We launched our company Twitter account by getting a few thousand other Twitter users to follow us -- by following them. The result was like a crowded pick-up joint on Saturday night. People were all shouting vapid one-liners at each other, hoping to hook up. There was very little true engagement. So we went through and deleted 95% of those we were following, looking for people who actually said something we wanted to hear. We also improved the quality of our own tweets with the focus on saying something of value to those following us, not just saying what we wanted people to listen to us say. Still, I don't feel like we have hit the sweet spot. So what can we do to encourage some real engagement on Twitter?
Since I know you are going to ask, we are B2B company in the internet marketing space. Our customers are generally SMB's.
EDIT- By "engagement" I mean a conversation, a dialog, not just competing monologs. The point would be that they read and respond to our tweets and we to theirs. The objective of this conversation would be twofold: 1) to bolster their opinion of us as experts in our space; and 2) to make them feel heard and appreciated. A sale as a direct result of a tweet is not what we are after here.
I did that with my first startup and it was just useless. I just followed people till the followed me back. Result: 1500 people that don't give a crap about me and most are just robots.
With my new business, I am following people I find interesting, retweeting their tweets, and engaging in conversation. The result after 3 weeks: 200 followers, most of whom are actually interested in what I say.
Quality --> Quantity. The best people I personally follow normally have < 1000 followers.
In general - to get people to notice you you have to provide something of value - making it worth their time. I don't see how 140 characters allows you to do that - however a website does provide a lot more opportunity to provide some kind of value.
I am an early adopter. I believe in testing new models, trying and working with new platforms. I like the challenge it provides my aging brain. And I believe that knowing through experience is something that I can provide my clients.
As you can see from my previous question, I am only slowly growing in my appreciation of the potential of Twitter to provide meaningful engagement with your customers, distributors, and vendors.
I do believe in the word engagement. To me it means providing meaningful bi-direction communication opportunities. (for the purpose of this question anyway -- and not that guy who was selling engagement rings. Something different!)
More importantly I believe in the concept of engagement as a meaningful goal in business development. I believe that a company that provides authentic engagement will grow in value. The brand will grow, the quality of the customer experience will grow, the life-time value of the customer to the business will grow.
The question is not if Twitter can do that in and of itself -- but rather what role the twitter platform can play in an overall business development strategy which includes twitter.
I believe that it can.
(Now I admit I still will refer to individuals who spend more than 1 hour on twitter each day a Twit.)
How? these are the ones that are currently working with my clients:
So, the core of your question has to do with how to collect a "community" of followers who are qualified to be prospective "customers" or referral agents. Isn't this similar to the process that any of us go through on the lead management of our respective management of sales and customer relations? We have to cull through thousands of leads to find the few that we can qualify. We develop ways to make that process more effecient. We pay people for culled lists which have been polished and cleaned. We pay even more for lists that have people who have opt-ed in to receive communications from the likes of us.
The process on Twitter does not seem to be significantly different. The blind process of following and responding to followers like picking business cards out of the "free lunch" fishbowl on the counter of the bagel shop. And just as effective.
If you want a group of followers that is meaningfully connected then I would follow the following tips:
Our team is still learning how to use twitter in our B2B market-- but this is what we have learned so far.
More importantly than almost any of this -- is that if I read the profile of the person who asks this question properly -- then I know that they are launching a product into the social media space. In order to authentically position themselves as having value or expertise in that space, i think they need to be experienced using the common platforms in that market -- and that despite any of us "older folks" misgivings -- that includes Twitter.