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Why Your Twitter Followers Aren't Leads…Or Are They?

twitter-get-clientsCan Twitter really help your business? Or is it just another place on the web to waste time.

This is something I get asked all the time by clients, prospective clients and just about anyone else I meet and chat with. Heck, my mom called me a few weeks ago just to ask me, “what is Twitter?” So if it’s reaching my mom, who is somewhat computer savvy, it’s probably something we all want to figure out how to interact with.

But the question still remains – can Twitter help your business?

The answer…well, yes…and…no.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking…how could it be both?

Simple! Twitter is nothing more than a channel you dial in to whenever you want to connect. You can use that channel in any number of ways. For instance, if you don’t have a business or if you’re not trying to market your business on Twitter, then you just get to follow and engage in conversations. From those conversations you’ll meet interesting, like-minded people and possibly develop new friendships.

The same can be true if you have a business you’re trying to promote using Twitter. You can also get into engaging conversations, meet interesting people and develop new friendships. And, that’s all Twitter can be.

But if you want to use Twitter to increase your reach, or find prospective clients, you need to go about using it in that way. Which means you want to have a plan.

Now, when I say plan, I don’t necessarily mean some highly structured, graphed out approach to leveraging Twitter to meet your business objectives. Rather, I mean that you’re clear about the possibilities and opportunities that you find yourself in as you use Twitter. It’s difficult to take advantage of opportunities – even see them – if you’re not looking for them.

And that doesn’t mean that every tweet you ever write, respond to or retweet on Twitter should be about gaining business. As a matter of fact, that’s often the wrong tact. People smell it when you’re not forthright about your intentions. And they definitely smell a marketing ploy. Just be a real person who has a business interacting with real people knowing that some of them will likely want what your business offers.

So here’s some tips on how to see the opportunities when using Twitter:

  • Be clear on your Twitter objectives. If they’re personal, great, keep it that way. If they’re professional, then make sure you know what you want from using Twitter
  • Do it. In other words, do the things that will meet your business objectives. And if you don’t know how – get some help from someone you trust.
  • Reach out. Twitter can be a great place to reach people you normally wouldn’t, or couldn’t. So be the one who reaches out to others. Just be sure to keep the conversation honest and be upfront if you have business motives.
  • Follow the people who follow you. It’s more difficult to do as you get more and more followers. But, especially in the beginning, people will often connect with your immediately if you follow them back.
  • Be aware. Always look for business opportunities. I not saying always be marketing. Just be aware that even the most benign conversation could open into a business possibility. Be looking for them – just don’t force them.
  • Remember, it’s about people. Twitter is about conversation and building relationships. Even if you’re using Twitter to promote your business, be sure you’re clear that it’s about the people on the other end of your tweets.
  • Do your research. When you get into a good conversation with someone, find out about them. Learn about their business, visit their website, signup for their feed. Learn what you can so you can deepen your relationship.
  • Find partners. Twitter can be a great place to find people to partner with in your business or on new projects. Again, simply look for the opportunities.
  • Be aware. I know I said this already, but it needs repeating. Be awake to the possibilities around you. Listen closely in conversations about what people want. And when you find something that you can help with – help them.
  • Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANT, be real. Even if you’re promoting a business on Twitter, remember that you’re a person interacting with other people. Be true to yourself and transparent with everyone else.

Twitter provides some amazing opportunities. I’ve met hundreds of interesting people on Twitter myself. Some are just interesting conversations. Some become more regular relationships. Some have become friends. And others are interested in how I can help them in their business. And I try to meet each of them where they are.

Getting clear on how to use Twitter can be the difference between wasted time and a growing business. It’s important, then, to know what you’re doing with Twitter and then do it. This is one of the reasons I’ve created my teleclass, Learn How to Use Twitter to Get More Clients. I’ll be sharing a number of the things I do to successfully use Twitter to promote my business without being an annoying marketer who’s only out to make a buck. Read more about the teleclass and register by clicking here.

