Invite Your Customers Onto Twitter

birds on a wire

Often times, people tell me, “But my customers aren’t ON Twitter.” This is probably true. Twitter still has only 140 million or so users. But that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t invite them onto Twitter as a way to communicate with your business. You might just have to help them out a little bit more than putting “Follow Us On Twitter” on the bottom of your recent marketing materials.

Your Approach to Twitter

First, make sure your approach to Twitter is that you wish to use it to both inform your customers, as well as to engage with them in between purchases. If you’re just going to do A, it’s not very useful. Tweeting out your coupon codes isn’t going to show you a huge return on effort. Keeping people interested in what you’re saying and showing them that you’re interested in what they’re saying will keep you top of mind, which translates much better into future business and repeat business, plus referrals.

Make your account a picture of you or of whoever’s going to do the tweeting. If you MUST have a logo, have the logo be a little badge in the lower third of the avatar picture. We’re shooting for a human connection here. People don’t form connections with logos (though they can be brand enthusiasts).

What you’re going to talk about is kind of a recipe. You talk about 50% of the time about them, your customers. You interact with them. You cheer their victories. You mention which song they talked about and that you like it or don’t. 50% is about them. 25% is about stuff pertaining to others that might be interesting to them. If your customers are runners, you point out interesting races, or new technology that you’re not selling, or new techniques. The last 25% can be about you, but hopefully, you’ll think in terms of how you equip them. How can the information you provide, even if it’s selling something, equip them to do better? That’s the big goal.

How To Invite Them

There are two ways people can participate with you on Twitter. One is very passive, and it might just be that your customers only want that. In this case, you can just explain that you use Twitter to share useful information to their interests, and that you also share company news on Twitter. You provide them the full URL of your Twitter account: http://twitter.com/youramazingbusiness . In this case, you’re presuming that your customers don’t really want all the interaction we talked about above, but that they can still benefit from your updates.

In the second, you help walk them into starting their own Twitter account. It’s not that hard to explain to people. You show them how to sign up at Twitter.com. You can explain that there are all kinds of interesting people to follow on Twitter. (A great service for finding people to follow is Listorious.) Show them the FUN part of using Twitter. Do your customers like Lada Gaga? Then show them where to find her. Are they into politics? Show them both sides of the aisle. My dad’s into Poker, so he follows all kinds of professional poker players. It keeps him reading and interacting. You can do the same with your customers.

If you do it the second way, make sure to get their Twitter account names. Add these to your CRM, so that you can contact these folks via Twitter, so that you can add them to your list.

Find Some More People on Twitter

If your business is location-specific, go to http://search.twitter.com and put in the various ways people talk about your location. For instance, Milwaukee people often also say MKE when talking about their city. Make sure your search says “Milwaukee OR MKE” to find everyone talking. From that, pluck out the people who might also be useful to follow as prospective customers.

You can do the same with search terms for what your business does. Do you sell plumbing supplies? Look for people talking about construction, building, architecture, etc. It’s slow going. No one will tell you otherwise. But there’s some opportunity in doing this legwork, at least to get a base going. Then, when you’ve started even a small community of people to follow and interact with, some organic growth will happen.

Twitter Isn’t a Chore

Twitter’s something you can fit into your business in between other things you’re doing. You don’t have to schedule off Twitter time. You just have to get into the habit of finding a little moment to add something to your stream. It gets to be a simple habit over time. It comes effortlessly, once you get the sense that people are listening (even sometimes) and that you’re adding some value.

Any Questions?

If I’ve left something out about the concept, here’s your chance to ask. And others, maybe you can add your experiences in doing this for your own business? Tell us the good and the bad. Fair?

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  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    As someone who tries to implement quick “training” into the various social icons on a biz site, I was thrilled to see your post on this. The majority simply make the assumption people know about it and just choose not to have an account. When, in my experience, many customers simply don’t understand what Twitter is.

  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    As someone who tries to implement quick “training” into the various social icons on a biz site, I was thrilled to see your post on this. The majority simply make the assumption people know about it and just choose not to have an account. When, in my experience, many customers simply don’t understand what Twitter is.

  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    As someone who tries to implement quick “training” into the various social icons on a biz site, I was thrilled to see your post on this. The majority simply make the assumption people know about it and just choose not to have an account. When, in my experience, many customers simply don’t understand what Twitter is.

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    I have to agree with you on not making Twitter a Chore. About two years ago I was trying to convince a possible client on the use of Twitter. His Public Relations team wanted to make it a shore with tasks and everything.

    Since he was a celebrity chef and very unique already on twitter I wanted him to continue to be himself. While being himself he was able to connect with many patrons who visited his restaurant bought his books. When he started looking at it as a chore the whole effort took a dive and never recovered.

