Kent Huffman is the CMO at BearCom Wireless. You can follow him on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/KentHuffman
Twitter. It’s all the rage in the social media world these days. But how can you best leverage it for tangible business-to-business marketing purposes? One way is to build your own community within Twitter.
Several months ago, I became interested in Twitter when a colleague told me about his positive experiences with the popular social media tool and insisted that I check it out. After signing up for an account and reading a few tweets, I immediately saw its potential as a community development tool. Being a long-time B2B marketer, I decided to build a group of folks interested in marketing who could inspire and help each other grow professionally by sharing ideas and information. But I didn’t know exactly how to go about creating that community.
I ultimately decided to treat it as I would any other important marketing initiative—by first developing a well-defined strategy and a set of related tactics. Over the next couple of months, I created and then tweaked the strategy and honed the tactics through trial and error. I then boiled everything down to a seven-step process that I’m sharing with you here in hopes that you can use it to develop your own B2B community on Twitter.
Step One: Define Your Goals and Target Community
Before you launch your presence on Twitter, determine what specific goals and objectives you want to accomplish. Then parlay that into a methodical plan to build a community around that goal, including defining your target audience.
Step Two: Find and Follow Like-Minded Tweeters
Once you’ve set up a Twitter account, use www.Search.Twitter.com, www.Twellow.com,www.TweepSearch.com, www.TweetBeep.com, and similar tools to find other tweeters who share the same interests as you and would appear to make good members of your fledgling community. Then follow them.
Step Three: Read and Learn
For a week or two, read the tweets posted by those whom you are following and learn from them. Understand what their interests are and how they use Twitter to communicate with others. Note which tweets and tweeters are the most appealing to you and why.
Step Four: Create Effective, Compelling Tweets
When you’re ready to begin tweeting, first determine what topics you will write about. One of the most effective strategies is to position yourself as a subject matter expert in one or two areas. Make sure those topics directly relate to the community you’re trying to build. And take a thoughtful approach by writing clever, interesting tweets that are likely to be retweeted by others.
As is the case with pretty much everything on the Internet, content is king on Twitter. Build a strong foundation for your “Twitter brand” and give other tweeters a reason to follow you by adhering to these basic dos and don’ts when composing your tweets…
· Feature newsworthy items
· Divulge “inside information”
· Share original thoughts and ideas
· Participate in conversations
· Provide useful links
· Ask engaging questions
· Inject personality and humor
· Retweet when appropriate
· Discuss what you had for breakfast
· Tweet too frequently or infrequently
· Ignore questions or comments by other tweeters
· Try to promote your product or service in every tweet
Step Five: Develop Unique Content for Your Community
In addition to writing focused, compelling tweets, another important key to success in building a strong community on Twitter is to create special content that will be of interest to your followers. One of the most effective types of content enables the members of your community to easily find and interact with each other, such as lists of experts and leaders who tweet about subjects that directly pertain to your community. In my case, I developed a series of unique marketing-related lists:
Other types of content can be very effective as well, such as blog posts—where you can discuss specific subjects in more detail (such as the post you’re now reading)—and other online and offline resources related to your core topic(s).
By creating this content, you’re providing a forum for your community that enables its members to connect to others like them. As a result, you’ll develop a reputation as a knowledgeable facilitator who is more interested in giving than taking. That can be very powerful.
Step Six: Grow Relationships
As you expand your following on Twitter, you’ll naturally gravitate toward specific tweeters with whom you can most closely relate. Develop a closer relationship with them by publicly commenting on their tweets, retweeting them, and recommending them to your community, as well as privately engaging them in one-on-one conversations, both online and offline. Do whatever you can to help them without asking for anything in return.
Step Seven: Wash, Rinse, and Repeat
Once you’ve found your “Twitter rhythm,” continue to expand your community by growing your followers list, cleaning it up from time to time, and repeating steps two through six indefinitely. You’ll find that creating and participating in your community will be a very rewarding experience, not only for you, but everyone involved.
In the final analysis, building a B2B community on Twitter is about creating value in terms of content and relationships. Even more basic than that, it’s about giving, not taking. That’s really what will help keep your community healthy, active, and growing.
Read the Greenlight360 Case Study that describes how this process has been used to produce real, measurable results on Twitter.
Kent Huffman is the CMO at BearCom Wireless. You can follow him on Twitter atwww.Twitter.com/KentHuffman.