And let me ask…How are you using Twitter? Do you promote your business? And if so, are your efforts giving you returns?

Or are you lost and uncertain how to use Twitter to find more clients?

Let’s talk about it.

(note: image from wiselywoven on Flickr, some rights reserved)

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  1. Mahoji Personal Finance says:

    If my intention is more to professional, what can I do to not sound too ‘marketing’? Should I take the conversation longer and longer and then hit it with my business intention?

  2. I love twitter for brand building and increasing my network. I have had a handful of leads that resulted in work that originated from discussions with Tweeple. The funny thing is that if you use it as a “marketing” channel, most people will be turned off. This is a relationship-intensive method of customer building.

    Though I see only a handful of real, viable customer opportunities from Twitter, when they pan out, it is always in a big way.

  3. Dawud, you’re spot on here. I tell my clients exactly the same thing. The hardest part for most entrepreneurs to get their minds around is the best way to gain influence is to do less “selling” and more “pointless” interaction with people.

    People do business with people they know, like and trust. If you haven’t gotten over those hurdles when you offer them something it often becomes an exercise in frustration.

  4. Great Post!!! Definitely it helps people who are new to twitter especially the people who all are using twitter for business purpose. thanks for sharing such a valuable information.

  5. Dawud, I never thought to use the Twitter as my publicity platform, as I normally used it for keeping in touch with my followers. In this case, the Twitter doesn’t generate any lead for my business at all…

  6. I think your article was perfect with a dot after “is it just another place on the web to waste time.” 🙂 Sorry, but I think Twitter Marketing is like Facebook, a lot of traffic, 0 sales…

  7. Latifah Shay says:

    My intentions with Twitter are to be real, to be transparent – to let people know who I am. I’m trying to build trust and to get my name out there. It’s not a natural thing for me, but I’m giving it a try. Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂

  8. Love the article … a Virtual Assistant I have gotten business through Twitter that I never would have otherwise been able to secure. I am working with clients in seven different states now all because of Twitter.

    I focus a great deal on building relationships. It has not happened overnight but any cathedral must be built one brick at a time. I chose to spend my time on Twitter laying those bricks.

    Also as a result of Twitter I have formed great collaborations with others, joint ventures and I have hired various people for my own business. The cherry on top – developed some true and lasting friendships.

    (and as a fun side note I met my now boyfriend because of Twitter – even though he’s not on Twitter! He lives 1100 miles away so we would have never crossed paths as the grocery store! )


  9. DaveMurr says:

    Twitter is a digital handshake and like a handshake/introduction, it plays on the same rules that govern our offline relationships.

    Looking at the twitter audience as potential leads is bad thinking. Instead think of your twitter audience as potential relationships you can build both online and off. Then you will see that the “lead” naturally presents itself.

  10. Efusjon says:

    Twitter has more followers than people who generate content or otherwise interact. The 75% (or whatever it is now) drop out rate is very high. I just don’t see Twitter being sticky enough to last compared to say Facebook.

  11. I do use twitter to a limited extent but I also think it can be quite a strange place. As humans we are programmed to have a social group of around 50. After that we tend to struggle a little. There seems to be a need to have a massive collection of contacts. This may work in terms of the carrot and stick presented by twitter, Google and many other on-line arenas but in life we would do better to concentrate on less than 100 contacts; certainly less than 1000 at any one time. Twitter does not represent that which happens in normal contact situations. There are aspects of it, which are a quite twisted, artificial view of life. Communication becomes games-play and here, friends and relatives can be acquired and then turned off or blocked, with ease.
    I think the jury is still out.

  12. “And that doesn’t mean that every tweet you ever write, respond to or retweet on Twitter should be about gaining business”

    Getting your message across doesn’t necessarily mean being direct about it. Twitter can be a good avenue for warming up potential clients to your offered service.

  13. Advice for women says:

    “Which means you want to have a plan.”

