The following is a guest post from Jennifer Spivak of Social Fulcrum, an NY based Word of Mouth marketing agency.
You’ve listened to marketing pros preach the value of Twitter. You’ve read the social media case studies of brands that used 140-character messages to increase awareness, improve customer service, or sell millions of dollars in products. Despite this, all you ever see when you log on to Twitter are 13-year-old Justin Bieber fans, spam accounts, and people who are mistakenly under the impression that others are interested in what they ate for breakfast.
But amidst the useless chitchat and incessant over sharing lay millions of users who are self-identifying as members of your brand’s target audience. What’s more, the nature of Twitter allows for directly interacting with each of these users. So how can you take advantage of Twitter’s unmatched ability to reach out to and build relationships with your most important target audience members?
We call it the Search & Respond Technique. Read on for tips on executing it yourself.
Setting Targeting Parameters: This step involves determining which factors would qualify a user as a target audience member. On Twitter, these parameters might include specific phrases in tweets, keywords included in a user’s bio, a user’s location, etc. By visiting Search.Twitter.com, brands can search the public timeline of tweets based on these factors. The key is to unearth the keyword phrases that produce the most relevant results. Remember, people tweet the way they talk. For example, if you’re a company which sells a weight loss product, the phrase “I want to lose weight” may not bring in as many relevant results as the more colloquial “I hate this stupid diet.”
Facilitating Interaction: So, you’ve found the tweets you’d like to respond to – now what? The one thing you DON’T want to do is blatantly suggest your brand or product. Overt promotion is not only frowned upon by the Twittersphere in general, but is also less likely to garner a response. Instead, focus on the user. Ask them what they dislike about their current diet. Ask them how much weight they want to lose. Keep the conversation relevant to your brand, while making the user feel like you’re only motive is to help them.
Tying It All Together: After several exchanges, you’ll eventually want to circle the conversation back to your brand, product, service, etc. to make sure that the user understands your value proposition. This requires thinking backwards; planning the questions you ask, anticipating the answers, and maintaining control over the conversation throughout, always keeping the end-goal in mind. Let’s go back to our weight loss example. The exchange might go something like this:
User: I hate this stupid diet
Brand: Which diet are you on?
User: Weight Watchers
Brand: What aren’t you liking about it?
User: I always feel hungry!
Brand: That’s no good! A great diet should leave you feeling full all day! How much weight are you trying to lose?
User: 20 lbs. or so
Brand: In what time frame?
User: I guess by the summer.
Brand: What’s the biggest weight loss challenge standing between you and that goal?
User: Getting myself out of bed in the morning to exercise!
Brand: You’re not the only one! If you’re interested, here’s a cool blog post on finding the motivation to work out: [link]
User: Thanks! I’ll check it out.
See what just happened? A few simple exchanges led to a website visit, allowing the user to view the brand as a valuable weight loss resource. Does it always turn into a sale? Of course it doesn’t. But it does result in the exposure of your messaging to a consumer who fits squarely within your target audience. Also, that consumer is now a potential evangelist that understands your product/brand benefits and can easily communicate them to others. Furthermore, all of their followers saw the conversation, and now they are also aware. See what everyone’s all atwitter about now?