15 ways to use Twitter to toast your competition

There are lots of success stories and case studies documenting business success through Twitter. Here are a few of my favorite ways to leverage this platform for new business benefits.

1) Using Twitter search and other simple listening tools, monitor real time conversations about your brand that can assist your marketing and management teams in seeing what is really being about your company today. There are a variety of free and effective “listening” tools available to allow you to save searches such as Tweetdeck and HootSuite. One heating and air conditioning company had their best year ever simply by monitoring tweets about broken home systems and offering their prompt help.

2) Customer service is a popular use of Twitter by many companies and other organizations. There are many well-documented best practices you can find by doing an Internet search on the topic. When people are “calling you” on Twitter, are you picking up the phone?

3) Offer helpful links and headlines that can drive traffic to your website, blog, landing pages, YouTube channels. Facebook, etc. Despite the social media hype, your website is usually the place where you ask for money… or registrations, downloads, or whatever you’re after. Websites are still important in the social information eco-system.

4) Discover consumer problems, product issues, or potentially damaging PR disasters by picking up conversations about your company and responding quickly.  A friend of mine in Canada actually specializes in this — monitoring the social buzz for impending strikes or disturbed company employees.

5) Break through communication barriers with tweets. Having a hard time making that business connection with a new lead through cold calls and email? Try a tweet or direct message. You will not believe how well this works. They may not return your calls but they almost always return tweets! I don’t know the psychology behind this. I only know it works!

6) Run special deals and promotions on Twitter that you can use to drive traffic or move slow-moving stock. If you’ve done a good job surrounding yourself with targeted connections, they should be interested in your specials, right? A local bakery is using this idea to move their products quickly if they’ve baked too much of a certain item that day “come by before 4 p.m. for 2 for-1 coffee cakes.” Hey, coffee cakes would certainly be meaningful content in my estimation! Especially cinnamon.

7) Twitter is an exceptional way to build your personal brand beyond your normal business borders. Even if you hit the speaking tour for a few months, the opportunity for global reach through Twitter probably has more potential … with a lot less wear and tear.

8. Find new business contacts and sales leads through directories such as Twellow and the advanced Twitter search.

9) Pre-populate the business relationship. By following potential customers, you can learn a lot about them, which will help you connect when you meet the person. I once recognized a stranger at a meeting because they looked just like their Twitter picture. When I introduced myself he greeted me like a long-lost brother. He felt he knew me through my Twitter posts. Now, how many cold calls would you have to make to get a reaction like that?

10) Did you know Twitter can help your visibility on search engines such as Google? Just a few years ago, search results would only turn up websites. Now you’re just as likely to get LinkedIn profiles, video and yes, Twitter profiles.

11) Use your tweets as real-time testimonies. Tweets are published and permanent so feel free to use them as marketing tools. An example: One college featured real tweets about their school on an electronic highway billboard (not real-time of course!). A coffee shop featured happy customer tweets on a flat-screen display in their shop.

12) Public validation. As people send nice tweets about you, save them in your “favorite” Twitter function. When you need to pull out some “social validation,” simply direct them to your Twitter page. This is public information for all to see.

13) The PR opportunities are significant. Journalists are extremely active on Twitter, seeking information on leads and sources. You might get some unexpected PR placements if you establish yourself as a voice of authority on Twitter, especially if you combine this with blogging.

14) I love the way businesses are using Tweet-ups networking meetings of Twitter enthusiasts — to effectively promote their organizations. Twitter loyalists love to get together to meet in real life — especially if there is free food involved!  If you have an appropriate meeting space or venue, why not sponsor a Tweet-up to introduce folks to your facility while giving them a friendly place to meet? I think this would be effective for restaurants and clubs, banks, non-profits, schools, health clubs, real estate offices — almost any place with a large meeting space that serves local clients.

15) Twitter is a great way to keep up on the latest news and trends — what if you turned this into a competitive weapon for your entire organization? What would be the implications if your employees had access to real-time news and market information that your competitors don’t have?

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  • Anonymous

    Still frustrated with Twitter? You won’t regret to read “The Tao of Twitter” by Mark! I have become a loyal reader of his blog ever since and I enjoy to come back every day.

