Marketing Bootcamp

5 Steps to Harnessing the Power of Twitter

5 Steps to Harnessing the Power of Twitter
Image credit: Twitter

In his book Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, Mitch Myerson introduces you to 22 innovators who have redefined the developing landscape of online marketing. Learn how to master proven strategies, avoid costly mistakes and grow your business. In this edited excerpt, contributing author Kim Garst lays the groundwork with a four-step process that help you become a Twitter pro.

Twitter is the fastest growing of the top-tier social networks. But from a business standpoint, it's the most undervalued, misunderstood, and underutilized of all the major social media sites. Many marketers just don't understand or know how to harness its power.

Can I make a guess? At least half of you reading this either hate, loathe, or reluctantly tolerate Twitter. But you'll start loving Twitter when you realize it's not a place to talk but a place to listen and really communicate. If you're ready to make a serious commitment to harnessing Twitter's power and want to build a strong, large, valuable Twitter following fast, take the following steps.

1. Start with strategy.

Answers to these questions are critical components of a Twitter strategy:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with Twitter?
  • What's the “value” you bring to the conversation?
  • What types of people do you want to connect with?
  • How do you feature your products and services without being pushy?
  • What's your plan for eventually moving people off of Twitter and to other places (like your email list, Facebook page, telephone, Skype) to deepen the relationship?
  • What resources are you prepared to commit to building a successful presence?
  • What tools will you use to measure success?

Twitter without strategy equals failure. I see it all the time.

2. Learn the basics and build a strong page.

Know what a hashtag is, why it's important and how to use one. Invest in a quality, branded Twitter skin and profile photo. Understand your privacy and security settings, understand Twitter’s basic terms of service, learn basic “Twitter-speak,”and  know the difference between an @mention and a direct message. Understand retweeting and why following back is important. Above all, optimize your profile. That means building out a strong profile, adding links, and including the proper keywords.

3. Look, listen, observe, search, and follow.

Twitter has more than half a billion users. Over half of those are active users, and they're tweeting on just about every topic under the sun. As in the real world, in each market niche, there are already established thought leaders and experts. Use Twitter search and advanced search to find the people and topics that are important and related to your niche or market space. Once you find them, watch the conversations and observe the leaders and key players. Pick up on the general tone, subject matter, and topics being covered. When you feel comfortable, start following these people. As you follow them also add them to a Twitter “list.” A Twitter list is simply a sorting mechanism created by Twitter that allows you to follow all of the tweets from your selected group of people in a single stream. You can have multiple “groups” of people sorted in whatever fashion you choose on separate lists.

The goal of this step is to become a part of the existing Twitter sub-community that revolves around your business in a very nonobtrusive way. Imagine a real-world situation where you were the outsider in an already established community. How would you act? You probably wouldn't come in acting like the big shot, offending the established leaders and pushing what you had to sell. It is the same way on Twitter.

4. Contribute, add value, support, and participate.

So far you've established a credible Twitter page, learned the operational basics, lingo, and rules, and very quietly inserted yourself into not just any community, but the right Twitter community and shown deference to the established leaders. Now, start having conversations. Don't rule every topic. Just add when you have a good point, question, or can add something of value. When you see something you like from another member, retweet it or send them a message. When you see great content from another source, don't be afraid to share it. Always give credit where credit is due and be polite. Continue to follow people who you find interesting, valuable, or important in your niche.

If you do all of this, people will reach out for your advice. They'll retweet your tweets and pass along your content. Most importantly, they'll follow you once they realize you're important to them and already follow them.

5. Execute, build relationships, and scale.

With the above completed, you're ready to scale and begin executing the components of your Twitter marketing strategy. Want to be the top social media blogger in the world? Develop great content, be consistent, provide value, and use a link to every blog post you write with a cleverly written tweet.Want to drive traffic to your website? Want to increase your Facebook page likes, or promote a contest? You can do it all with Twitter.

But don't forget for one second that Twitter is a place where people choose to have conversations with you and be part of your community. Skip the relationship-building piece and fall back into your “push” marketing mentality, and you'll watch your community leave you for greener pastures. Stay authentic, keep it real, provide value, and value relationships, and you'll start achieving the goals you set in your Twitter strategy.