It can be awkward to introduce yourself to a prospective customer on Twitter.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
On Twitter, millions of people ask for help and advice every day. That’s why Twitter is such a great place to meet new customers.
But Twitter isn’t like LinkedIn, where you connect through people you know.
Twitter functions more like a big business convention, where you share common interests with thousands of people attending the show, but you don’t know most of them. And you aren’t connected with most of them professionally (yet).
Like a big convention, there’s a lot of noise on Twitter. And way too many people to talk to.
So how do you prospect on Twitter?
Well, first you need to find the few good prospects to connect with. This is where search tools like NeedTagger, HootSuite and Twitter Advanced Search can help.
After you find them, introducing yourself is the next step. That’s what this post is about.
But there’s a lot of room for misunderstanding in a 140-character message.
You need to be careful, too. Twitter will suspend your account if you violate the Twitter Rules.
During the period 2012-2014, my old company Needtagger helped more than 7,000 business owners, sales executives and marketing professionals introduce themselves to sales prospects on Twitter.
The good news is that customer prospecting on Twitter really works.
In this post, we share some of the best and worst types of introductions we’ve seen so far.
No, go out there and make a great first impression!
10 Low-Risk Ways to Introduce Yourself To a Prospect On Twitter
There are at least 10 proven ways to introduce yourself to prospect on Twitter.
As you will see, all are similar to the types of introductions you use today, just adapted for Twitter.
Some of the techniques we’ve seen work well include the following:
1. Ask for their opinion
People love to be asked for their opinion, especially if the request comes from an expert.
The types of questions that make great conversation-starters include:
- “Which would you chooose, A or B?”
- “Where can I learn more?”
- “What do you think about X?”
- “Where did you find that?”
This method usually solicits a live conversation. If you find an opportunity like this, jump on it.
2. Share a link to helpful content
Discovering new content is why many people use Twitter.
If you or your company have created or shared content that might help someone solve a problem, then by all means share it one-on-one with them!
This is one of the best ways to prospect on Twitter.
If you can share you own company’s white paper, video or presentation, then send a link to your company’s lead generation landing page – but tell them this in your tweet, “short signup req’d”.
Another, newer method is to use Twitter’s new Lead Generation Cards (paid ads) to capture contact information without asking them to leave Twitter.
3. Offer your advice
If you don’t have a link to share but can offer a quick answer or piece of advice that could help, then send it. You might be surprised at how grateful people can be on Twitter.
4. Follow them
Following someone is the simplest, lowest-risk way to connect with a prospect on Twitter. It’s the online equivalent of sharing your business card. So make sure your profile includes a way to contact you.
5. Retweet or Favorite their message
This is another low-risk way to engage with a person on Twitter. At the very least, re-tweeting or favoriting a message shows that you share a common interest. Most of the time she will notice your interest, and sometimes she will thank you. There are no technical limits on the number of people you can retweet or favorite each day. However, if you have a large number of active and engaged followers, then you should limit your retweeting to to 20%-30% of your daily posts, or people may start unfollowing you due to a lack of original content.
6. Forward their post to someone who can help
If you know someone else on Twitter who might be able to answer a question or deal with an issue, then by all means forward their message on to that person with a quick “(hope this helps)”.
7. Agree with them
Look for statements that you honestly agree with, then give the author a “high five” by declaring your support for their position.
People love to hear others say, “Exactly!”, “That’s what I thought!” and “You nailed it!”.
But don’t fake it, because you might be asked, “Really? exactly what did you like?”.
8. Correct a factual error
If you see someone post an inaccurate statement or a misconception about your company, don’t argue! But feel free to correct the inaccuracy with facts (preferably in the form of a third-party link). Most people respect a company that listens to and respond to people who talk about their brand.
But never argue in public, it’s always a bad idea.
9. Compliment them (honestly)
This is another no-brainer. People love an honest compliment.
Just make sure you are talking about something that you actually liked, or your compliment could backfire.
10. Address her correctly (using @name)
This one is important.
A lot of people don’t know how to use the @name address correctly on Twitter.
When you begin your tweet with a prospect’s @name, it tells Twitter that only your prospect and your followers should see your tweet.
If you place their @name anywhere else in your tweet, then ALL of your prospect’s followers will see your targeted message, too. This simple mistake can lead to an embarrassing situation – especially when you are trying to help someone resolve a “sensitive” issue.
For real-world examples of these methods in action, check out my Pinterest Gallery.
5 Ways to Make a Bad First Impression – And Get Your Account Suspended
Social feaux pas like the ones listed below will cause you to lose followers and might even get your Twitter account suspended. So whatever you do, avoid making these mistakes:
1. Automate Your Introduction
We all use some automation in social media. But if you care about making a great first impression, then you need to tailor your first message to your prospect’s unique issues, situation, location and language. Automating your introductions can also get your Twitter account suspended or permanently banned.
There are two ways this can happen:
- You may be flagged by your prospects. Most people can smell a bot from a mile away. If too many people flag you as a spammer, your account will be suspended. Twitter doesn’t provide information about who blocked you or how many people flagged, etc. You just get suspended.
- Twitter may flag your account for violating their Terms of Service. The only acceptable way to automate introductions on Twitter is to pay Twitter for advertising (Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, et al). If you use any other service to automatically follow, favorite or send messages to people you don’t know, then you are violating Twitter’s Terms of Service and your account can be suspended, ghost-banned (hidden from search) or banned forever. Twitter continues to crack-down on providers and users of these services.
2. Send an Unsolicited Commercial Offer
There are some exceptions to this (like offering a coupon to a hungry restaurant seeker), but for the most part people don’t like unsolicited offers interrupting their conversations.
3. Brag Excessively
Does this really need explaining? Focus the vast majority of your personal social time on finding problems and on sharing solutions – not on explicit marketing and advertising. That said, it’s totally fine (and smart) to post 1 or 2 messages a day from your account informing people of a new product, blog post or even a special deal.
4. Criticize Your Competitor
Unlike politics, in business attacking your competition won’t get you anywhere – especially in a court of public opinion like Twitter. In fact, you might want to consider complimenting your competitors when they deserve it (just released a new cool feature/product, did something important for a customer, shared a valuable insight, etc.)
5. Send Them a Link to a Signup Form and Describe it as “the help you’re looking for”
This leaves a bad impression, to say the least. It’s amazing to me how many marketers think this practice is OK.
Look, if you are going to send me to content that will help me, then when I land on your page I should see that content (or at least a useful portion of it). If you are going to send me to a form first, then tell me this upfront (“short signup req’d”).
It’s all about being honest and respecting the other person’s time.
You, too, can leverage Twitter to build a low-cost network of prospective customers – as long as you know how to make a good first impression. We hope these tips will help you achieve that.
I am interested in your experiences – leave your comment below.