Problem: You're struggling to build a relevant following on Twitter.
Solution: Use Twitter search. Of course, this isn't the full solution, but a nice place to start... I'm often surprised when I chat to business owners or marketers who have never really explored the possibilities that searching via Twitter can uncover. Many people strive to build a big following, but why not strive to grow a big and relevant following?
I have a client that produces a most excellent product that helps teething babies. What's the most obvious market for their product? Mothers of babies who may be teething. What do many mothers love? Twitter. Where do many mothers chat with other mothers about being mothers? Twitter. So, we are going to search for mothers mentioning teething and their babies. We want to target people in the UK, so we will narrow the search to target London and 500 miles around it. I use Sprout Social's discovery tool for this type of search. Once the search is complete, you'll see a number of tweets - you need to take a bit of time to make sure they are 'real' tweets as opposed to bots firing out hashtag nonsense. Not all tweets will be relevant. What are the gems that you're looking for? Here's an example:
What next? Well, why not try and help out with the question? You may have teething related info on your site or blog? Share that with her. You may need to go and find an article or resource from the web that will help (make sure you read the whole thing and sense-check it) and send that on. Sound like hard work? It isn't and it goes a long way to building a great relationship with a potential customer. Don't forget to follow them, they are very relevant and the chances of them following back are hugely increased due to your helpful nature.
Think about what you're looking for. Image - Creative Commons via http://www.flickr.com/photos/10233916@N03/
Should I sell?
The social media purists out there will spit their coffee all over their screens, but yes, you should - but only in the right circumstance. For example, if the lady above had asked for tips on teething products, then that is the perfect opportunity to tweet her a link to your product. Don't just say 'Try our product - link' - Say hello, send them a link and offer to answer any questions they may have. It is selling, but in a relevant fashion.
Relevance should be at the front of your mind
Big follower numbers may look good from a vanity perspective, but if you can leave your ego to the side and focus and building a relevant Twitter following that actually takes action, then you're onto a winner. This simple technique is nothing spectacular or complex, but it is an effective way to achieve just that.