    I don’t really remember which blog post encouraged me spontaneously to come up with a book review video;-)
    http://go4bigpoints.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/book-review-the-tao-of-twitter-by-mark-w-schaefer/
    Cheers,Claude

  • I know the psychology behind #5. Perhaps I should write a blog post about this! Interesting stuff 🙂

  • A couple of questions for you. Do you have any secret hints on finding PR opportunities on Twitter? Also, in regards to recognizing someone from their Twit picture, do you think someone should use the same picture across all social media channels? What about in emails?

  • #12 Is a very interesting idea there Mark?
    Especially if you are using one of the sites that collect your tweets like 

    Twylah.com/billy_delaney 

    are amazing for showcasing your content. There is a lot Toa with this product and I am only now getting around to setting out a strategy with it.

    Liked this post a whole lot, something here for everyone, oh! and rereading The Tao of Twitter again.

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  • Stellar list Mark.

    And from a long time direct sales person who has spent days and months cold calling the same person to no avail sometimes. Why they return tweets is quite an interesting observation!

  • Very helpful suggestions. I especially like #12 as a public validation of praise.

  • This remains one of my all-time favorite reviews because you put your heart into this!  Thank you Claude! 

  • Do a guest post  for me!!  That would be a great topic.

  • Some really god questions, especially about the PR opportunities. Would probably make a good blog post in its own right. But let me give you one example of how this works.

    Nearly every TV or print reporter has a social media presence, especially on Twitter. I have made a point of trying to connect with them and get to know them because they are interesting people and you never know when an opportunity might arise to work together on something.

    I have actually become friends with one of the TV anchors this way. She has invited me to her program and i have alerted her to possible news stories. It has been a mutually-beneficial relationship that probably could not have occurred outside of social media.

    In terms of your avatar, I have not seen any research on this but here is my hunch — when I am looking for people on a Twitter or Facebook stream, I find it dis-orienting when people keep changing their photo. A consistent photo is a handy little short-cut to find people and if your goal is to be found, why not make it easy on folks?

    My two cents any way. I had the same Twitter pic for two years and when I changed, people couldn’t find me for awhile! : ) 

  • That is very cool Billy. I am so bad about looking at new things like this (no time) so it is always helpful when people bring some new concepts to my attention. There is a lot of potential in that.  Delighted that you have enjoyed the book! 

  • I heard of a case study where a plant manager and a union chief could not agree to meet but then sat at night chatting on Facebook. Same thing I think. Can’t figure it out completely.

  • Thanks Carolyn!

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  • Love the article title. Twitter is indeed a powerful tool though it also depends on the industry’s climate / adaptability to it. Speaking of the Tao, I’ve been getting personal enquiries about the book. Almost feels like I should start reselling it here haha 😉

  • it’s what this site is all about, being helpful and pointing out the Toa…

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  • Oooh! I would love to know the psychology behind that. I’ve definitely noticed this to be true, but I’m not sure why.

  • Great list, Mark! Businesses often don’t realize just how much is possible through Twitter. This list is certainly helpful in that regard.

    One I would add is hiring and recruiting. I’m seeing more and more companies turn to Twitter to get the word out about job openings. I also have a friend who got her current marketing job all thanks to Twitter. I think this is especially useful for businesses that are looking for someone who is social media savvy.

    I also think Twitter can be a great way to crowd-source certain questions or issues. For instance, it’s the best kind of tech support – realtime and free! 

  • Great List that I’ll be happy to share!
    Just today I had an experience where I phoned our two major Internet/Tv/Telephone providers and had trouble even getting answers from the sales department 🙁
    I had much better help from the @TELUSsupport Twitter account! Some providers simply get it, others don’t

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  • This is a stellar list, reminds me of a number of areas I can use Twitter better. Looking though the list, I must say Twitter’s real time nature is really what separates it as a tool for business intelligence. #4 discovering consumer problems, #13 finding PR opportunities, and #15 keeping up on news and trends — I think these are three things that Twitter does much better than Facebook or Google.

    I like Laura’s point about crowd-sourcing too! Certain questions can get answered really quickly and well on Twitter.

  • C’mon @twitter-24529292:disqus !  Go for it!

  • Yes … you should. : ) 

  • Brilliant points!! You’ve made the next edition!!  Thanks Laura.

