Social Media and B2B – Twitter

In a previous blog, Social Media and B2B – Let’s Get Started, I listed the three key benefits of social media as:

  1. Brand
  2. Relationships
  3. Information

Today, I will specifically discuss Twitter.

Why Tweet (use Twitter)?

The benefits of tweeting are as follows:

  1. Brand
    1. Increase visibility to build the brand
    2. Tell stories and share information that reinforce your key brand promise
  2. Relationships
    1. Facilitate relationships by knowing more about the people and companies you meet and do business with
    2. Enhance your credibility with key customers and stakeholders
  3. Information
    1. Share information that shows your customers and potential customers that you know what you are talking about and understand and care about their needs
    2. Listen to what your customers and others are saying about you and your brand
    3. Internally share the collective reading and learning of your management team better informing everyone

 

Twitter (www.twitter.com) is a micro-blog where the writer, the person who “tweets”, is limited to 140 characters. Importantly, within the 140 characters, you can use hyperlinks to refer the reader to another website, article or blog. What you tweet can be read by anyone who follows your tweets. In short, it is a one-to-many communication platform.

Especially among business professionals, Twitter has a terrible reputation as being a useless waste of time as people tweet about waiting in line or having a coffee at Starbuck’s or some other mundane thing.

For consumer companies (B2C), Twitter has often been used to promote specific products by offering instantaneous coupons or special deals to the followers of a specific tweeter. Since B2B companies rarely, if ever, use coupons or instantaneous deals, this use for Twitter does not apply. Rather, Twitter should be considered an important part of your social media marketing for its communication and information sharing purposes.

Tweeting

On a daily basis, consider tweeting information that reinforces your brand promise and positions your company as a “thought leader.”

  1. When you write a blog, promote it by tweeting about it many times over several days
  2. When you add something new and relevant to your web page, tweet about it
  3. When you read an article or blog that might be relevant to some of your customers, instead of E-mailing, press the little Twitter symbol at the end of nearly all articles on the Internet, add a brief introduction or summary of the article, and Tweet it.
  4. When you have a short thought or a brief quote that is in line with your brand and/or relevant to your customer’s business, Tweet it.
  5. When an employee wins an award or does something noteworthy, tweet about it.

With regular tweeting, you will also help improve your Google search engine ranking, increasing your company’s visibility.

Following

  1. Follow key customers and key individuals in these companies to know what are important and/or pressing issues for them
  2. Follow interesting and different people who may be thought leaders (not Ashton Kutcher, please) and who might give you some new insight or a broader perspective
  3. To get the most out of following:
    1. Stop following people whose tweets add little value and just clutter your Twitter “stream”
    2. Rather than just following one stream, create and follow multiple “lists.” With the list feature, you can collect together all the tweets from different members of a group that you set up. So, you can create separate lists of customers, of thought leaders, of suppliers, of employees with Twitter accounts, etc.

 

Searching

Your company should also consider using Twitter for its search capabilities (http://search.twitter.com). Twitter search is generally considered to be one of the largest (but often unknown) search engines. Along with using Google search and Google alerts (www.google.com/alerts), you might want to:

  1. Search Twitter for references about your customers. Are there issues or challenges that they are facing?
  2. Search Twitter for references about companies that you are considering doing business with.
  3. Search Twitter for mentions of your own company. Are other people saying good or bad things about your company?

 

Internal Information Gathering

Twitter has the capability of creating private accounts where the tweets can only be seen by those who you chose to let follow you. Combine this with the list feature and consider setting up a private Twitter list for your executive management team.

Currently, if you want to share articles or thoughts among the management team, you may E-Mail the article or thought to the different members of the group. It then collects dust in their E-Mail boxes and even if read is often quickly deleted and forgotten. With a Twitter list, just tweet the article (as discussed above, this is often a “one-click” action) or post the short thought or comment. All these will collect in the Twitter stream for your group and be accessible to the group members when they have the time to read or reflect upon them (e.g. while waiting for an airplane). In this way, the executive management team can collect together the best of all the wide reading and learning of each member of the group, significantly enhancing the team’s collective learning.

Final Thoughts

  1. With only 140 characters to use for an individual tweet, you need to…
    1. Develop the art of writing useful but seductive headlines (Note: Personally, I have yet to master that art myself. J)
    2. Use a program such as TinyURL (www.tinyurl.com) to shorten the hyperlinks in your tweets giving yourself more space in your tweets.
  2. For important ideas that you want many people to see, it may make sense to tweet the same thing multiple times over a day or two. Otherwise, they may get lost if their Twitter stream gets filled up with more recent tweets.
  3. Tweeting is easier and quicker than it looks
    1. You can gain 90% of the benefits of brand, relationships, and information by being active on Twitter twice a day for 5 minutes at a time

 

Next Time, I will discuss Facebook and conclude with some final thoughts about Social Media for the winning B2B company.

Until Then.


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About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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