Use Social Networking Sites to Create
Relationships With Your Potential Customers
By Phyllis Zimbler Miller
Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn provide
small-to-large size businesses the opportunity to connect with potential
customers at online sites where these potential customers "hang out."
And besides the opportunity to participate in these general communities, you
can drill down to more specific online communities. For example, if you're
selling books by mail, you can join a number of book-focused online
communities, such as
What are the pros and cons of spending time on such online activities?
The only con – and this is not really a con – is that successful
participation in online communities requires investing time and effort in a
consistent online social media plan. If you or someone else in your company
doesn't have the time and knowledge to develop and implement such a
strategy, you will need to pay for outside help.
The pros – let me count the ways: You could spend money on ads in newspapers
and magazines trying to attract your target markets (who often skip right
over the ads). Or you could spend money on online ads (and again your target
markets can ignore these ads).
Then there's the opportunity to interact online at no charge with people who
are interested in what you have to offer.
Let's take Twitter and an imaginary scenario. You sell badminton sets to
schools and individuals. You join Twitter and set up an effective Twitter
profile. (For the links to four blog posts that provide information on doing
Then you use the Twitter search function and look for #badminton. (The # is
called a hash tag on Twitter and denotes a topic.) I just did this and, sure
enough, there are tweets (Twitter's term for updates) on this topic. And now
you can engage in conversation on Twitter with the people who are tweeting
("Engaging in conversations" means answering questions and discussing topics
related to your brand or business.) (See Examples Below)
If you share worthwhile information on Twitter and on your company website
about badminton, you are developing an online relationship with potential
badminton set buyers. And when these people are ready to buy a badminton set
for their school or family, they'll probably think of you rather than of an
impersonal website with whom they have no relationship.
Now it's true that some businesses immediately "take" to this new method of
engaging potential customers, while other businesses may have a harder time
adjusting to sharing information first and selling second.
What's important is to realize that this evolution in selling is here to
stay, and the sooner your business jumps on the bandwagon, the sooner you
have the advantage over your competitors who haven't yet adapted.
Step up to the plate now and start learning how to swing your social media
strategy out of the park.
Engaging in Conversations on Twitter
While many of your tweets will be "general broadcasts" (such as: Just
finished reading the terrific how-to LinkedIn book RockTheWorld by Mike
O'Neil), your tweets can also be directed to someone by the simple step of
including that person's Twitter username in your tweet preceded by the @.
Here's an example:
Let's say @MillerMosaicLLC tweets: @ZimblerMiller Are you going to be at the
tweetup in LA today?
Then I tweet back: @MillerMosaicLLC Yes, I'm planning to attend. Hope to see
Both these tweets are in the public stream that can be seen by anyone. But I
have put a specific username in the tweet to ensure that this tweet goes
into the reply box of @MillerMosaicLLC.
This use of @MillerMosaicLLC is important because we can't see all the
tweets that go through our stream. So we routinely check our replies in
order to see what tweets have been addressed to us specifically. (The reply
box is found on your home page; mine says: @ZimblerMiller – meaning those
tweets that are addressed to @ZimblerMiller)
FYI – I use tweetbeep.com
to alert me when someone uses Phyllis Zimbler Miller in a tweet. This use of
my full name wouldn't be picked up in my reply box, and it's important to
know who is talking about you.
Now another reply example:
If I tweet this general question: What kind of badminton racket is best for
And you see this tweet and can answer the question, you would tweet: @ZimblerMiller
The best kind of racket is ..........
Because you put my username in the tweet, I will be sure to see your reply
when I check my replies.
And then, following Twitter etiquette, I would tweet you back using your
Twitter username and thank you for the information. You could then see this
reply in your reply box.
In my opinion the best part of engaging in conversation on Twitter? People
are limited to 140 characters per tweet, so they have to learn to write
succinctly rather than going on and on in an email.
About the Author:
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The
Wharton School and is the Twitter marketing expert at
If you liked this article, you'll love her company's FREE report on "How to
Become a Twitter Marketing Expert" – claim your report now from
Follow me at
http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller and engage in conversation with me.