How to Win Customers and Gain Influence through Content Marketing on Twitter

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You can use your  content in relevant ways to win customers and influence on Twitter. Here’s a five-step program for Twitter content marketing success.

Step 1: Spruce Up Your Twitter Profile

Your profile is your “store window.” On Twitter you have only a few seconds to convince visitors that you’re worth connecting with. People like to connect with others who have something in common with them, so use your profile to get that message across.

Here are the key parts to focus on:

  • Header photo – Use your header photo to show a bit about what you are offering. Do you offer products or services? If so, what are they? Are you a professional in a particular field? Use graphics and text to provide a few details. And please, don’t use a generic stock photo. If you don’t have a graphic artist on hand, use a tool like Canva to brand your picture. You can even include an offer for a key piece of content in your graphic. Go crazy!
  • Profile photo – If you are an individual, include a photo of yourself. Feel free to make it professional or goofy, depending on what kind of image you want to project. No matter what you do, however, please include a clear shot of your face to help people relate to and connect with you. If you are a business and want to use your logo that’s fine. You can compensate by letting people know who is writing your Tweets – and then put a face to that individual’s profile.
  • Profile description – Here’s where you can add your first link to content. Make sure the piece you offer provides a good representation of what your organization or business offers and what you Tweet about. In your description, you should also add a note as to who is doing the Tweeting (the last is more important if your profile represents a business rather than an individual), as well as relevant hashtags to make your profile more search friendly.

Don’t be afraid to update your profile now and then to reflect changes in your business and/or interests. Just make sure the photos and descriptions will let you make a good first impression.

Step 2: Discover Your Audience

Once your profile is complete, you’re ready to go! It’s fine to use Twitter as a means to broadcast your own material. For example, you can Tweet out links to blog posts, eBooks, new articles, press releases, and more. Even better, develop a content marketing calendar to schedule relevant posts throughout the year.

However, please oh please do not stop there. Don’t miss out on the real power of Twitter: conversation. After all, that’s what makes social media social!

Before you jump into conversation, you need to find an audience for whom your message will resonate. Here are some tips for discovering your audience:

  • Pay attention to bios – Just as your profile description is important, so is your target audience’s. Search for keywords that are relevant to your area of interest or expertise. Reach out to the people whose bios contain those words. If you’re looking for an automated method for accomplishing this, try using Socedo to help you run a targeted content marketing campaign. Socedo allows you to reach out to relevant people via direct message and offer a personalized message containing piece of content that will fit their bio description. It’s like an email campaign, only you’re using social media instead.
  • Use the # – Pay attention to the hashtags people use in their conversations and profiles. Just as you used hashtags in the step above to indicate to others where your interests lie, so others will use hashtags to broadcast the same to you. Once you’ve found people using the hashtags you want to focus on, offer them a piece of content that’s related to that tag. You can search for specific hashtags using the Twitter “search” functionality. You can also use tools like Insightpool to help you use appropriate hashtags and keywords to start relevant conversations. Insightpool provides you with options to vary your outreach, make it conversational, and offer relevant content to people using the hashtags you want to focus on.
  • Check out Twitter Chats – Twitter chats are the “pro” version of using hashtags. In a Tweet Chat, people use a hashtag to allow you to follow a group conversation about a particular topic. Topics can range from customer service (#custserv is my favorite one) to parenting (try #DadChat) to anything in between. Want to learn to handle Tweet Chats like a pro? Check out Neal Schaffer’s awesome article on the subject of Twitter Chats. One thing to remember about Tweet Chats, however, is that most of the time marketing content can only be inserted at the end of the hour. So, for example, during the last 5 minutes of #custserv, you can offer up a piece of content around customer service. If you don’t want to wait until the end of the hour, you can use the Tweet Chat hashtag during a time when the actual chat itself isn’t going on (for example, during another day of the week). That way, when people search for the chat hashtag they will see your content, but you won’t earn the displeasure of those participating in the chat itself.

