Welcome back to the third and final installment of the B2B Community Manager’s Guide To Identifying True Twitter Friends. In our first two episodes, we explored hands-on tactics for locating target audiences on Twitter based on topical conversations, categories, content consumed, and respected power-users.
By leveraging tweet-based search engines, user-powered directories, Twitter lists and other tools, both advanced and basic, we were able to hone in on potential customers, or in the very least, valued community members.
Now that you, a B2B community manger, have capitalized on these tactics and compiled a spreadsheet of a few dozen target BFF candidates– with columns featuring name, Twitter handle, location, bio, follower-to-following ratio, links to additional social profiles, personal notes, and any other significant information– you’re ready to charge forth and tactically (not to mention tactfully) connect with said users.
There are loads of resourceful posts that highlight holistic social media tactics for businesses, both B2B and B2C, to approach and thoughtfully engage customers using Twitter. Before engaging with potential friends or buyers, it’s essential for brands and community managers to take a step back and ask the question:
“Are we giving people a reason to want to engage with us?”
Here’s a 4 point audit to assess how your B2B Twitter brand can become more believable, beneficial, and beloved, i.e. worth talking to. Some routes require buy-in from the C-suite, and some require boots-on-the-ground journalism.When optimized in unison, these elements can seriously boost your brand’s likability levels in the Twittersphere.
1. Who You Are
Well, who are you? This isn’t a philosophical issue. It’s about identity, i.e. the voice and avatar you use as you tweet on behalf of the company. First, lets tackle voice. Put on your grammar caps.
- Third-Person Singular. Are you tweeting in the third-person, as if you’re a press secretary for the brand? E.g.: “Company X is proud to announce its new, better product!” On a left-to-right spectrum of Boring to Beloved, tweeting in the third-person is leaning towards the left. Unless you have the luxury of working for an already-adored legacy brand with a logo people want to talk to, third-person isn’t very engaging. Let’s move on.
- First-Person Plural. Oui, oui! Or rather: “We, we.” Make that: So-so. First-person plural gives tweets a touch more personality, but there’s still a disconnect between @CompanyX and target-friend @CustomerBob. The community manager for @CompanyX is speaking on behalf of the brand, but he/she’s still just one person, as is Bob on the other side of the monitor. If he doesn’t know or understand which part of the “Royal We” he’s talking to, he might be less likely to let his guard down and really connect.
- First-Person Singular. If you get buy-in from your brand, first-person singular is a choice voice to embrace. This is one time it’s not only justified, but effective, to make it all about “Me, Me, Me, I, I, I.” On the spectrum from Boring to Beloved, this baby is off the charts. Direct, engaging, transparent—when you tweet at @CustomerBob, “Hey! I hope you’re having a great day, Bob =),” you’re almost guaranteed a genuine response, provided Bob’s up for chatting.
Examine your brand’s Twitter avatar (profile picture) with a similar spectrum in mind. Of course, it is important to maintain the company’s branded image, but a logo avatar isn’t always the best, or most engaging, solution.
Consider testing the effectiveness of a Community Manager headshot vs. branded logo to see which pictorial representation users respond to more.
2. How You Talk
Repeat after me: “I do not fear smiley faces.” Alright, so not every tweet has to squeeze in a “=)”, but it is important to observe the conversational habits of your Twitter community, and if allowed, emulate them.
Do they use silly, nonsensical hashtags to emphasize points of view, or instead leverage legit hashtags to tap into trending conversations? Does a majority seem to use “LOLZ!!!” over a quieter “hehe”?
Twitter is a good platform for public relations, but chiefly, it is embraced as a tool for human-to-human communication. Consider injecting an appropriate amount of casual vernacular into tweets (dare I say… mild Internetwebz slang? #justsayin) to create more colloquial, personable vibe, and move away from a stone-faced PR façade.
In short, attempt to speak as your community speaks… within reason.
3. What You Talk About
Adopting the first person voice is ideal, but that doesn’t mean it’s cool to talk about yourself (i.e. your company) all the time. Make a commitment to chat with folks about things unrelated to your brand, or even your industry, and do your best to stick to it.
Community management best practices point to the “80/20 Rule” – with 80% of your stream dedicated to “Hi, how’s it going?” type tweets as well as sharing third-party, non-competitive, complimentary content, and 20% to branded content.
Remember: Your aim is to connect with professionals on business-related matters; that said, be realistic about the fact that they have interests beyond their profession. The results of your openness to shoot the breeze about last night’s baseball game or how great the weather is today may turn heads, turn into friendships, or even create brand evangelists in the long run.
4. Where You Go
A fantastic way to stay in the vertical-specific vein of conversation without being self-promotional 24/7 is to attend industry conferences, conventions, seminars, events, and the like. Take the opportunity not only to learn more, but to share knowledge with your community.
Live-tweeting and broadcasting blog coverage of said get-togethers can be your ticket to becoming recognized as an eager and enthusiastic authority among your niche. It’s also a valuable way for you to share important information without being self-serving.
Armed with this roadmap to a more beloved B2B brand on Twitter, go forth, and start engaging your target community!