The other day I was talking to a coach friend who asked me if I am on Twitter and if I find it generates interest, leads, clients, engagement.
Before I even had a second to reply, she got started on a rant about how she finds that the 280- character limit restrictive for engagement; and how Twitter does nothing for her business.
And then, she passed on to social media in general. “For me, none of the social media avenues prove to be successful. Perhaps exposure to an extent. I need it though for Internet presence. It takes such a lot of time, though.”
I am sure my answer surprised her.
“I understand you. I used to think that the whole thing was idiotic…. Two hundred and eighty characters for a person like me? And now, a lot of the visitors to my website come directly from Twitter, and more than 50% of my new clients find me via Twitter. And yes, I also went from a couple of followers to over 42K and I reached the top 3% of influencers among coaches, authors and speakers but that is not even important in comparison with what it has done for my business.”
Silence followed by a kind of facial question mark, which I took as a sign to explain.
I opened my Twitter account years ago and did nothing with it. Nada. Too few characters. Not enough depth, etc. etc. etc. Plus, I don’t do the I-am-in-all-platforms things. I prefer to master one channel and then I move onto the next one that makes strategic sense.
A couple of years ago I put my focus on Twitter and I ended up loving it, 280 characters and all… and the results were a delightful surprise.
The first thing I need to say is that I’m not a “social media guru who breathes, eats and sleeps social media” or that sells social media programs. I’m a business owner who uses social media as a way of reaching the right audience with my message. Period.
What’s particular about my business is that I moved to a country where I didn’t speak the language and I live in the middle of the Alps. I always joke that there are more cows than people where I live. I use the Internet and social media as the most prominent way of being discovered by the people I can help the most.
That experience is the place where I come from.
I think that for most of us the first years of social media were exciting and then came the disillusion and frustration. Too much of a time investment with too little certainty of what to expect in return.
When a business owner first discovers social media, they start by learning about it with the expectation that it will help them grow their business. It is kind of an equation that goes like this:
Social media = clients
To make matters worse, social media trainings, in general, confuse activity with productivity: because they teach how to push buttons, they give the illusion that something is accomplished. Once they run out of buttons to be pushed on a certain platform, they sell the next course that teaches how to push more buttons in a different platform.
It transforms into a never-ending game of opening doors, where different social media channels are doors and the number of choices keeps increasing. The problem is that we don’t know what we are going to find behind each of those doors.
The best way I found for my business to decide which door I was going to open next is to understand the big promise behind that door.
Let me give you an example, the big promise of the “Facebook door” is: I invest in advertising and Facebook puts my message in front of the right people.
What is the Twitter promise? To me, the promise is connecting with your audience and build a platform fast.
When I chose to open the “Twitter door”, I didn’t expect much. (I always start with no expectations because I prefer to be surprised).
The first thing I did different from everybody else on Twitter was that I didn’t start with which button to push or how to master hashtags. None of that. I don’t use automated tools or any kind of tools for that matter and until today I haven’t used hashtags.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think that when we choose a platform we need to understand how it works so with Twitter I mastered the art and science of using its search.
Simply put, I started by searching for the kind of people I wanted to connect with and began following them. Surprisingly enough, some of them followed me back.
Most social media trainings teach to go follow the people who are following your competitors. I don’t like that approach. You can certainly give it a try and see how it works for you.
I prefer to actually get creative and think. I always think of places where my ideal audience congregate. Are there associations, organizations, and federations? I start my search there.
A big mistake to avoid is to concentrate on following colleagues and people in our industry. Most of the times, they are not the audience for our business.
Is that it? The secret of all Twitter secrets? Well, yes and no.
The first part of the “big secret” is not to jump right into a social media platform without the business fundamentals in place and without a strategy. (If you are interested in knowing what exactly are the business foundations a business needs before even thinking of social media, this is the article for that).
After the initial excitement of opening the account is over, you don’t know what to post or even what to do next. Even to know who you are looking for, you need clarity on that.
That takes us to the second part of the “big secret”: the purpose and goals that inform the strategy you are going to use. Clarity about that helps us avoid the pitfall of investing time and resource in things that are not a priority to our business.
The third part of the “Twitter big secret” is to remember that social media is well… social. That informs the kind of content that will be successful. (Big hint here… sales pitches don’t get much social love).
My big picture strategy in this area: I’m always a giver.
Twitter to grow your business? Really? Really.
With love and tweets
Next Step - Come say hi on Twitter - @AnaRosenberg