Most people think of Twitter as a real-time news feed where people share what's happening in 140 characters or less. But, did you know that Twitter can be a powerful tool that can boost your business and capture leads without ever sending one tweet? If you're not convinced that Twitter is for you because the idea of tweeting on a regular basis seems daunting, here are three ways to use Twitter to boost your business and get leads without ever sending one tweet.
First, you'll have to set up a Twitter account. If you're not going to use Twitter to tweet, I would suggest setting up a username that is associated with your personal name and email.
- Power Search
Want to find people that are looking for your products or services? By setting up searches in Twitter with keywords, much like you would in internet search engines, you can find and connect with people searching for you. If you use a free dashboard tool such as Hootsuite, you can set those searches up in columns on one page so they are easy to monitor. Here's a link to the Hootsuite quick start guide.
For example, if you're selling real estate and specialize in vacation homes, you can set up a search on Twitter with words like vacation, real estate, your hometown name, state name, and other key search words. Try the search tool out to see which keywords generate traffic and then save the searches that produce results in a column on your dashboard. Setting up a search on Twitter is very similar to setting up a search on Google.
Or, if you sell cameras, maybe you'd want to search a specific brand of camera, or type of photography. You can also narrow your search by geographic area. The screenshot below shows the advanced search page on Twitter and the field to add a location to your search is circled. Also, there is a link on the advance search page to a list of common operators that will help you put together a more effective search.
- Power Research
If you're looking to gather research about your sector, your brand, competitor's products, or peers, Twitter lists and hashtags are the way to go. You don't have to follow people on Twitter to keep up with them. Just put them on a list. If you don't want your lists to be visible by the public, make sure you lock them. Also, you can make columns in Hootsuite or other Twitter aggregation dashboards for popular hashtags.
To list people under certain topics, search Twitter for people in your sector that are tweeting good information. If you know of people in your sector that are active in Twitter, just search for them in the search box on the Twitter home page. You can browse categories and search for people on the "@connect" tab on the Twitter home page. Here's a good resource for making lists from the Twitter help center. The main difference between lists and following is that if you list someone, they do not count on your "following" number. I maintain several lists on different topics so I can follow news in different sectors at a glance.
Following hashtags (#) is also a good way to find influencers and information on a subject. Tweeters often tag their tweets on a certain subject with a hashtag so others can reference them easily. For instance, I follow the #CrisisPR hashtag to find out the latest news and links on crisis management. I also follow the #highered hashtag to keep up on tweets in that sector. The "#Discover" tab on your Twitter homepage can help you find hashtags that will help you. Also, you can set up a hashtag as a column on your Twitter dashboard much as you would a search term so you can follow it easily.
- Create Powerful Events
Want to create buzz and excitement around an event? Consider having an event hashtag so participants can share their observations and comments in real-time. Try to come up with a hashtag that is less than ten characters, if possible, so you leave room for tweets. Remember, each tweet has to include the hashtag for people to be able to follow. It's amazing how having a live Twitter conversation during an event can ramp up people's involvement. I went to one event two years ago (#casesmc) that still has an active hashtag today. The participants are still tagging tweets about social media in higher education to keep the buzz going.
This summer, I attended the College Sports Information Directors of America conference in St. Louis. We set up a big screen TV in the lobby outside the main meeting room and hooked it up to a computer that ran just the event hashtag. Hootsuite hosts a program that allows you to show one running stream full screen. Here is the information on how to set up the "Hoot Feed" screen at an event. You could set up several TVs at an event to help generate discussion. Just be sure to advertise your hashtag in all your event materials and post it with signage at all your session venues. I went to one event recently that encouraged participants to follow the organization on Twitter, but neglected to set up a hashtag for the event. That makes it almost impossible to follow the conversations at the event.
If you've got more suggestions on how to use Twitter without tweeting, please be sure and post a comment with your suggestion. There's power in Twitter, even if you don't tweet.