Step 3: Make it Personal

More important than the number of followers you gain is the volume of interactions you have with relevant people. That’s how you stand out from the fire hose stream of updates. If you are going to gain influence and customers via Twitter, you have to engage with the folks around you.

Here are some actions you can take to instantly draw people into conversations:

  • Use the @ – You want to show up in people’s notifications. Use their handle to catch their attention and include their real name (not always the same as the handle) in your Tweet.
  • Read their bios – Find something interesting in a person’s bio and comment on it. Point out something cool in their profile picture. Show that you really paid attention to who they are as an individual. A genuine compliment goes a long way.
  • Be grateful – If someone follows, don’t just follow them back. Say thank you. If you can’t send a personal message to everyone because of time restraints, at least send one to people who are relevant and/or go out of their way to interact with you (e.g., retweets, mentions, etc.). And I do mean it when I say “personal”. A canned direct message doesn’t cut it and is often a turnoff. That means if you want to use an outreach tool like commun.it, don’t just use the free version. The fact that the company includes its tag on every post makes it obvious you’re sending the same message you’ve sent to tons of other folks.
  • Listen – Monitor social conversations and respond appropriately. There are a number of social media monitoring tools available to help you in that effort.
  • Be you – The more human you are, the stronger your responses will resonate with others. Gentle humor, insightful comments, genuine compliments, and a sense of fun will go a long way. Pretend you are having a conversation with someone sitting next to you. Type out the answers you would say if you were conversing IRL (i.e., in real life).

Once you’ve developed a relationship, it becomes all the easier to insert your content marketing material into the conversation. If you get to know your audience, you can offer content that is interesting, relevant, and tantalizing instead of spammy and totally off topic.

Step 4: Make it Relevant

Ever had a conversation with someone who can’t seem to follow a logical train of thought?  Or someone who just talks about himself or herself? Let’s avoid those issues, shall we?

It’s not hard to make your conversation relevant and useful if you follow these tips:

  • Read your links – If you are offering curated content, that’s great. HootSuite and other tools will provide you with suggested content. It’s a great feature and huge time saver. That said, if you are sharing a link to an article you didn’t write, at least skim the article end-to-end. Make sure it’s relevant and will provide the right tone to support your brand.
  • Read their Tweets – Don’t just read isolated Tweets and respond with a piece of content. If you really want to connect with someone via Twitter, take a look at their profile and read several of their Tweets. Then join in the conversation once you understand the context of what the person is saying and when you get to the point where you’re ready to offer content, be sure it make sense within the conversation.
  • Provide value – For instance, if you want to share a piece of content you’ve written, you can reach out to a person and say, “I see from your profile you like so-and-so. Here’s an eBook/blog post that could help you out.” Follow up later to see what the person thought of the offering. You can even do that by suggesting an article you didn’t write or a tool you didn’t create. That shows you are able to be a good resource even when you’re not directly selling something.

The more relevant you are, the more interesting you become. Not only that, but word gets around on Twitter. If you want to be mentioned in a #FollowFriday or even an article about great people to follow on Twitter, make your conversation a must-read.

Step 5: Be Consistent

To win on Twitter (as with most things), you have to show up. If you’re only active now and then, you will never reach your true potential.

Both online and off, relationships need to be nurtured. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be available 24/7. What it does mean, however, is that you have to be consistently available.

Even if you choose to be online only three times a week, make sure you are really on during those three times. If you can’t respond to someone during that time period (for example, if you’re on vacation) when you can respond, apologize for being a bit late on the response.

The more reliable and available you are, the more opportunities you will have to strengthen relationships and win customers and influence on Twitter. Pretty soon you’ll be able to mix conversations with content marketing with ease.

Go forth and Tweet! Have anything you’d like to add to the discussion? Leave me a comment below or Tweet me up at @HollyChessman!

Holly Chessman  is the Vice President of Marketing for Glance Networks. Named one of New England’s Top 40 Influencers in Content and Digital Marketing.
This originally was published in  maximizesocialbusiness.com
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