Time to read: 3 minutes. Remember the first time you saw a “walking stick” insect? “Wow THAT is not what it seems!” was my reaction. In social media marketing there’s no shortage of people advising you to do things that sound promising but are not in your best interest. They’re being called “best practices.” But like the walking stick bug, these ideas are not as they seem. In fact following them will actually prevent success in your Twitter marketing efforts. Here’s what to do instead.
Best practices are anything but
You’ve probably heard or read advice on what to Tweet and what not to, when and why. For instance experts say you should be followed by as many people as possible. Common success metrics include number of followers and number of times messages are re-tweeted. But the real opportunity social media presents is to evolve — become more relevant to customers in ways that create tangible loyalty (repeat sales) and new customers. Making Twitter sell for you means helping customers solve problems.
But experts are advising,“Tweet links from other websites more often but don’t tweet about yourself as much.” In other words, don’t talk about yourself so much. They also advise, “only tweet once or twice per day” or “tweet only during mid-days in the middle of the week.” Statistically that’s when most re-tweets happen.
Solve customers problems
But the plain truth is none of these secret formulas work. They fail because your business doesn’t need to be among “the most followed.” It needs to be making productive use of Twitter by helping customers solve problems.
They don’t work because the substance of what your business says has always mattered. Twitter doesn’t change that.
They fail because customers do not make decisions about doing business with businesses based on how many selfish tweets they publish. And they fail because messages don’t get the job done anymore – experiences do.
Yes, the rate you tweet at and the source or substance of what you tweet sounds like fertile ground for best practices and secret sauce recipes. But these ideas are irrelevant to making Twitter produce leads, sales or any other kind of success. What’s important is realizing best practices and secret formulas on the timing of your Twitter broadcasts are the wrong place to start. Solving customers’ problems is.
Learn from mistakes
Following secret formula tips that “experts” say work for everyone don’t work because there is no such thing as a best practice for your business. Said plainly, what works for others probably won’t work for you. Think about the idea in context of your personal life. If you’ve ever read a self help book you know the truth: What works for others doesn’t always work in your situation!
What will work for you is failing – discovering ideas that do not work and applying what you learn. If you’ve been failing lately you’re in luck!
“Our brains, contrary to what most people think, have been designed to learn much more from lessons learned… from what didn’t work; from conflicts; from situations that were everything but successful; from what would force us to re-think what we’ve just done and do it better, trying harder next time around,” says Luis Suarez, an IBM knowledge management consultant and blogger at www.elsua.net.
So fail yourself or start learning about failures of others. Either way you’ll be succeeding more often by applying what you learn in your specific environment.
What to do instead
Ultimately if you want to follow these dangerous Twitter tips from “experts” go ahead. Most businesses and marketing professionals are. But most businesses are also failing to get more leads, more sales and more customer loyalty from social media marketing. And I think you deserve better than “guru wisdom” that serves the interest of others before it serves you.
Beyond learning from failure here are a few other action steps you can take immediately.
- Put ZERO value in number of followers.
- Demand that everything you do not be for the sake of “engagement” — that it be for something that is part of a larger plan to help customers do something valuable to them and to your business.
- Resist fearing the imperfect nature of learning. Instead, gain confidence by borrowing practices that work, apply them… learn what “doesn’t work” and make quick adjustments. And please do not underestimate your customers intelligence.
- Avoid taking tips from “experts” who tell you to do things that you know, deep down, don’t make good business sense.
- Follow the lead of companies like Avaya who listen for “expressions of purchase intent” using Twitter and combine with traditional sales force automation to capture six-figure contracts.
The real opportunity social media presents is to evolve — become more relevant and meaningful to customers in ways that create sales. Making social media sell for you means helping customers solve problems or understand their problems more clearly. Don’t be fooled by the “newness” of social media. Because although the tools are changing “what works” is not.
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