    You need to bring your customers in and make sure to give that human touch.

    Also adding name to DM on the end or initials helps people define who is talking on the other side.

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    I have to agree with you on not making Twitter a Chore. About two years ago I was trying to convince a possible client on the use of Twitter. His Public Relations team wanted to make it a shore with tasks and everything.

    Since he was a celebrity chef and very unique already on twitter I wanted him to continue to be himself. While being himself he was able to connect with many patrons who visited his restaurant bought his books. When he started looking at it as a chore the whole effort took a dive and never recovered.

    You need to bring your customers in and make sure to give that human touch.

    Also adding name to DM on the end or initials helps people define who is talking on the other side.

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    I have to agree with you on not making Twitter a Chore. About two years ago I was trying to convince a possible client on the use of Twitter. His Public Relations team wanted to make it a shore with tasks and everything.

    Since he was a celebrity chef and very unique already on twitter I wanted him to continue to be himself. While being himself he was able to connect with many patrons who visited his restaurant bought his books. When he started looking at it as a chore the whole effort took a dive and never recovered.

    You need to bring your customers in and make sure to give that human touch.

    Also adding name to DM on the end or initials helps people define who is talking on the other side.

  • Cheryl Smithem

    Thanks, Chris! Great way to help people see that they can “grow their own” Twitter community and not wait for their customers to “get on Twitter.” Your formula is most helpful to people who wonder what to Tweet about and how to interact.

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  • http://www.vmrcommunications.com Hugh Macken

    Terrific post, @chrisbrogan. This hits the nail on the head for where a lot of small businesses and non profits are at right now. It’s nice to talk theory. far better to give practical tips. And that’s what you’ve done here. I’m guessing @spectra_group will find this to be of interest too.

  • http://www.jonathanvaudreuil.com/ Jonathan Vaudreuil

    I spoke with someone the other day who said I needed to label everything on my business card. Why? He didn’t know what Twitter was, and my handle confused him. It’s used by more people than LinkedIn and yet it’s still not accepted by a lot of people.

    I think this post is the right idea. Let’s invite other people onto Twitter, let’s show them how they can get something from it right away, and let’s keep growing it.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Much as WE all use it, Twitter’s still not exactly the mainstream. Feels that way when I see every news show putting up tweets on their segments, but hey. We still have a ways to go.

  • Anonymous

    Chris, I do like Twitter and found that it’s a great source of traffic for my site. However, I’ve struggled to develop a strategy in terms of what I’m using it for. I try to tweet helpful content from other people’s blogs, I tweet my own content and occasionally something fun, like a quote or inspirational idea. I’m trying to systemise my approach at t the moment.

    One thing that i have found useful is my local Chamber of trade have a linkedin Group and someone set up a discussion of what’s your twitter name. Lots and lots of people have added thier user ID’s which are all in my catchment area. Maybe your readers could do that too?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      I think that’s a great thing for local businesses, or for verticals of interest. Putting that kind of pool together really speeds things up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10618874 Chase Sherman

    Chris, what’s your position on quoting experts in the field, tagging them in the post, and attaching a link to the article you found it from (i.e. their blog)? We’ve started to do this but until we see some response, it’s like we’re shooting in the dark… Our thought was that if we republish their content, they’d appreciate it (and our followers would too). Ultimately, we just don’t want to *piss* them off. Any thoughts?

    • http://www.breakbumper.tv Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

      I am not @chrisbrogan:twitter :-) but it has been my experience that both brands and individuals like it when you link back to an interesting post or relevant information. It’s great for SEO. Hopefully, the brand or individual will repay the favor. Customers will also find the sharing of information useful and will appreciate that you are not always promoting your brand — authenticity.

      I would simply like to temper my statements by explaining that it’s equally important to promote your main digital property. You want as many eyeballs on your property as possible.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      You mean republishing blog posts with attribution? It’s fine, but it’s nicer to add some comments and point back to the original. Does that make sense? Unless I’ve got it wrong.

  • http://frugallysavvy.com Frugally Savvy

    Most small businesses are taking advantage of the social outlets to build a better relationship with their customers

  • http://www.breakbumper.tv Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

    @chrisbrogan:twitter a good post and I love the second option — helping your customers become part of Twitter. That is rather brilliant. I can see a blog post or better yet a video post that explains what Twitter is and how it can be used to improve your experience. I agree that sharing relevant information and engaging with your customers is highly important.

    I would also amend your statement on marketing your company 25% of the time. I would amend that by saying that every effort should be made to bring your customer to the main digital property, i.e. Facebook or the company blog. Either of these two platforms offer a great breadth of information and engagement.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      I agree, Ramon, on bringing people back to the mothership. Definitely an important part of the relationship-building.

