For many of us, Twitter is a good news/bad news social networking site. The good news is it's super popular and it seems like everyone is using it. The bad news is that for the newbie Twitter person (and even if you've been on this site for a while) it can be confusing to know what is working, what isn't, and what's actually making a difference.
After more than two years on Twitter, I've learned a lot of lessons - both in using Twitter to maximize your marketing goals as well as learning how to turn your Twitter tribe into engaged Twitter buyers. The list I've culled here isn't new information, but I tried to present it in such a way that it will show you how to monetize Twitter and maximize it towards your Twitter efforts.
1) Be helpful first: believe it or not, the first piece of selling isn't to sell, it's to be helpful. As a guide for your market, you should be a "voice," an opinion maker, and also - offer helpful insight, tips, guidance. By being helpful, you will build trust and people buy from someone they trust. Be helpful first, and a salesperson second.
2) Ask for what you want: when followers are inundated with messages, you need to ask for what you want. If you want a sale, offer them a special buy-in, offer them something they can't get anywhere else, then offer this in a shorter period of time. Meaning, only make the offer for a day, an hour, or a few days - depending on the sale. This dials into #3 but bears repeating anyway...
3) Offer exclusives: this is possibly one of the biggest keys to Twitter. If you don't offer your followers something they can't get anywhere else, they may not take your sales pitch very seriously. Offer specials and select offers exclusively to your followers. Not only will they be getting something unique, but you will make them feel special.
4) Follow your customers: be sure and follow the people who are your customers or those you'd like to engage in your product or services. This is key: to know who they are and what their needs are. You'll gain this insight by following them.
5) Ask for help: if you need help, insight, whatever - ask for it. The best way to engage on Twitter and to build your following and enhance the trust factor is to converse, which leads me to point #6:
6) Create Community! Don't broadcast, communicate. If you want to turn a follower into a buyer, they'll need to feel like more than just a number on your Twitter-counter. Communicate with your Twitter-peeps and make them feel a part of your community. When someone feels a part of your community, they will be more likely to buy from you. People buy from people they trust. You build that trust factor by not just being a megaphone for information, but by conversing with your community.
7) Become a filter. People buy from people they trust, that's point #1. The second piece to this is that people buy from people who seem to be the experts. When you become a filter, i.e. the go-to place for all things related to your topic, you'll build strong, engaged followers who will be inclined to buy from you. Being a filter can take a lot of forms. You might comment on news topics, share interesting blog posts, or tweet on a new book or product review. Again, become the expert in your field and people will view you as such.
The key to selling on Twitter is not to sell per se, but to build trust and community with your followers. It's really not that different from your corner store. Maybe you go there because it's close, but more than likely you go there because you trust them. You know they'll have everything you need and you trust what they have is good, quality product. The same is true online, in fact, even more so. Your followers don't have the luxury of meandering into your "store," so you have to build that trust another way. You build that through engagement, interaction and the quality of information. Build the pathways, build the trust and the sales will follow. But, if you try to capture the dollars before you build your foundation you'll find that your followers will leave you and sales will fall short.