We’ve looked at why you need a co-ordinated marketing strategy, we’ve got you using Twitter (if you weren’t already), and now we are going to look at the next step, which is getting on and doing it.

Step 2 – JFDI!

Once you understand the basics, you need to understand how you can harness Twitter for your success.

1) Find loyal followers – these are the people who will evangelise your messages, promote you, buy from you, talk to you, and support you. Without loyal followers, Twitter is simply a time sink that becomes useful for research but little else.

2) Think out of the box to customise Twitter to your own ends

3) Don’t get stuck with one strategy. Be flexible, agile and ready to change. Be reactive as well as proactive.

4) Work with other people to cross promote and retweet.

Let’s take each point in turn.

1) Find loyal followers.

When Twitter first became popular, there were many tweets along the lines of “How to find 1 Million new followers in a month” as many people perceived fame and fortune in numbers. However, we all know it is quality not quantity which matters.

There is also a limit to the number of people who you can follow EFFECTIVELY. If you wish to build relationships with those you need to, you must communicate with them where possible on a 1 to 1 basis, rather than 1 to many.

The purpose of Twitter, for many people who are likely to be those who buy from you, talk about you in a positive light etc, is to communicate. Therefore, it is simply not sufficient to follow everyone you possibly can. You need to a) be choosy b) notice people – an auto welcome tweet when they follow you may seem easy but it’s not good form – be personal and personable and c) nurture your followers by getting to know them.

2) Think Out of the Box

Everyone can click “Follow” (as was discovered by the poor chap who unknowingly tweeted Osama Bin Laden’s death). You need to make your followers glad they are following you, because you are different. And be aware of the pains of 15 mins of fame – you should aim for long term strategies, not just quick wins. (Although we will be posting about getting this balance right next week).

Large corporates need to get personal, small companies need to think bigger, bloggers need to share other blogs as much as promote their own, sales and marketing teams need to get under the skin of their customers to see what makes them tick.

Standard rules may or may not apply on Twitter and in online marketing, but the truth is that you need to stand out from the crowd.

Very standard out of the box thinking would include: Offer prizes to the person who RTs you most in a month, but only offer it on your website, so that serial RTers don’t just win by reading Twitter but by knowing your site. Run Treasure Hunts, photo competitions, Twitter focus groups. Offer extraordinary or out of the ordinary special offers. Create really useful lists for your followers based on their feedback. Add that little extra to their day that helps them to use Twitter more effectively. Find the product(s) they are looking for – even if not yours. Answer questions, offer advice, be helpful.

(For more advice, speak to an online agency who specialise in social media marketing and watch for our Guerrilla Twitter Tips – coming soon).

3) It’s not set in stone.

You may start on Twitter using it as a broadcast mechanism, e.g. promoting your fresh content to your followers, and you may find that this justifies the time spent setting it up. But is it enough? And is it working? (Are you checking your stats to make sure that enough people are coming from Twitter to your site? And are those people higher value than visitors from other sources? Who converts?)

With social media, you can trial multiple strategies in a fairly short time scale, without spending a fortune. If you have a team tweeting, try expanding (or reducing) the team to see if it makes a difference. If you see a trend developing that you can add in to with your product, a white paper, commentary, a blog post, etc, then give it a go. If you have an idea, run it by your followers first. If it works, roll it out!

4) Cross-promote, co-operate

It’s a tough world. Working together with others makes life, and business, a little easier. Find others who tweet similar information to you, agree to RT (retweet) their tweets and you will RT theirs. Create and share Twitter lists.

Think complementary not competitive. Find others who are tweeting about your region and ask them to tweet about you, follow you and RT you. Get on board with others in the same industry and help each other out getting each other’s information to your group of followers. Follow the media who represent your area, industry, community of interest and feed them stories from your world, not just about you.

Use the mention feature as often as possible to promote your most staunch allies. This is simply the addition of a . in front of the @twittername of that business or individual. It will then reach everyone who follows that person and not just your own followers. It is a rarely used, but very useful feature of Twitter for marketers.

So “I love .@clickthroughsem and the latest series of blog posts about Twitter http://bit.ly/kEEFp4 ” could be your next tweet.

Thank you!

Part 4 tomorrow will cover some of the uses of Twitter that far too many business uses seem unaware of.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology