Lead generation techniques have evolved massively in recent years and this has been driven by two key factors: advances in technology and changes in buyer and consumer behavior.
Social media is one area that has experienced substantial growth, with sites such as Facebook going from zero to a staggering 1.5 billion users worldwide, in just 13 years.
Twitter remains one of the more popular sites and by the end of 2016, the platform reportedly had over 317 million active users.
Key Twitter facts & figures
- Around 6k tweets are sent every second – that’s over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year
- The countries with the highest number of Twitter users are the United States, India, Indonesia, Japan, China, Brazil and the UK
- Over 67% of US companies use Twitter for marketing
Twitter and lead generation
When used to its full potential, Twitter can be a powerful and highly effective lead generation tool for B2B companies. It can help you open new doors, maintain relationships with existing customers and fans of the brand, and offer a direct channel by which you can communicate with target prospects and your extended audience.
You need to ensure you are both ready and able to put the work in that it will take to be successful. The good news is, thousands of business of all shapes and sizes are living examples that it can work if you stick at it and follow a solid strategy.
Just remember, Twitter should never be seen as a direct sales tool. The clue is in the title ‘social media’. When you consider it, you should be thinking about relationships – being social, being part of the conversation, having personality and knowing who you’re talking to and what they’ll be interested to hear.
You may get lucky and get in front of the right person at exactly the right moment, landing yourself a new customer – it does happen – but that would always be a happy accident. What you should instead be concentrating on is forming a strategy that will help you start relationships and begin generating leads that way.
A solid strategy is key to success
The best B2B marketing strategies will always be ones that have been devised by teams coming together to pool their knowledge and insights, and agreeing on a common goal.
Try to get your marketing, sales and customer services teams to sit down together to discuss the ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’, so everyone knows exactly what’s going to happen. Importantly, they will also know where they, and others, fit in to the bigger picture.
To the outside world, whether someone receives a response on Twitter, calls customer services, or speaks with a sales rep, it’s all just one company. Those companies who offer the best customer experiences recognize this and are consistent.
Where should you start when it comes to generating leads through Twitter?
The first step to figuring out your Twitter strategy should be to check if any of your existing clients use the platform. See whether the individuals themselves do, as well as the brands and companies. (If you are using a sophisticated marketing automation tool this might be easy to do within your tool.)
You also need to check whether your potential prospects are on there and other general influencers within your industry, for example, journalists who may specialize in your field.
If the answer to these questions is yes, then it’s probably time to get in on the action.
Engage and entertain
To use Twitter as a lead generation tool, you need to forget you want leads. Instead, focus on entertaining and engaging with your audience. It’s like walking into a room of people you don’t know – if all that comes out of your mouth is stuff about your company and other sales spiel, no one is going to want to speak with you for very long. They may, in fact, be advised by others to avoid you all together!
Through Twitter, users will get a feel for you as a company, how you communicate and what it may be like to work with you. If they are met by a friendly, interesting and helpful Twitter brand handle, then they may be intrigued and check you out further, such as by visiting your website.
But if all you do is talk about how great your products are, or you come across as fake or robotic, then nobody will warm to you and you won’t generate any leads. It’s simple – people respond to people and do not want to be sold to. Twitter is an engagement tool and something you can use to get the conversation started.
As well as developing a strategy for your general use of Twitter (i.e. how you will use it on a daily basis), think about specific lead generation campaigns you could also run, which need to have their own content and advertising budget.
- Don’t expect immediate results, you’ll need to build up your profile and gain momentum over time. The key is to post regularly and be consistent.
- Your Twitter biography is really important, so spend time getting it right. How you describe yourself (and remember you are very limited on characters here too) will give a strong impression to any potential leads.
- Think about the imagery you will use, for your profile page and also in the tweets you send out. Every element of your bio and newsfeed says something about you. Tweets with pictures achieve much higher engagement.
- Don’t use your website homepage as a catchall for any traffic you generate. Instead, include a link in your profile that will take visitors to a specific Twitter hello and welcome page, where they’ll be met with a well written call to action.
- Be human. Social media isn’t the place to be a faceless corporate. People respond to people, and can spot a phony a mile off.
Who will manage Twitter for your brand/company?
If you’re serious about using Twitter for lead generation, then the question of who will manage the platform is an important one.
In the past, many brands made the mistake of handing this task over to an intern, or office junior. However, since the power of social media has been fully recognized and the number of users has grown astronomically, this is no longer seen as a good move.
Interns are unlikely to be seasoned communicators and won’t know or fully understand the brand and associated issues. When you think of it like that, it quickly becomes obvious why they shouldn’t be the person tasked with a direct line to new and existing prospects.
The person managing Twitter needs to:
- Understand the brand and company processes inside out
- Be a strong communicator, who knows how to engage with prospects, clients and influencers alike
- Be somebody who naturally likes to help
- Have strong attention to detail (spelling mistakes and broken links matter!)
- Be trusted, responsible and able to act on their own initiative
Outsourcing to an expert is another option that can work well, but which also has its own drawbacks. Check out our blog ‘Should you outsource your social media management’ for more food for thought on this issue.
The approval chain and sign offs
It is worth mentioning here that whoever is managing your Twitter account needs to have the power to be able to solve any issues straightaway. They need to know and understand company procedures, as well as who needs to be contacted about which issues.
It makes no sense nowadays to have every tweet signed off before it is posted. This just slows everything down and loses the conversational power of Twitter. It is much more effective to put someone in charge of your tweets who is highly capable and can think on their feet to make good and sound decisions.
