Twitter - an absorbing waste of time, or a powerful business marketing tool?

Advocates of Twitter will say it’s essential for business. Other people will say it’s a time waster... So which is it? Read on for my guide, based on my two month’s experiences of being a tweeter, of how to achieve more with your tweets.

1. Get to know people and enjoy the conversation

Treat your time on twitter as if you were at a big networking event. This is your opportunity to get to know people, create goodwill with your followers and raise your profile. You will develop business by maintaining a presence on twitter – but like most things, this takes time, effort and patience. Don’t expect to be immediately clinching deals with your twitter followers. It still takes approximately seven conversations to move a cold prospect to a warm prospect – regardless of whether you are holding on-line or off-line conversations.

2. Create (shortened) links

You only have 140 characters for a tweet – and no amount of negotiating will make twitter change the maximum length of a tweet! A URL shortening tool, such as bit.ly is a must to be able to direct your followers to stuff on the net. Use your tweets to direct your followers to your blog updates, new products (or best sellers), interesting articles – but always remember to include a reason why they should click on the link. For example, ‘negotiating with a customer you can’t afford to lose? – click for ten top tips’

3. Finding and vetting your followers

You can easily build up a huge following on twitter by following lots of people, as many people use twitter tools which automatically follows anyone that follows them. However, if you are looking to build up a local client base of small business owners, it’s no good being followed by lots of teenage girls in the US. There are some great twitter tools that will help you follow the right people. For example, there are several business directories for twitter, e.g. wefollow & twellow. Or you can use a service like Mr Tweet, which will recommend followers for you, based on your current followers. If you want to pin-point your followers by geographical location, tweetmondo is a fantastic tool.

The free version of tweetlater allows you to vet all your new followers – it will then send an automatic direct message to the new followers that you approve. When you are vetting new followers you have the option of blocking unwanted followers and automatically blocking and reporting suspected spammers.

4. Give people a reason to follow you back

There are many tools on twitter, which for a small (or often large!) fee will offer to automate finding you followers. The best way I have found of getting the people who you follow to follow you back, is to send them a message (@username) explaining how you found them and why you have decided to follow them. I have discovered that this method normally means that over 80% of everyone I follow, decides to follow me back.

5. Mix business with pleasure

No one likes to be continually marketed to. I have unfollowed many followers who seemed to think that I liked being bombarded with advertising. You will find the right personal balance of business & personal tweets for you over time. I find a mix of 80-90% personal tweets seems to be working for me.

6. Remember your manners

There are two pieces of Twitter etiquette that is critical to attracting and keeping followers. These are thanking new followers, and thanking someone for retweeting (RT) one of your tweets to their followers.

Use the direct message facility to a new follower to strike up a conversation, akin to if you were meeting them face-to-face. For example, ‘what do you do?’, ‘Who do you work with?’, ‘what issues do you currently face?’

So, why is being retweeted something special? Well if you have been retweeted by someone with over 15 000 followers, then your message & profile could suddenly be visible to another 15 000 people – great advertising!

7. Have a go at tweeting on the deck

I personally like to use tweetdeck to help me manage my twitter conversations. Tweetdeck is a great tool which will lets you group your followers into relevant subject areas (or marketing campaigns). For example, I have a group for my everywomen network followers, local business owners, trainers & coaches, accountants, lawyers etc

8. Spotting Spam

Most spammers are fairly easy to spot. You may find they contain a pornographic thumbnail, or a recently opened account with under 5 updates & following hundreds of people. The best thing to do is block them and report them to @spam. Tweetlater will automatically report spam for you when you vet your new followers.

9. #Follow Friday and #quote ???, speak English!

People use the # symbol to denote a keyword. On Friday, on twitter, you will find lots of people tweeting about #followfriday. If there is someone that you feel deserves to be followed (or you want to build up some goodwill), reply to the person in question with the reason why your followers should follow them, and include the keyword #followfriday.

Lots of people – but particularly coaches, marketers and trainers like to use quotes to twitter with. By putting the #quote on your tweet, people searching for quotes will find your tweet.

10. Retweeting (RT)

The normal way to show appreciation for someone’s tweet is to retweet it to your followers. I also use the Retweet function to include my answer on a question someone has asked on tweet.

11. Analyse your twittering

Twitter Analyzer is a fantastic tool to see what is working, or not working with your marketing efforts on twitter. You can see what types of followers you have, where they are located around the world, what common subjects they are twittering about etc, etc. The best thing about twitter analyzer is it’s free!

Good luck with your tweeting – and if you would like more tips and advice on how to achieve more, why not follow me on twitter? @efficiencycoach

Or if you would like to see how else we can help you achieve more with your business, why not take a look at our website - www.theefficiencycoach.co.uk/business_efficiency.php

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I help professionals, mostly accountants and lawyers become the Go-To-Expert. After joining BDO LLP in 2004, I have now almost clocked up ten years working predominantly with accountants helping them achieve their career and business goals. Unusually for someone with an Engineering Degree, I accidentally became a writer and used my knowledge on social media to write the current best-selling and award-winning book on networking, The FT Guide To Business Networking. (over 100 five star reviews on amazon) In 2012, the book I always wanted to write, 'How to make partner and still have a life' was published. In March 2014, my next book, 'The Go-To-Expert: How to build your reputation, differentiate yourself from the competition and win business' is published. People frequently talk about me as someone who really knows her stuff – which may be the reason I have, over the last decade, worked with over 300 partners, coached and trained over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

I am honoured to have been asked to judge the British Accountancy Awards in 2011 and 2012. I am a member of the Accountant's Club Global Advisory Panel, and write regularly on practice management issues for CCH.

Myself, and Jon (my co-director) are approved Growth Accelerator Coaches. This means that we can if you are eligible, through the Growth Accelerator scheme, help you get some coaching funded by the scheme. Click here for more details to see whether you are eligible for the scheme.

The types of work I am currently helping my small professional practice clients with, includes:

1) Helping a £2m t/o practice grow to £4m by restructuring the firm and helping the management team step up 

2) Working with a £1m t/o practice to grow to £2m by generating more leads, and getting more work from existing clients

3) Enabling a £300k t/o practice grow to £1m by helping it sort out it's profitability by adding in efficient systems and processes, and increasing the quality of the  lead generation by marketing to a niche

4) Facilitating the growth of a one man band practice into a 3 person practice by helping increase the lead generation and conversion rate of leads, plus keeping the practice owner accountable to his goals.

The Excedia Group was founded by myself and Jon Baker to bring clarity, perspective and knowledge to help our clients achieve their business goals. We specialise in working with highly technical individuals, typically lawyers and accountants, helping them to get out of their comfort zone and build a profitable and sustainable client portfolio whilst handling the challenges of leading a business. 

My work splits into about 50% Executive & Business Coaching with Partners & potential partners, with the rest split between training, consultancy and writing.

My articles & quotes regularly appear in the press, e.g. FT, Guardian, Accountancy Age, Accounting Today, Economia, ACCA's publications. I regularly blog at Partnership Potentialventure-NowJoined up networking and How to make partner.

To book me for a speaking engagement please contact my PR Agency, Meerkat PR, on 020 8563 0182, and ask for David Stoch. For any other work related enquiries, please contact me directly.

My clients have included: Deloitte LLP, KPMG LLP, BDO LLP, Haines Watts, MSI Global Alliance, UK200 group, Macintyre Hudson LLP amongst others.