improve your pipeline and grow a stellar support reputation simply by following these three simple tips:
- Use Twitter Search to find leads and spot problems in real time.
- Know when to tweet and when to hold off.
- Use Twitter’s Favorites function to aggregate testimonials.
1. Get vain! Twitter search is real-time market intelligence.
Tweets are, effectively, people shouting from the rooftops, in public, about what they’re doing. Some of their cries will be relevant to you and your business. The trick is to find the signal in the 1,000 Tweets-per-second noise.
What you need is one or more well-tuned Twitter searches, running in a good Twitter client, such as TweetDeck. Once you’re set up, you can quickly identify the people talking about your industry, you, or your competition. I have TweetDeck’s audio alerts set to go off only on the relevant searches; when I hear it chirp I know there’s something I need to pay attention to.
The first essential tip is to start with a so-called “vanity search”—to find people talking about you, your business, and your niche—at http://search.twitter.com.
You’ll probably find there’s too much information with your basic search criteria. To tune the results, go to the advanced page at http://search.twitter.com/advanced to add filters and get more granular. For example, I use a search that excludes the text “http” so that I avoid (re)tweets referencing my own company’s URLs. This narrows down the search to people who are talking about us (which is what we want) instead of people who are simply using the service.
Once the search is tuned, add it to your Twitter client, then rinse and repeat for your competitors and industry terms. You should monitor them the same way.
You’ll quickly discover service and support opportunities from people who need help. You’ll find sales openings when people talk about your industry, the problem you solve, or frustrations with competitors. You’ll find new communities you can join and influence. I guarantee that you’re going to get some surprises and insights long the way!
Working this way, you can solve problems before they become crises, or close the deal before any competitors know there’s even new prospect in the market.