The 9 Things a B2B Should Be Doing on Twitter

Twitter is closing in on its 5thanniversary, which is kinda old in contempo-startup world.  Even though I jumped on the blogging bandwagon fairly early, and the Tumblr bandwagon almost immediately, I spent about the first four years of Twitter’s existence scoffing at it. I was one of the myriad “twitter-is-for-c-list-celebutards-oggling-eachothers’-french-toast-stix” kvetchers. And then, I graduated, got a job and realized that, as far as the B2B world is concerned, Twitter is maybe the best thing since trade shows.

Why? Because it humanizes a sector that is inherently barricaded. Those French toast stix pix? Humanizing. Because B2B employees eat breakfast too, yo.

But seriously, what Twitter provides is a direct path to both the direct customer and the indirect end-user.  It provides a steady and constantly updated stream of industry news, gossip and watercooler fodder. It provides guppies with a way to swim with sharks. It’s like a virtual bar crawl where cred isn’t a credential.

There are many, many things you can do with Twitter, but here are 9 things you should do, if you’re a B2B selling an intangible product. Or even if you’re a B2C selling a tangible one.

1. Tweet original, industry relevant content. This can be in the form of thoughts (“So excited to get mah handz on Denali!”) or captions coupled with links to blog posts. But, if you’re doing the latter, please don’t tweet about the same post more than twice. Spam is fattening, and bad for your heart.

2. Tweet links to others’ industry-relevant content. This serves an informative purpose, an “aren’t I an uber-curator” purpose and a lend-a-friend-a-hand purpose.

3. @ reply. You know that whole “speak when you’ve been spoken to” rule? That flies out the window in twitterland. @ing lets the @ed know that you dig his thoughts. And compliments are good for everyone.

4. RT. RTing is the lazy man’s  @ reply. It also republishes the original tweet, though, so through laziness comes a good deed.

5. Answer questions. They can be industry-related, but they don’t have to be. What’s important, marketing-wise, is that the asker is relevant. Which is why @SQLRockstar’s bacon-related tweets get so much lip service.

6. Use an aggregator like Hootsuite to:

a. Listen to those you already follow

b. See who’s @ed and RTed you

c. Track relevant keywords (and @ reply, RT or possibly start following their tweeters)

d. Track brand and product mentions (even if they happen once in the bluest of moons)

7. Find new people to follow by looking at who your favorite tweeters follow, RT and @ reply.

8. Flatter your favorite tweeters by listing them. I have lists for .NET, SQL, SharePoint, Mobile, BlackBerry, journalists and other people of influence and our own team.

9. Work those hashtags. A hashtag is just a word or a phrase with a # appended to its first letter. Sometimes the word is trending, which means if you use it, people searching for it might see your tweet. Most events now have their own hashtags, so the next time a relevant one is going on (whether you’re attending or not), tweet about it. What happens in Vegas makes me want to go to #mix11.

You can also make up your own hashtags—no one will come after you, and you may even kickstart a trend. I’ve been known to use hashtags outside of twitterland, to great confusion and personal merriment. #vivafinneganswakeredux

Got a tenth thing? Let me know in the comments!

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