Tweets have a very short shelf live (often just a couple of minutes, at most an hour or two). Of course, you get the occasional ones that last much longer and no amount of deleting will help! Once tweeted, you can bet that if it is sensitive material or was a mistake, that someone, somewhere will have taken a screenshot.
Which is yet another reason why you need a capable person in charge.
Once you’ve set up your profile, you need to start generating followers. Taking a scattergun approach that aims at everyone in the hope of getting a few of the right people, will bring you poor results and isn’t a great use of your time – that goes for any type of marketing you do. So, rather than aiming broad, try and be highly targeted.
Numbers aren’t everything. Getting the highest number of followers you can may seem like a good goal to aim for and a helpful KPI to look at, but there’s no point going for high figures for the sake of it. Having a million of the wrong type of followers won’t help you, whereas a handful of the right kind can prove incredibly valuable.
Growing your follower numbers
So, how do you grow your follower numbers and find the right kind of people?
1 – Tweet sharable content
Key to getting followers and growing your following, is what you are saying. Aim to always tweet sharable content. That mean tweets that tick one or all of the following boxes: inspirational, informative, educational, entertaining.
2 – Follow people with aligned interests
Who you follow says something about you, just as the people following you also adds to the overall impression you give. By following target people and interacting with them, such as by retweeting them or mentioning them in your own tweets, you can encourage a follow back.
3 – See who others are following
In the same way, spot interesting people by looking at those who others are following, or who are following a key industry publication/journalist.
4 – Search for keywords and check bios
You can also search for keywords that will help you find relevant people to follow and start interacting with, based on what they’re talking about, or things like job title, company name and industry buzzwords.
Making use of lists
Lists are key to growing a relevant Twitter following. They are basically a way for you to segment users, in a way that makes sense for you.
For example, have a private list for:
- potential clients
- existing clients
- media people
As part of your daily routine, go through these lists to check for any interesting content and conversations, then get stuck in – retweet, respond and get active.
There are loads of other useful tools that can help you manage Twitter and your social media sites, with many being free at entry level. And don’t forget to also check out your marketing automation tool for its Twitter management capabilities.
When to tweet
The number of times you tweet per day is another key decision. The more you tweet the more interaction you will get, but the more time it will take.
As a rough guide, according to Social Media Week, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday are the best days for posting and around 3-5 tweets per day is the magic number (excluding any responses and interaction you may get involved in).
What to tweet
When it comes to the content of those tweets, there are some common traps to avoid.
First mistake – Twitter is not about you! You need to find a ratio of around 20% being about you and the rest about other people
Second mistake – It’s not just an outlet by which you can share your press releases. Yes, it can be used for that, but it needs to be far more than a company newswire
Third mistake – Think we’ve mentioned this one before – it’s not for selling!
If we return to the example of walking into a room of strangers. Think about how you can go about starting conversations, joining in other people’s conversations and building relationships? Your aim should be to engage, inform and entertain before you ever think about selling.
Getting started – a daily checklist
So, what may a typical day using Twitter look like? To help you, here’s a handy checklist.
- Check for any mentions or messages and respond quickly
- Monitor relevant topics
- Check trending hashtags
- Retweet and add to any relevant conversations (with substance, not self-promotion)
- Look for ways you can help
- Tweet about all sorts of topics. Aim for a 30 / 60 / 10 mix of owned content, curated content and promotional content. This may include:
- share comments
- share your own articles
- share interesting articles you find written by others
Don’t forget about your analytics
To fully understand what’s working and what’s not, you need to pay attention to your analytics. Again, there are tools you can get in which will help you with this, but the best place to start is the free analytics available through Twitter itself.
Check each tweet for the reach and engagement it generated. Take notes and try to pinpoint what works best, then refine the process and try some new things out. What you really want to know is what your target audience reacts best to.
Lead generation Twitter campaigns
When it comes to specific Twitter campaigns you can run to drive lead generation, there are many routes you can take. Here are two of the most popular.
You can host a twitter chat, which is basically where users will meet at a pre-determined time to discuss a certain topic, using a designated hashtag for each tweet contributed.
Twitter offers many different options for advertisers, from plain text through to all singing, all dancing tweets that include images and video. Check out this blog for more advice on using ads for lead generation.
Make the most of advertising
Targeted ads can help enhance your activity and campaigns, but again need some thought.
Use advanced targeting – Make the most of the advanced targeting options, to get your ad in front of the right people.
Think about your ad design & format – The most effective ads for clicks/conversion don’t look like ads at all! Using an image will also get you better results.
Set up conversion tracking – If you run a simple lead generation ad that directs people to the landing page of an e-book, then put tracking code on the thank you page for that e-book, so you know exactly how many people converted via your Twitter ad.
And for any lead you generate, it goes without saying, you need to follow up – and quick! Make it something unique and tailored to the individual and know the path you are then aiming to guide them along.
One thing is clear, in today’s sales landscape, social selling is now a core part of the game. If your target audience can be found on Twitter, then you should be there too. Otherwise, you could be missing a trick.
Even if you’re not on there, people will still be talking about you. So, have a presence, spread your own positive messages and make the most of any opportunities that arise. Use specific campaigns designed to encourage people to share their email address with you and boost what you’re doing through paid-for ads.
Above all, have a clear strategy and make sure you dedicate the amount of time it needs to do it well. With this winning combination and a clear focus, your Twitter could soon we working hard generating leads for you.