Every day, your prospective customers are having conversations online, with their own friends, which could lead them to you. The problem is, most businesses aren’t listening to those conversations; often they don’t have any idea how to even find them.
The good news is that by following a few steps to lay the groundwork for your ‘social listening’, businesses can monitor the conversations that are most likely going to provide them opportunities to get in front of their prospects and position themselves for future sales.
The even better news is that your competitors and the organizations you work with may have already done much of the heavy lifting for you.
Getting Started: Twitter Lists
Twitter is a great place to start, because you can follow just about anyone, and there are plenty of directories to help you get started.
Step 1: Plan your strategy.
The problem with most businesses on Twitter is that they have no idea why they are there; they have no purpose aside from ‘my boss/marketing agency/intern said we should have a Twitter presence’.
First, determine what you want to get out of Twitter; who you want to meet and build relationships with. Develop a list of the types of people you want to connect to, and what your reason is for connecting with them.
For example, you may want to follow reporters to learn about stories they are pitching and how you can provide a quote, you may want to follow bloggers to build relationships with them for future guest blogging opportunities, or you may want to follow people who are asking questions that may identify a problem you can solve. An example of this would be a restaurant near the airport in Boston following a stream of people who are using the words ‘Boston’ ‘dinner’ and/or ‘recommendations’ in their tweets.
Step 2: Build the foundation.
Once you know your purpose for following specific types of people you want to connect with on Twitter, it’s time to create your lists. Important: unless you WANT others to be able to find, follow, and share your lists, you should make these lists private. Creating Twitter lists is easy, but if you’ve never done it before, here’s a step-by-step guide!
Step 3: Follow public lists.
Start following public lists that have already been created. To find public lists already created, login into your Twitter account and enter a keyword. This will reveal all of the public lists associated with your keywords.
Step 4: Find the right people to follow.
Some of this will be easy, some will be more difficult, and this is intended to evolve over time, so don’t feel like you need to build everything at once. Based on your list categories, start searching for people to follow who meet your criteria.
For example, if you’re selling a product for babies, you’ll want to follow mommy bloggers, parenting bloggers, parent/child publications and media outlets, complementary service providers and brands, etc.
To get started, check out Followerwonk or Twitter Advanced Search and include hashtags in your lists to follow streams of people who are all joining in on a particular conversation related to your industry (for example, follow the stream of people using a hashtag for an industry conference or webinar your prospective customers would be attending).
Step 5: Add people you’re following to your lists.
Each time you follow a person that you want to include on a list, be sure to click their profile link (or the Hootsuite or Hubspot link) to include them on your list. This is MUCH easier to do as you’re building your followers than it is to do later.
Step 6: Creating your own lists of new prospects.
Build a list for an upcoming event: If you are hosting an event and planning on live tweeting, create an event hashtag as well as a Twitter list that includes all of the speakers. This will allow you easier access to monitor their tweets and interact with them before, during and after the event.
Build a Customer Twitter List: This is a great way to find out what kind of content resonates with them. Learn more about who your customers are and what makes them tick. Here you have an opportunity to build stronger relationships with customers as well as cross-promote to them.
Build a Prospect Twitter List: This gives you an opportunity to learn more about what your prospects are looking for in different buying cycle stages. You have an opportunity to develop relationships by responding to their tweets and once in a while including a link to a downloadable piece of content or blog article.
Build a Competitor Twitter List: This will allow you to keep an eye on the competition and see what they are up to.
Step 7: Going Beyond the Lists.
Think outside the box: If applicable, share your lists with your twitter community by copying the URL and pasting it into a direct message to anyone you want to share it with.
For example, you could send your customers a list of people you feel would be great resources for them. If appropriate, let people know that you’ve added them to a list. This is a great way to gain some interaction, replies or retweets.
Be Careful what you call your lists! Twitter lists can be private or public, so choose carefully. Having your competitors on a public list may not be in your best interest. Furthermore, your Twitter list name is visible to the public, so be careful what you call it.