Social media is changing the way we do business. The days of searching out a company or vendor, calling or visiting them and asking lots of questions before buying may soon be a part of the past. Twitter provides customers with a new way to do business. Ask and you shall receive. Let me explain with a personal story: Recently I was faced with buying custom printed t-shirts for a group. This was going to require some research looking online for vendors, making phone calls, shopping around for prices and then ordering…a daunting process. So I did what any social media savvy person would do. I turned to my Twitter community and asked for advice. Several people sent me names of local companies, but that meant I still had to do a lot of legwork. And then the shining light appeared. I received a response from @PMGpromotions asking me how they could help me. I told them in a tweet what I needed. They DM’d me links, prices and everything I needed to make a decision. While that interaction was happening two other companies tweeted me offering to help. One company was @_LogoVision and I don’t remember the other company’s name. They also DM’d me information. I ended up choosing @PMGpromotions because they were local and also because they were the first to offer to help me. I have since placed two more orders with them for different promotional products. Listening to what people are saying about your industry and offering to help people in a professional and polite way is a great way to build your clientele. Here are some tips to make this work for your business: 1. Use Tweetdeck to search and set up tweet streams with keywords that relate to your industry. 2. Pay attention to the streams you have set up. No you don’t have to sit there all day, just scan the streams a few times per day looking for people asking for help. 3. Respond quickly. The person who won my business was the first to respond. They got to me first and had a few minutes to build rapport before their competitors chimed in. 4. Take it offline. DM the person and eventually get them to email. You can only do so much on twitter. Ask the customer how they prefer to be communicated with and communicate with their preferred method. 5. Make the process seamless, easy and require little effort from the customer. PMG had to stay engaged with me to get the final order. I was not overly excited about ordering these shirts, but they knew I needed them and they kept in close contact until the order was finished. 6. Follow up. Stay connected. You are not looking for a one-time sale; it is the long-term relationship, referrals and repeat business that is going to grow your business. This happens by keeping this new customer engaged. I remember @_LogoVision because their person continues to have conversations with me on Twitter she knows there is always a chance I will choose them next time. That’s why I remember her name and not the 3rd company. This method of engaging, connecting and growing your business is sure to continue to grow as more and more people realize that their Twitter community is a valuable resource with answers and advice. Crowdsourcing is becoming a popular part of Twitter. There are many people asking for advice about anything from where to eat for lunch to where to shop for their next car, house, apartment, gift… Are you listening?
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