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Twitter 101 for Social Selling

Twitter often feels like a big stretch for people; even for those who are already using LinkedIn for social selling. Twitter has more than 215 million active users with 500 million tweets sent every day. So although that’s the good news, it can seem like an overwhelming, confusing stream of everything-ness.  Some of those tweets are from your buyers and the people your buyer listens to. So, it’s an important complement to LinkedIn as your updates and interactions offer you an opportunity to build your personal brand and connect with a wider, more expansive audience than your connections on LinkedIn. You just don’t want it to feel so expansive that you can’t manage it all.

Let’s do a quick refresher of the essential components of social selling, which are in fact, quite similar to those of traditional sales:

1) Listen to your prospects and better understand their problems.

2) Expand your network and build relationships with people who may be interested in your service or product as well as with influencers within your industry.

3) Provide expertise and insights about what’s going on in your industry to build trusting relationships.

4) Address specifically how your product might solve their problem.


Today, 60-70% of the buying process, including the four crucial steps mentioned above are being conducted online and on social networks – with or without you. You have good reason to be on Twitter.


5 Steps to Use Twitter for Social Selling


Step 1. Set Up Organized Feeds

It’s impossible to read your main feed in Twitter and to be able to efficiently extract the information you need. It’s too confusing. The solution is to set up feeds centered around specific people or subjects. I’m going to discuss how to do this in the Twitter app itself, but if you find you want better customization of your streams I recommend using Hootsuite.

**You’ll want to set up Lists and Saved Searches.**



Lists in Twitter are your personalized groups of people by subject.

Lists on Twitter



List examples


A) Start with creating these four main groups: company, competition, industry and prospects.  Write the names or companies down on a paper, or in a document for each category. You can even tag names in your contact database if that’s easier. Especially if you’re doing this for the first time I recommend you develop a list of the top people in your groups before you begin searching and adding actual handles to Lists.


  • Colleagues, other sales reps and leadership within your company
  • Your company’s Twitter account (put out by marketing and / or other division)
  • Twitter accounts for specific products you sell


  • Competitor’s Twitter account (put out by marketing or other division)
  • Specific sales, account reps or executive staff at your competition that you know well or that have a strong voice in your industry


  • Industry organizations and/or magazines
  • Thought leaders. You’ll know who these people are when you keep seeing them pop up using your industry related hashtag [eg. #cybersecurity]
  • Influencers – the people who your buyer listens to the most. – One way you’ll know who these people are, is by seeing who your buyer interacts with most often.


  • Individual prospect’s Twitter account
  • Prospect’s company Twitter account


B) Now, search these people or accounts to find their Twitter handles, and add them to their respective List. **MAKE SURE YOU SET UP THESE LISTS ARE PRIVATE – not PUBLIC.**

Add Twitter account to list


Tip: Review this detailed how-to about creating and editing lists in Twitter.



The second type of categorized feed can be done in Search. Saved Searches can be individuals, keywords or hashtags.

For example you may want to see all the tweets that use your industry’s keywords such as  ”Social CRM” or the hashtag #cybersecurity. Enter a term or category (#hashtag) in the search box and then save that search. Review your saved searches by putting your cursor in the search field to see a drop down list of both saved searches and recent searches and click on the one you want.

Twitter search


Tip:  Review this helpful primer on how to do a Search in Twitter.


Step 2. Listen

Now that you have Lists and saved searches, you can listen to the specific things that are important to you. When you go to Twitter you can look at your content in individual lists. You can find press releases from your competitors. You can find out your lead or prospect is going to be at the same conference as you next week. Sometimes you can even find out your competitor is engaging with a prospect of yours.

The foundation of listening in social selling is to understand what your buyer is reading and hearing within your industry. By knowing what their concerns are, who they’re talking to, or what their influencers are saying, you, as a sales person can provide insights and value to your prospect about your service or product not based on how great you think your product is, but as an intelligent solution to what you perceive is her problem.

Tip: I recommend you review people’s Lists and Favorites in addition to their main profile to get a deeper understanding of their connections and interests.


Step 3.  Interact and Share Content

Just like you would in any conversation, respond when something is interesting or you have something to say. There are 4 ways to interact:

1) Retweet – Share someone else’s content with your own followers.

2) Reply – When you reply with a comment, it’s more conversational directly communicated to the other person in relation to the tweet you’re replying to.

3) Favorite – If you like someone’s tweet, you can Favorite it by clicking the star. Think of Favoriting as hitting the Like button in Facebook.

4) Share on another social network or via email.

Tip: Social selling is about developing relationships. When you want to start a relationships with someone, start by retweeting or replying to one of their tweets. Don’t just send them a link to your product page.


Step 4. Search for Leads

Twitter’s Advanced Search offers a rather sophisticated but straight-forward way of searching for people in a specific geographic location that are talking about specific topics in a positive or negative way.


Twitter Advanced_Search


Step 5. Create and Share Your Own Content

Start a blog! Remember those influencers you want to follow? You don’t have to wait on them to influence your buyer. You can influence them yourself.

Final Words:  Just start, and be aware that it can take some time to get accustomed to using Twitter. Start with Lists and Saved Searches so the time you spend listening is well spent. It will reduce your frustration factor and make your interactions more targeted and fruitful.

Good luck and please let me know if you have any questions or further insights!


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