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May 16, 2012

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How on earth will Twitter create useful opportunities for my B2B company?

by Tom De Baere

Many B2B companies struggle with what to do with social media. They start creating a page on Facebook, Google+ or any other social media platform. And usually also a Twitter account.

But I’ve seen many B2B companies using it as an extension of their public relations, in which they just tweet about their press releases, new product launches, their promotions, etc…. Now that’s something you should not doing on Twitter.

Does my B2B company need Twitter?

If you are still asking yourself that question, you urgently need to dig into the topic of social media (you can start already today by reading this blog). Twitter, and social media in general, is being used  heavily in B2B by journalists, analysts, but also your customers. They stay up to speed on trends, companies, and news, and educate themselves using social media.

Their trusted contacts (=who they follow) influence them, and as such their trusted contacts influence their buying decisions. That’s why you should be part of their networks, and influence them through your knowledge, insight, information and services.

In short: you need to be where they are.

But I have no experience with Twitter in B2B?

I have personally been very skeptical about Twitter. I practically had to force myself to create a Twitter account (maybe I’ve put that a bit too strong ;-)). It even took a while before I felt comfortable to put out my first Tweet. But to be honest, it is better than expected and I guess you need to try it to be convinced.

If you have never tried it, give it a try. In the beginning you will feel uncomfortable, but when you connect with the right people, you will notice that you become aware of interesting information that you otherwise had to go out and search for yourself. Install a tool like Tweetdeck or software straight from Twitter themselves on your computer, and while you work, the Tweets will flow in. It’s not disturbing, non intrusive, and fun.

The nice thing about Twitter

The nice thing about Twitter is that you ‘subscribe’ yourself to people and companies you want to follow, because you know they will provide you with interesting content. I do not need to do anything; it will come to me automatically. And I do not feel the need to check all the posts. I use it when I feel sharing something, and I have chosen for myself to only share relevant topics that have got to do with marketing in general and communication in particular. But when I find something worth sharing outside of these domains, I might do it also.

In short: just do it, observe, learn, and then participate.

But how do you create a following on Twitter?

You will be amazed how quickly you will get a following.

  • The best way to create a following is to start following others and responding to them, just like you would do elsewhere. Start by following independent organizations within your industry, or follow some of the larger non-competitive companies in your industry.
  • Embed social media sharing on your website.
  • Embed social media sharing in your outbound marketing activities.
  • Make sure that your press contacts know your twitter name (Journalist are very much into Twitter, because it provides them of a constant feed of information about companies, without the need for them to visit websites, open e-mails with press releases, etc.)

How on earth will Twitter create opportunities for my B2B company?

If you provide relevant information to your buyers through Twitter, you will create a following that is truly interested in what you have to say. They are more likely to trust you as a company, because you provide them with great information on how to improve their business. And as such you have less work to convince them once they are ready to become a buyer of your products or services.

All those followers will create inbound traffic to your core web presence, usually your website or your blog. From there, the magic continues, and your followers become customers, and some of them become your fans.

On the other hand, if you follow back people that are interested in your content, they are bound to tweet about topics that are part of their domain of interest. And when you follow them, you might catch on to some interesting opportunities.

Another approach is to search for common topics related to your business. People usually put their domains of interest in their Twitter biography, with or without Twitter hashtags. Follow them, and you’ll have another lead generation channel.

But just make sure you are providing relevant content, and not to post only about new products, new press releases or how much fun it was at one of your tradeshows.

But what should I Tweet about?

So what should you as a company publish on Twitter? Basically, every time when you want to share something with your followers, ask yourself this question:

 

AM I INFORMING/EDUCATING/AMUZING THEM WITH THIS INFORMATION?

If the answer is yes, go ahead and share it.

Some other “free giveaways”

  • Do not talk about your company, or its products, unless it helps your followers to make better business decisions.
  • Remember that Twitter is a social place, so keep it fun and not too formal, yet intellectual.
  • Share and re-tweet external stories that your buyers might find interesting.
  • Share and tweet news stories on your website, and make sure the value of the story is reflected in the tweet. But only tweet news stories that do not talk about you as a company or its products, but share stories that explain how our products and technologies solve problems of customers.

Don’t worry, you’ll be just fine

There’s much more to know about Twitter and how it can help your B2B business. But don’t worry, you have time to learn. Just go ahead, create a corporate Twitter account for your company, and start learning. But start today.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because everyone is constantly learning. As long, as you remain authentic, honest and respectful, you’ll be ok.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

One question: Are you using Twitter in B2B? If you are using some of the tips above, do you agree that this is the good approach?

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere

  • Some great comments here…wish we had this when we started out on our Twitter journey…made most of the mistakes & still do…but your totally right – its about getting out there and just having fun/engaging – and see what others do…. take the first step…and it comes too easy – its like a giant screen of sms……multiple conversations – all the time! Will share :-) Thanks!

    • Tom De Baere

      Glad you liked it, and thanks for sharing.

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