5 Ways for B2B Companies to Engage on Twitter

Just as B2B sales relationships aren’t built over night, sustained B2B Twitter relationships – often the basis for industry insight, lead generation and media coverage – require a commitment to engagement. When considering and crafting Twitter contributor, monitoring and legality strategies to support B2B sales efforts, it’s also important to think about how your company can leverage two-way communication.

Here are five ways to approach B2B Twitter engagement:

1. Original content

While it may seem like a no-brainer, it’s easy to get so caught up in sharing other Twitter users’ original content – such as industry news articles or upcoming conferences – that business accounts can lose any sense of value for existing or new followers. If you don’t have a blog that’s being updated on a weekly basis, re-purpose eNewsletter content, news releases or field updates. The more non-promotional, the more valuable.

If nothing else, take Twitter at its micro-blogging face value: With a blog editorial calendar-like mentality, draft 140-character tips, observations and FAQs that act as mini, distilled blog posts.

2. Retweets

Sharing information on Twitter that you found valuable for your B2B operation helps to both demonstrate your stake in the industry and recognize users you follow on Twitter as valuable sources of information. Retweeting customers, trade and national media outlets, and industry associations helps to build affiliation, trust and camaraderie. When appropriate, offer your own commentary on the tweet or its linked information. However, always attribute the original source for each tweet.

3. On-the-ground updates

The beauty of Twitter is its mobility. While live-blogging and video blogging can sometimes be difficult, Twitter allows users to update followers from wherever they are. For B2B companies that employ sales teams spread out across multiple regions or that attend trade shows to support lead generation, this is a key point.

Instead of posting tweets from a cubicle, utilize Twitter to post “from the field” tweets that offer up information no one else could post. While your competitors might be tweeting about the same trade magazine article in everyone’s feed reader, tweets such as “Just had a great conversation with the manager of Smith Inc. in Atlanta” or “About to head into a keynote speaker presentation – what questions would you have on IT policies for B2B companies?” show your company has its hands in issues and events across the industry.

4. Hashtag monitoring

Just like your company should know the keywords that bring visitors to its B2B website, it should identify hashtags and keywords that your target demographics use to share and find information. People rarely follow broad search terms such as #socialmedia, #business or #distributors. Instead, they focus on niche qualifiers around specific industry terms, weekly Twitter chats, locations and conferences.

Once you know what hashtags are most often connected to the types of information your company is interested in, set up searches on Twitter to passively pull in tweets that mention them. This gives you an opportunity to follow Twitter users who tag their tweets, reply to questions that your business is qualified to answer and get a general feel for how your target audience behaves on Twitter. Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite make hashtag monitoring easy, but you can also set up RSS feeds using Twitter’s search engine.

5. Personality tweets

Just like you wouldn’t attend a networking event and talk exclusively about your company, tweets don’t have to be straight-up product, company and industry oriented all of the time. Think of Twitter as a cocktail party, where comments about the weather, family, pop culture and general observations help color conversations. Although Twitter gets a bad rap as that “What I Had For Lunch” tool, your followers can better relate and engage with you if you present yourself as a real human being with real interests – that might be outside of your everyday industry updates.

“Personality tweets” often work best when the account is managed by one person clearly referenced in the profile bio, as consistency in tone and voice can help to manage followers’ expectations. However, if your account has multiple contributors, mark tweets with users’ initials to build a similar foundation for personal connections.

What other ways is your B2B company engaging with followers on Twitter?

Comments

  1. Noah Knoble says

    Great article, I really enjoyed your tips. I would like to see something written similar to this article about FB. Can anyone point me to something that fits the bill?

    Thanks,

    -Noah

  2. says

    Good post here, Karlie.

    I’d stress that one of the most powerful aspects of Twitter – especially for B2B lies in real time search. #tags are great and very useful for events, but you can also set up some pretty advance filters on keywords related to any conversation you want and find connections who match your audience and business objectives. Very useful in B2B.

    As well, B2B folks should be using third party aggregators like Hootsuite, Seemic, etc. Setting up columns and sorting the followers you want to keep on radar is essential to making twitter work for your biz.

  3. says

    These are five great Twitter tips for B2B. I’m a fan of tracking keywords in quotes for exact match of people’s names, competitors and other keywords. As you point out, it’s valuable to set up RSS feeds for a dashboard of keyword tracking. This tactic can provide valuable insights into real time market actions.

  4. says

    Thanks for the comments, guys!

    Noah – I agree that there is also an “art” to Facebook status updates in the same way as Twitter. I think that’s a great idea for a future post here on SMB2B, but until then check out this article: http://www.themarketingspotblog.com/2010/08/facebook-posting-strategy.html

    Nate and Bernie – I agree keywords are also important, and Bernie’s point about quotation marks is a good one. The great thing about Twitter is its reach – but that also can mean you have to be very specific and try a few different things to hone in on what you want.

  5. says

    Karlie, great article, perfect for our clients, who are B2B sales and marketing decision makers trying to make sense of social media. So useful, I’ve posted to our company blog. Thanks!

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