Tips on building a b2b presence on twitter

Many business to business publishers and other organisations targeting senior executives are a little wary of twitter and not sure how to use it to grow their reputation, web traffic and ultimately lead generation and revenue.  Somehow twitter often looks just a little bit trivial for a business audience.  But there are real benefits in using it, even in less techy markets, as a research tool, news feed, customer service channel and additional publishing platform.  Here’s some simple principles, gathered from b2b businesses I know, including one publisher which has grown its following three-fold in the last year.

1. Structure your accounts carefully

If your audience are clearly segmented, or your organisation generates different streams of news and information, consider structuring your accounts so followers don’t get swamped with irrelevant content and lose the valuable nuggets.   Plan the editorial guidelines and responsibilities for each account, and build up frequency of posts gradually.  Far better to start small and build up than embark with ambitious targets and then peter out.  A mix of “brand” and “individual” accounts works well, and manages the risk if key staff leave and take their twitter following with them

2. Use all your owned media to promote

Never miss a trick to promote your twitter feed: add to your website, email newsletters, personal email signatures, all printed promotional material, business cards, live events, retail outlets et al.  Add accounts to linked-in profiles, and blogs, and quote the “@account” on facebook.

3. Ask questions around your articles; be contentious!

If you run a blog or regularly publish relevant articles on your website, that provides a low effort source of tweets.  Use a URL shortener like bit.ly or the built in shorteners in free tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck to save characters.  Keep it simple by repeating the article headline, or turn it into a question or make a little more contentious.  You can measure the success of your tweets by the number of retweets, and also log the referral traffic to that site using Google Analytics.  You’ll quickly learn what interests your audience.  At first you may be despondent that your follower numbers are low, but your past tweets are part of the reason for others to start following, so they are a useful investment.

4. Run offers and competitions

Offer a free trial, a free download or a competition to twitter followers.  Promote this on your own media ie website and email.  Encourage suggestions and ideas.  B2B publisher Research posted codes for trial subscriptions on twitter and also ran a competition to name a grant funding programme.

5. Join in relevant conversations

Use event hashtags to comment on speakers and debates, and provide a summary for your followers.  Join in relevant discussions.  Thank people who retweet or mention you.  Praise your suppliers and business partners.  Most b2b communities are quite small and incestuous, so word gets round and that raises your organisation’s profile.

Worth reading the full article on Research’s twitter growth here. They are the latest addition to the 2012  shortlist for the Media Pioneer Awards, which recognise innovation in specialist publishing markets.

About the author: Carolyn Morgan works with niche media businesses on their digital publishing and marketing strategy, through consulting firm Penmaen Media. Carolyn regularly writes for media trade press and speaks at conferences on the challenges of digital publishing.  She also runs the Specialist Media Show, a conferenc e, exhibition and workshop programme for niche publishers.  Carolyn moderates the Specialist Media Network on LinkedIn, a community of over 800 niche publishers who swap ideas and contacts.  Request to join here.

If you’d like a bespoke session for your business on how to use twitter more strategically to build influence and generate leads, please get in touch.

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