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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