Let me say from the start that I’m an unabashed fan of Twitter.
I joined the social network site in 2008. After writing a blog and a book, signing up for Twitter has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s helped my career and put money in my pocket. I’ve met some great people, some of whom are now real-life friends. I’ve learned a lot from 140 characters and all those links I’ve clicked. Today, more than 39,000 tweets later, I’m still on Twitter. And you should be too–especially if you’re prospecting for cause marketing partners. But don’t take my word for it. Ask the folks in sales what site they use the most for prospecting. It’s not LinkedIn. It’s Twitter.
WHY TWITTER INSTEAD OF LINKEDIN FOR PROSPECTING?
According to this study featured on Forbes.com, Twitter is the #1 social site used within the sales process. It was followed by the usual suspects: LinkedIn, Facebook and Google +. Slideshare came in at #7. While there are several reasons that sales pros prefer Twitter, it comes down to one word: access.
TWITTER IS LESS HIERARCHICAL AND FORMAL THAN OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS.
Most LinkedIn users still prefer to connect with people they know. On the other hand, Twitter users are more open to connecting and tweeting with strangers. There’s less risk with Twitter as people don’t feel like they are letting you into their world. Approving an invite request on LinkedIn is different.
Hierarchy is also less of an issue on Twitter than it is on LinkedIn. As one sales manager pointed out about Twitter:
Where else can you start a conversation with a Fortune 500 CEO and get into a conversation within minutes? Social selling is all about getting involved in conversations. At the right time, with the right people. No other platform allows you to do that.
TWITTER OFFERS MORE REAL-TIME INFORMATION.
I segment prospects into a list that I can easily follow. If they’re active on Twitter–and not just “on Twitter”–I can see everything. This includes the user’s professional and personal interests, who they are following and the tweets they are sharing and recommending. Twitter tells me a lot. And while it doesn’t tell me what they studied in college or where they worked ten years ago, I really don’t care about that information anyway. Twitter tells me what’s happening now. Here’s an example of how I’ve used Twitter for prospecting.
A few months ago I discovered a good prospect for my consulting services. I followed her on Twitter and added her to a special list of prospects. From following her on Twitter, I learned:
- She travels a lot, mostly within the United States.
- She’s passionate about her work and the work of others in her field.
- She retweets the content she likes.
- She has two children with whom she’s very involved.
- She exercises a lot, even when she’s on the road.
Here’s how I used my Twitter handle to connect with this prospect:
- I shared several links related to the things she was tweeting.
- I made a point to retweet (or RT) some of her content to my followers.
- I commented to her on all the traveling she does.
- Once or twice I commented on her marathoning. She replied “Have you ever run a marathon?” “I’ve run three,” I replied. “But that was 25 pounds ago,” I added. “LOL!” she responded.
Last month, I got an email from her assistant. My contact was planning a trip to Boston soon and wanted to meet. A week later, I finally met my Twitter friend at a Starbucks in downtown Boston.
Could you do what I did on LinkedIn? I don’t think so. There’s no dialogue like there is on Twitter. Twitter isn’t formal. It’s informal. But when used well it can become personal, which is when the magic happens in prospecting.
TWITTER HASHTAGS ARE MY WINGMEN.
My prospects come from all over. Some are businesses. Others are nonprofits. I also work with agencies. Thanks to Twitter, I don’t have to go searching for organizations that are interested in cause marketing. I just watch for who’s using the hashtag #causemarketing and the prospects come rolling in.
I also like to follow conference hashtags (e.g. #SXSW, the hashtag for the annual South by Southwest Conference in Austin). After I create a Twitter list with the hashtag, I search for keywords within tweets, like fundraising, cause, nonprofit and sponsorship. This allows me to find new, qualified leads with minimal effort.