  • Well said. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

  • Glad you found the list useful Adam. Always an honor to have you grace the comment section!

  • It really is an incredible experience meeting someone after you’ve met on Twitter, for business and otherwise. Having implemented a few of these tips more than once, I can say each of these tips really do work. I still use LinkedIn, but Twitter is the great equalizer–and thus ice-breaker–of the social media platforms. Fantastic for business relationships.

  • Could not agree more Shakirah.  Great to see you in the comment section again. Thanks!!

  • Awesome!! Thanks! 🙂

  • This list is brilliant. Some things I knew and had forgotten and others are just plain good ideas that I hadn’t thought of at all.

    And just when I think I’ve seen all that’s possible from 140 characters, I hear about two-for-one coffee cakes and I’m reminded of how often it’s the simple ideas that work best. What’s not social about a deal like that? Nothing in my book. Speaking of books, is there a Tao of Twitter Two in the works?

  • I will be working on a second edition of the book over the next few weeks.  It just needs a 2012 nip and tuck : ) 

  • Some seriously good ideas here that I haven’t even thought of. I actually use the Favorite key  as a way of bookmarking tweets i want to return to later. I create a lot of presentations and I often come across tweets with links I want to return to when it’s preso-building time. This post would fit the bill.

    I don’t think you talked about Lists. How about creating a list of “People I like to engage with” to maintain relationships with key influencers and those you like? That way you don’t lose their tweets in the stream as you start to develop a big following. People on Twitter start to take you seriously when you’re still engaging with them weeks down the road rather than as a one-off. Thanks, again for the great ideas! Have used @bufferapp:twitter to tweet it.

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  • Superb comment Michael and I’m proud to be favorited!  : ) 

  • Thanks, Mark. You’ve more than earned it. This is one of those posts that goes the extra mile. You could have stopped at 7, 9 or even 11, but you went to 15. Good going. 

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  • I guess I’m going to have to write an article for Mark about the psychology of social media behaviours. Once explained, it will make complete sense to all of you and believe me…. it’s not that complicated but it IS interesting 🙂

  • It might not be complicated to YOU but I think you overestimeat ME! : )

    I like the fact that the blog community crowd-sourced a guest post!  Great! Thank you.

  • Thank you friend. Nice that you norticed : )

  • Anonymous

    There are still so many folks – particularly small business owners and entrepreneurial leaders who question the value of Twitter.  As a result we’re keeping an ongoing, ever-growing list for clients on new uses for Twitter.  There are several things here that are new – thank you!  One other from personal experience: showcasing work samples.  With the use of photos and videos subtle promotion becomes graphic.  I just commissioned a lovely painting from an artist in another state, whom I’ve never met in person – we are a twitter success story!

  • Hurray for you.  Many consultants and agencies have been buying The Tao of Twitter for customers who don;t understand Twitter, so it might be something to consider. You can read the whole thing in 90 minutes and after the first 20 pages, most people go “Oh wow.” It’s a cheap investment in cultural change!

  • I share every article or blog post that I enjoy through my Twitter account.  Some are relevant to my business or industry and some that are relevant to my personal life.  I am amazed at the wide variety of individuals and companies that find me and follow me just by sharing content.  I enjoy this strategy because it attracts like minded individuals.

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  • That is a smart thing to do Cody. We’re trying to build a network by being human and that involves showing different sides to our humanity.

  • I think the “PR Opportunities” cuts both ways. I get asked to run features, interview folks, etc, by “PR” folks looking to promote their clients. Not so keen on that, to be honest. It’s like they target you on Twitter and then hit you with tweet spam or worse; email spam. 

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  • Keen point Jon.  That constant flow is really wearisome.

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  • Alan Graner

    I use Twitter to access articles I’d never find on my own, then copy them and add to my library. I use them two ways. I email topics I know clients and prospects are interested in to remain top of mind. And I email articles that answer clients’ questions or help solve their problems, which is especially valuable in areas where I personally lack expertise.

  • Great tip Alan. Thanks!

  • “People I like to engage with”. That’s a really good idea. Also, thanks Mark, some great ideas in this article. @yomadic:twitter 

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  • Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

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  • sarahware

    No mention of TweeterSpy.com?!

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