This week I’ll dive a bit deeper into Twitter as I continue my personal decision process as to the benefits versus the time investment of the new (to me) information streaming technology.

I am looking to support and expand my business as the primary result of the sites (rather than personal gain) and so I enjoyed this article on How to Generate Contacts, Leads and New Clients. I hope you do as well.

David Lammert

Twitter: How to Generate Contacts, Leads and New Clients
Abridged: Community Marketing Blog, By: Andrew Ballenthin and Leesa Barnes

We’ve been asked by numerous professionals, “Can you actually get new leads and a payback by using Twitter?” It’s a fair question, especially during tight economic times when any sales and marketing effort has to survive and thrive for the efforts invested. The following tips are based on feedback from professionals who have participated in emails, blog comments and various professional online Group discussions who have gained real leads and new clients as a result of working with twitter.First, Get To Know The Culture Of This Unique Social NetworkFirst and foremost keep in mind that the majority of rules for effective networking, lead generation, relationship building, and branding apply to twitter. In addition, twitter has a number of its own cultural norms that if not followed will work against your efforts and result in a waste of time and potentially leave you with a bad reputation.

Some of twitter’s important cultural norms are:
* Do Not Push A Sale – Follow the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
* Don’t Do Pushy Welcomes – When thanking someone for following don’t hard sell, just be polite.
* Have A Consistent Brand – Don’t be too diverse, too controversial or too personal unless you are going to consistently portray this brand image. Stay within your company’s culture.
* Do Ask For Help – Ask your base for feedback and how to do it better.
* Don’t Say Things You Can’t Take Back – Count to 10 or you could regret the damage you do to yourself.

The Good Stuff, How to Generate Leads and Potentially New Clients
Based on feedback from numerous professionals who generated leads and new clients here are some of the things they did that worked. In all cases theses professionals piqued a follower’s interest through a variety of approaches which lead to contact and actual business activity that followed. Like any new relationship, don’t expect results overnight.

Be ready to invest weeks or months at this process the same way you would invest in offline networking or industry events. The good news is, just like offline networking, sometimes great things can happen unexpectedly.

Tweet about what you’re working on
* People are interested in what has your attention.
* Share the projects you’re working on and the tools you’re using.
* You’ll find that people are eager to share the tools they have found useful or may ask you for your recommendation.
* This helps build relationships.

Tweet on interesting industry information
* Be the first to share interesting industry news. Over time, if done consistently, it will help you stand out in your industry as a valuable resource.
* Share useful trivia – for example a blog post, an article, a recently released report.
* Share the URL with others so they can read it.
TIP: shorten the URL so it fits in your tweet, use or as they both track clicks.

Include your twitter URL on marketing communications
* You want your following to be composed of people that want your information.
* Add your twitter address to emails and online and offline marketing materials.
* If twitter is going to be a key way to let people know about your business, promote it heavily.
* Let your offline networks know you’re on twitter. It gives them a way to get to know you and build relationships.
* Prospects can get valuable updates and may build trust due to shared insights/news.
* Many companies use twitter for news releases, research, building relationships and more.

Put energy into building relationships
* Find ways to help others get what they want, practice good networking skills.
* Respond to other’s tweets if there is a common interest. Do it consistently for them to get to know you.
* Send DM’s (Direct Messages) when the information is more personal.
* Follow natural relationship building rules you would apply with any new contact.
* Retweet valuable information to help a follower achieve their goals.

Promote your product/services in the context of your followers
The general rule is: you get leads and sales by doing all the other points in this article effectively.

* Talk about projects you work on, trade shows, campaigns, challenges your company faces.
* Share new valuable applications for your products and service.
* Don’t push credibility by over blowing the real value of what you have.
* If you have followers that are looking for deals twitter is great for getting the word out.
BUT – if you’re brand isn’t about using twitter as a sales generation channel you can risk turning followers off when you do try to sell as you may be contradicting your prior brand image.
If you push too hard you’ll know, followers will drop off or you simply won’t see any results.

Retweet other people’s tweets
* Similar to an email forward, if you like the tweet, retweet it.
To do so, just put RT: @username in front of the contents of the tweet.
* Ideas become viral, products/services don’t.
TIP: use to track how many times a tweet has been retweeted
* Create relationship value by helping others solve problems or find solutions.

Share your lifestyle
Most overlooked, share a part of who you are. Just like offline talk, people want to know who you are.
* People want to see how your successes match up with your lifestyle.
* If you’re a self made millionaire, share info on the holidays you’re taking.
* If you’re an up and coming expert, go to events and tell people about the celebrity experts you met.
* If you believe in a 4-hr workweek, share details about your outsourced life.
* Results sell, you don’t have to.
* Make your comments relevant to your brand otherwise it can cause confusion and put people off.
* One of the biggest musts of social media is build trust by being genuine.

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