Like most of the rest of the planet, I finally succumbed to the mania and began using the Twitter micro-blogging service last month. If nothing else, I figured I’d learn whether posting 140-character messages on the Web could help me make money in a downturn.

After several weeks of “tweeting” (or posting) an average of once a day, I’m impressed. My objective is to raise awareness of my lead-generation services and to find customers and/or partners to for them. First, I used TwitterSearch (think Google for Twitter) to find others whose posts included terms that describe my offerings, such as  “B2B,” “lead generation” “email marketing” and “prospect scoring.” By “following” them (I now see their updates) I get a real-time feel for what others in my interest area are thinking, hearing, seeing. Through them I see links to new articles, real-time reports from industry conferences and even updates on conversations they just had. The benefit: Real-time, free, market intelligence.

Next, where appropriate, I began responding to their Tweets, offering questions, observations, follow-on thoughts, etc. The benefit: Some of these other thought leaders began following me, listening to what I had to say, giving me at the least the potential ear of customers, partners, etc. I would never have otherwise found.

Finally, I began posting my own Tweets, but only when I had something worthwhile to offer. If I see an interesting article/blog post, or have what I think is an insight, I post it (wherever possible, with a link to an article, story, etc.) Whenever I blog on these issues, I post a short summary on Twitter with a link to my blog. The more I “tweet” the more like it has anyone searching for the things I’m writing about will find me and possibly follow me. The benefit: With a small amount of effort, I’m creating relationships and a reputation among potential customers and partners I would never have otherwise found.

Dollars generated to date through Twitter?  Zero. But like any marketing effort this is a long-term game. What impresses me is that within only a few weeks the quality of networking and education is close to as good as what I would get from a trade show, at far less cost in time and money.  Furthermore, the conversation is ongoing and ever-expanding, both in number of contacts and topics of conversation.

A few final tips:  1) If you haven’t already, download TweetDeck, an application that makes it far easier to track updates and condense links to fit Twitter’s 140-character limit. 2) If you’re in it for money and not fun, limit “fun” Tweets like ““Go Tarheels” to one in every five or ten Tweets. 2) I limit who I follow fairly rigorously, to those who Tweet about what I care about. Trying to follow too-many “social” Tweets quickly gets overwhelming for me. 4) Give, give, give (good content, helpful advice, insights from an interview, a report from a trade show) before you take (in the form of a sales pitch, however muted.) Twitter is all about relationship building, and the spammers and self-promoters stick out like a sore thumb.

Look for further reports as I move beyond the neophyte stage and you can, in the meantime, follow me at #BobScheier. Happy Tweeting!

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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