  • http://www.writetoincite.com Michele Dortch

    Love, love, love this post @chrisbrogan:twitter!

    Part of engaging a client is educating them on things that will bring them added value. Being a part of Twitter can add value to your client relationship, but the gravy is the value your clients receive from being a part of a rich, informative online community.

    And I love the idea of showing clients the ropes instead of offering a passive, “Follow me on Twitter,” invite. It’s just one more way we can better serve our clients. Good stuff!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Thanks, Michele. That was my biggest point. We can’t stop at “follow me.” That has to be the first 1/3 of what we do with it.

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  • http://www.realestateactive.com Jeff Bridges

    This is one of a great posts I have read on the internet, its pretty cool to think that there are people like Chris who is willing to impart such important as well as educating ideas for free. Rock on brother! Nice one…

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Don’t worry, Jeff. I charge for other things. : )

      • http://www.realestateactive.com Jeff Bridges

        LOL

    • http://www.joshchandler.me Josh Chandler

      Jeff, 

      Let’s hope Chris doesn’t figure this out, oh wait a minute… :) 

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  • http://tintation.com Vladimir

    I now realized how much more the twitter can be more important…

    Thanks for the article :)

  • http://twitter.com/judygi Judy Gillespie

    Thanks Chris – great advice. I think many people are a bit scared of Twitter – especially in more conservative industries. Many people are surprised that much of the interesting information I come across is from Twitter & often comment “But I thought Twitter just had boring stuff about what people had for breakfast?”. I usually comment that I don’t follow those people – it’s like TV – you are in control over what you watch!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Totally true, Judy. It’s what you put on the channel that matters. : )

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  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

    Thanks Chris for this great post. Twitter has become a part of Social Media Marketing and its image is changed from a boring social media site.

    Shilpi
    Singha Roy

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Happy to help. : )

  • http://twitter.com/gskegley Grant Kegley

    I find that on my own twitter account (@gskegley), I can share news, thoughts, and just be “me”. I feel more restricted when tweeting on my company twitter account. I’ve wrestled with the thought of just using my personal account to interact with customers, but that doesn’t seem to make good “branding” sense.

    • http://www.joshchandler.me Josh Chandler

      Grant,

      Tell Craig Newmark (@craignewmark) that you don’t think a personal account for customers makes sense. :)

  • http://twitter.com/LeoWid Leo Widrich

    Great post Chris, love your connection of the “why” with the “how”, makes it a lot easier for me to understand. First thing I will do is change the Twitter avatar. One problem is that we are 2 people tweeting. I was thinking obviously a pic of us two might be good, together with the logo in the corner. What do you think?

    Also love the last part that you should try fitting Twitter in wherever you can, makes it way more fun and natural.

    • http://www.joshchandler.me Josh Chandler

      Leo,

      My personal thought on that is that you should include initials of each person’s name. For example, I would put ^JC at the end of a tweet to identify it was me.

      Like, I do it on @joshdigidivide (as an example)

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Really helpful tips here, Chris – I love that you said Twitter isn’t a chore. I think a LOT of people see it like that.

  • Anonymous
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  • Jen

    This is a great post. We’ve also found that following every customer you have is also an easy way to stay up to date on things, as is giving the occasional shout-out to referenceable customers in a meaningful way.

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  • http://mymediainfo.com/ Renee

    Well said Chris. Twitter is fairly new, so it is important to remember that there is a learning curve still in effect for some people. This said, I think the popularity of twitter will only increase once more and more people realize what a great tool it can be, rather than just a place where people go to tell others what they’re doing all the time.

  • http://twitter.com/Chris_Eh_Young Chris Eh Young

     Perfect summary. Simple, straightforward, and effective.

  • http://twitter.com/katiedel katiedel

     This is a great post that addresses most of the main concerns people like my parents have — running a home healthcare co (with an audience that COULD benefit greatly from shared info & communications through Twitter, but don’t exactly know that yet). I particularly like your point that Twitter is NOT a chore :)

  • Ann Rimmer

    Some great tips here, particularly worth noting for b2b companies is to remember the ENGAGE bit. Agree monitoring is time consuming but it does pay off, not least to understand what people are talking about relating to your products or services. I also found it hard at first to talk personally about stuff, thinking no one would be interested but they are, we’re humans as well as business people and are naturally nosey

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    Twitter is a good social networking site. It is good to invite our customers on Twitter. It is a good place for promote your business on twitter. 

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    The particularly worth noting for b2b companies is to remember the ENGAGE bit.

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