    Are there any particular businesses you can link us to which have used twitter to its commercial advantage?

  14. Twitter seems like alot of spam to me. It does make people curious to see you site though. It has helped me with my blog a while back but I dont use it too much lately.

  15. AutoJag says:

    Definitely a very good post!!!
    Its really help me, who new to twitter… thanks for sharing this information.. ^^

  16. From my point of view Twitter is a “noisy” channel. I am not sure if it is in its nature or it evolve into something different.

  17. I think it is still in its infancy. Twitter as a marketing tool seems to have potential, but as you say it needs a solid plan before execution.

  18. I have found twitter very useful in terms of getting out information about my company to my customers very quickly. If used correctly, its a great tool!

  19. We should very careful of what people we’re following in the Twitter, Dawud. One of my friends, Trent told me that he had been spammed by those people he’d followed in the Twitter everyday!

    As a result, he’s now have a phobia with Twitter.

  20. I believe that Twitter has potential to be the most excellent marketing tool ever. Now, I heard someone said that many people use Twitter instead of Google. I mean you can have tons of information immediately, especially the popular topics.

  21. Im using twitter to build relationships. But I sometimes tweet to promote a product or service. Im still not sure how effective it is.

    @Wilson, I also get a lot of spam sent to me as Direct Message. Id rather read the @username instead.

  22. Twitter followers tend to be a lot better for my blog sites, but when it comes to OScommerces sites it’s not. They will come and be loyal returning visitors, but they will not purchase anything. So in the end if you have a blog twitter is a great thing for you to get into, if you have an online store… sorry but it’s not.

  23. Twitter is still something that a lot of internet marketers are questioning, myself included. I think your tips on how to distinguish proper approaches for using Twitter as a business tool are sound.

    I know some have had good results with Twitter, so as long as you respect your followers (and don’t spam them or insult their intelligence), it has some good potential.

  24. Twitter followers have tended to get involved more vocally I’ve seen, but they don’t usually put up much money.. as Jordans so keenly points out. Oh well, it’s always nice having traffic, even if you’re not getting paid I suppose!

  25. The point is not the money. As long as you are appreciated from what wou are doing it keeps you go on

  26. I have found twitter very useful in terms of getting out information about my company to my customers very quickly. If used correctly, its a great tool!

  27. Sort of new to the whole online marketing hype. This post definitely has valuable info that I can use in my online marketing quest.

  28. Tech Connoisseur says:

    I agree with all your tips, but I think you should add one more:

    – Make your followers feel WANTED. The easiest way to do this is like @delloutlet did: give Twitter-only promotions to your followers to let them know you care. Dell is one of the only companies that has achieved a positive ROI using Twitter.

  29. Though there are many different social networking sites to try, there’s no right or wrong strategy for your site. It really depends on your business, your target audience, and where your target audience participates. Social media is all about establishing community and presence. It can drive traffic, but more importantly, it can give your brand credibility when done correctly. And for many e-commerce sites, it can prove to be an excellent customer service tool.

  30. Well written and thought out article. I never understood the allure of Twitter but you’ve given me something to think about. Maybe I’ll have to do some prototyping and test it out. Thanks!

  31. Twitter could help develop your business. But how could Twitter give you opportunity to develop your business when its visitors are subscribing to it not to find a product? Why not invest in blogs? Or why not invest in article submissions?

  32. Thanks for your advice and valuable insights. I believe I have to rethink who I follow and what I should be tweeting about. Makes one more credible and believable if you stick on your niche and be interactive.

  33. Thanks for those tips. I would like to boost a game that I created with some others. But the problem is really the promotion. It’s free and the player is not only a player. He is a part of the game and vote for the rules, it’s a democratic game. But we have no action just plain text roleplaying. So the promtion is hard. I really hope we can boost it with Twitter, I would be nice to have ten players more. 🙂

  34. Twitter is a useful tool. One mistake that I see many online marketers make is that they use twitter solely as a way to distribute coupons and special offers. The reality is that most people don’t care about your company’s sales and coupons. The better way of using twitter is to distribute useful info that relates to your products, that your customers care about. For instance, if you sell shoes, twitter about the new models of shoes and how they stack up.

