How To Fail At Using Twitter To Drum Up Business
Several times over the past few months I have received some ridiculous communications via Twitter from freelancers or small businesses who obviously are new to Twitter and have clearly decided to jump on the social media marketing bandwagon in an attempt to utilize the tool to find new clients. The reason I say these exchanges are ridiculous is because they have been asking me – a web designer – if I would like to hire them to do web design! Not asking if they can assist me or if I need an outsourcing contact, but flat out asking me to hire them to design a website!
Here’s the probable scenario:
- 1. A freelancer or web design agency reads an article or two about social media monitoring and decides to set up some way to monitor certain keywords on Twitter, such as “design” or “web design” or “redesign”.
- 2. As tweets show up mentioning something about web design, the person (or automated tool) monitoring them immediately sends a response, asking how they can help with the project.
- 3. If they’re lucky, the person behind the original tweet will respond to their request and send them contact info, and a new lead is born!
Sounds like a good plan, right?
Unfortunately there are a few missing steps that are key to this working correctly, especially on a social media platform such as Twitter.
I have written a few articles about how I have learned to attract clients on Twitter (you can read one here and another here). I would not say I am an expert by any stretch, but I have had some pretty phenomenal success for my one-man web and graphic design business. One of the things I have found interesting in the discussions I’ve had with others is that many people have expressed their inability to attract clients using social media. Over and over I have told them that they need to stop trying to sell their services and instead try to make real connections and relationships. Herein lies the problem with the above scenario as well.
Thanks to yet another misguided attempt at engaging me as a client for web design recently, I have written this post to help identify some critical steps that are sure to result in failure if you are trying to use social media to drum up business. My hope is that it will provide some much-needed guidance for those that are new or considering diving in, while simultaneously aiming to rid current social media enthusiasts of the annoying, hard-sell marketing spam that is making its way onto our platforms.
Make Your First Contact An Attempt At Selling Something
I don’t know anyone who likes to buy something from a salesman whose initial contact is riddled with desperation for the sale. Even when we walk onto a used car lot, we know we will get bombarded and everyone involved is aware of what is taking place, but a successful salesman will build relationship and rapport before pushing the sale.
A great way to drive potential clients away is make sure they are aware that you only see them as a potential client. Hitting them with an attempt to sell something on your very first contact with them makes the statement loud and clear. It’s akin to a door-to-door salesman trying to work their way into your house. Does anyone ever let those guys in or buy anything from them?
Do NOT Research Your Potential Clients Before Contacting Them
Taking an extra minute or two to check out a potential client’s profile and/or the context of the conversation your monitoring has discovered may save everyone involved some wasted time, aggravation and possible embarrassment for your business. Why in the world would you attempt to sell me the same service I provide for others? Had any of these newcomers taken that extra step to read my profile bio they would have seen that I am a web designer and moved on, rather than exposing themselves with an embarrassing lack of knowledge or time investment.
In the recent debacle I had tweeted about how I just recently updated my portfolio. Someone responded with encouragement, at which point I replied that next would be a redesign of my own site. This is when the culprit jumped in, probably because they were monitoring the word “redesign”. Rather than taking a minute or two to go back a few tweets and determine the context of their keyword usage, they asked me if they could “help” me with the redesign. Needless to say, it was a waste of their time, plus I blocked them and reported them as spam. I doubt that is what they wanted to accomplish, and it could have been avoided with a little extra effort on their part.
Make Sure 100% of Your Communications Are Sales
I don’t make a habit of reporting people for spam simply because they try to sell me something. In this case, I went to their profile to see what they were about, only to discover that every single tweet was an attempt at making a sale. Once I saw this I made sure to report the spammers, not to get them in trouble or to be mean, but because social media is about being social, and they obviously did not get the memo.
Engagement and relationships are the foundation of trust in social media. Those that succeed in using it for marketing have found the balance of interacting with others combined with self-promotion. Most will tell you to give a large majority of your time to generating real connections and engagement, and then a small percentage to marketing. Doing the opposite will get you ignored.
Treat Your Potential Clients As Targets, Not People
Every time I read an article or hear about “reaching your target audience” or “targeting a specific demographic” I wince. I get this image of a laser sight pointed at my forehead. It’s not just an uncomfortable feeling. The terminology itself implies that as your potential client – your target – I am not a human being but a number. A trophy that you desire to mount on your wall of success.
Personally, I like my head resting squarely on my shoulders, thank you, and not mounted on a hunter’s wall. I don’t know of anyone who prefers to be thought of as a target instead of a human being. If you are looking to fail miserably as a social media marketer, drop any pretences of being a real, live, compassionate human being who genuinely cares about the person you are communicating with and you will accomplish your mission.
How To Succeed?
Obviously, if the above points are keys to failure, why not try the opposite if you truly desire to succeed in using Twitter to drum up new business? Sure, it takes a little more time to get to know people and become personally involved with them, but the benefits will usually go far beyond a few new clients.
I have found countless new friends via Twitter, and these are friends who I learn from and engage with almost every day. Some have turned into clients and others have sent potential clients my way. The majority are simply good people who have become a welcome addition and enrichment to my life experience. For me personally, that end result is a true success, not the number of clients I have found.
Why not give it a shot?