  35. I’ve never really bothered with Twitter but my friend has an account.

    Within two days of signing up, he had sixteen followers – all of whom were quite obviously spammers/bots.

  36. Thankyou for all the suggestions, Twitter really gets more views to my web

  37. dj audio equipment says:

    I’ve read in several instances that ROI in social media (like Twitter or Facebook) is much higher that in PPC or other traditional channels.

    Like you said, the problem is turning friends or followers into leads because it takes a lot of incentive and time to do that.

  38. Twitter has been great for us in an outreach effort to find new partners. We have been using it along with other social media as a sort of cold call…break the ice and try to set up a meeting. As far as generating clients, we haven’t been able to take that step as of yet….not sure anyone has.

  39. Stuart Chaney says:

    Its very hard to gauge between using twitter for social and business needs.

    The trick is to be real with your followers and dont push your business too hard.

  40. IMBuzz Riches Bonus says:

    I think, it depends entirely on your audience. If you follow a bunch of people without discrimination and over a very short period of time ballooned your followers, its not considered a good business practice, you’ll be wasting your precious time, its just an avenue to share thoughts, mingle and interact and nothing more.

  41. My company works on integration of proximity marketing in CIS countries and few weeks ago we joined twitter with our blog about usage bluetooth marketing abroad, in US and Europe:-). It’s too short period to make conclusions but even now i see that it became easier to tell people, and especially people in post soviet countries, about efficiency of mobile technologies in ads.

  42. Kiss Identity Review says:

    The only problem with Twitter is you have so many people using it to “preach” the same message over and over again. If it was more like a newsletter with varying content that’d be one thing, but it’s become like Craigslist posting where advertisers spam the same message constantly.

  43. Every day, I set myself a twitter objective. It may be to build followers, it may be to reach out, it may be to find experts who can help me with my project. Twitter can be both the most fantastic networking tool out there and at the same time, if not planned correctly as you argue, the most fantastic waste of time. Sometimes just wasting time on twitter can be fun though!

  44. I havent found Twitter that useful except for idle chat. I prefer Facebook to tell you the truth.

  45. I completely agree, especially with the be real part. Too often you just get tweets that just seem so sterile.

  46. Being a network marketer, meeting people is a must. Since network marketing is a people business, I find Twitter works very well with that.

    That being said, there are so many out there who just don’t understand the whole concept of “marketing by not marketing.”

    People do business with their friends, so the more friends you make and relationships you build the better your chances of success.

  47. “It’s more difficult to do as you get more and more followers. But, especially in the beginning, people will often connect with your immediately if you follow them back.”

    But don’t you think it would also be better if you choose whom you follow? We should be more careful now with our online activities.

  48. Dallas Web Design says:

    I do know one thing every time i post a few tweets i end up with a mail box full of new followers. I haven’t quit figured out the benefit in any of it unless you theory on nofollows is wrong. Every link you put in tweet is a nofollow, but i recently read a few guys who did a test with know follows the took a few misspelled words and posted those words on a bunch of nofollow blogs just int he comments. About 15 blogs later the were showing up for those exact misspelled keywords which suposivly had nothing to do with there sites topic. I wanted to comment this on the nofollow article but the comments were closed.

  49. Pasadena Employment Attorney says:

    I just stumbled upon this. Get it stumble upon.. Oh well I just thought i would say hello and I think the twitter church sign is very cute.

  50. Tiwtter seems to be a tool for banal conversations and the only professionals that seem to engage actively in it are the self proclaimed social media experts.

  51. I’m Looking at the twitter audience as potential leads is bad thinking, Instead think of your twitter audience as potential relationships you can build both online and off then you will see that the “lead” naturally presents itself

  52. Your article was very helpful. With all this hype about Twitter I figured I should get involved but I haven’t been clear on how to get the job done. That is until now. You have inspired me! Thanks!

  53. platinum etpr says:

    Very good article, I didn’t trust in Tweeter but, as long as I see people talking about this site again and again, and now I read this post, i think that I’ll work seriously on Tweeter…

  54. The 75% (or whatever it is now) drop out rate is very high. I just don’t see Twitter being sticky enough to last compared to say Facebook.

  55. It’s what you make of it, the same thing as with Facebook or any other SM marketing campaigns.. Nothing is great for your business by itself…

  56. Twitter is now and will continue to grow into one of the main, internet marketing mediums. You have access to an audience, that is basically limit-less. Great post and I can not wait to see how we proceed.

  57. Justin Marlow says:

    I think Twitter is best for blog like businesses as you can syndicate content easily and gain new viewers. For a business selling products I think there are better ways to market. A personal Twitter account for the business owner would be the best way to approach Twitter and just try to make contacts not push sales.

  58. I think twitter is useless for SEO. You sound laconic there, like a retard.

  59. I never thought that I could find twitter useful before but now that I used it, I am glad that it generate some views from my followers. Thanks for the helpful post

  60. Well most people are on twitter and many are using it like the new facebook / irc / msn. The potential for generating business and revenue from Twitter is enormeous but there are techniques that work and some that dont on Twitter as well. Nice post – Thanks!

  61. Kelly T. Wallace says:

    I use Hummingbird to get more followers on Twitter. I think this is the link:

  62. Debra: Philadelphia Wedding Receptions says:

    I’ve only recently started using twitter for our business and so far it appears to be promising. You suggestions ring true and I think that I’m on the right track.

    One of the most difficult parts was to figure out what is the most effective to use this tool for our business. After a few fits and starts, our Twitter efforts finally feel like they are getting productive.

  63. Undoubtedly twitter is nice tool to communicate with others in real time. Anyway really nice post and great work.

  64. I think your observations are useful. Generally I think that Twitter has proven that it can drive a significant amount of traffic and it can have impact from an SEO perspective. I think that the key point is whether the effort expended in developing and nurturing Twitter followers is the most productive compared to other efforts.

  65. I’m Looking at the twitter audience as potential leads is bad thinking, Instead think of your twitter audience as potential relationships you can build both online and off then you will see that the “lead” naturally presents itself

  66. Breaking news says:

    Wow nice I havent found Twitter that useful except for idle chat. I prefer Facebook to tell you the truth.

  67. I’ve found that if you use twitter as it was intended, to converse with people on the web, you can actually use it a good source of lead generation. The trick I’ve found is to never spam your products or services. I post to twitter daily, but only mention a product of service once a month or so.

  68. Trash Bag Holder says:

    I’m not using Twitter at the moment (nor am I sure I ever will) but I do consider myself to have a pretty good grasp of it concerning its potential as well as its downfalls.

    First off, I definitely think that Twitter can be used as an extremely effective marketing tool. At the same time, I’ve also seen TONS of Twitter “users” going about the business all wrong. In my opinion, in order to get the full effect from Twitter you’ve got to provide quality “stuff” (whatever type of content you’re working with), engage with others, and connect with others related to your business.

    You bring much of this up in the article and your article is a great example of how to use Twitter effectively. You’ve provided people with something they like and are engaged in, and as a result it’s been shared numerous times on Twitter (17 as I’m writing this comment).

  69. i joined twitter recently and although it has definitely brought in some traffic to my etsy shop, i’m not sure if it has helped with increasing my sales directly. that being said, i am relatively new and it surely feels nice to have the platform to share with my small number of followers when i am selling a new piece or art.

  70. Personally I like Twitter. I must say that when it comes to specific language finding followers is hard and therefore I suggest that your Twitter acc. and twitts should be on English. There are also some helpful free online services that can assist you with reciprocal following and removing people who don’t follow you.

  71. Your information is very helpful, frankly I was one of the twitter user, such as what you say, I still feel twitter is the activity a waste of time, and try to inform some of my activities. But not much influence. And followers never grow. even tended to decrease.

  72. Of all the social networks I’ve seen people use, Twitter does seem to be the most effective. That’s just because it is geared towards a larger audience than the teens that usually flood MySpace and Facebook. Plus, it’s really easy to use and really easy for your customers to use. In the end, I think it’s quite a powerful marketing tool.

  73. I’m currently using twitter to market a website (NGO, not for selling), and you’ve persuaded me to take more time to get to know the people I’m tweeting to – if they know me better, they’re much more likely to re-tweet my info.

  74. I find it very hard to keep track of all the Tweets from people I am following, this is where facebook has the advantage as the comments “stick” to the wall. Although % wise more of our Twitter followers click through to our site then our Facebook Fans.

  75. Cellulite says:

    i think twitter is very useful to us! but anyway thanks for this information.

  76. I have put a lot of energy into Tweeter and find that ít doesn’t work for my business as a marketing tool… I will follow your good tips and give Tweeter a second chance… THANKS!

  77. While twitter can be used to talk to people, the best thing that could happen is people start talking about you and directing them to your business. This is extremely hard to do, unless you happen to have really good content on your site like Wikipedia. Links and getting others to pass the word on are always good.

  78. bookmarking says:

    Twitter is a very much efficient way for marketing .. we need to study more on that.

  79. Droid 2 says:

    I’ve honestly never had any luck with my twitter followers turning into leads. I am sure that there are those of you that have had lots of luck, however. I guess I have a lot to learn.

  80. Funny T-shirts says:

    We’ve found from our weblogs that Tweeting a new product can generate a surge of interest in a T-shirt and by building up followers we can gain notoriety, if not sales.

  81. I am new to twitter but I have been having a lot of fun with it. As a business tool we are all still getting used to it.

  82. Roger @ Internet TV says:

    Wow great insight. I’d say they are leads and brand ambassadors of your work. Treat them properly and they will evangelize around your product and help promote them. Treat them badly and hear and fear their spurn.

  83. I did twitter for a while, had about 30 followers, but I am not a star or an athlete or even a major corp. so why would anyone care when I ate dinner or thought someone was a jerk on the freeway….

  84. Relatiegeschenken says:

    I like Twitter, but I really need to get to the conversation with my followers. This is also a matter of time. What I do a lot now is searching for a keyword and look what people tweet about it. Sometimes they are looking for my products and that way I can immidiately react on their question. Perfect!

  85. I never know how to use Twitter effectively. I always start an account and follow a bunch of people but I never know what to do from there. I got a few followers but I don’t even think they read the tweets I send out. I should really be more engaged and active on Twitter.

  86. I finished with 500 followers and the majority are within my target audience. My Ultimate goal is to use Twitter as a complimentary lead generation technique by keeping them interested!

  87. So many people epic fail at both Facebook and Twitter… they figure their friends list is a list of potential marks. I have one friend who relentlessly spams us with his MMA site, but it’s the best way I have to contact him, so I can’t really unfriend him. The annoying part is that I even taught him how to do social networking when he worked for me. Post info that your target market is interested in and will backlink to. Don’t use every post to promote yourself and your product. It’s not hard.

  88. Thanks for your advice and valuable insights. I believe I have to rethink who I follow and what I should be tweeting about. Makes one more credible and believable if you stick on your niche and be interactive.

  89. Good article, but I’ve given up using it as a way to get leads, seems like there is so many easier ways to get that today.
    Blogs and facebook is the first two that comes to mind.
    My experience is that I have to spend a lot of time re-twitting to get any leads and that time is better spent elsewhere.
    With a few hundreds (or thousand) followers it’s full time job to get the most out of twitter


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