6 ways Twitter can help your business go beyond PR

Experts in lead generation, marketing and customer service discuss some of the best business uses for Twitter – from finding new employees and customers to helping existing ones.

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Kevin Kerjci (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Many businesses still think of Twitter as only a public relations tool. But Twitter is more than just a way to publicize a new product or service. It’s a way for businesses to quickly connect and engage with customers, partners and employees and build a loyal following. So how can your brand leverage Twitter beyond PR? Following are six innovative ways to use the social media service that can benefit your bottom line.

1. Lead generation/customer acquisition. “Businesses can use Twitter to prospect for leads,” says Brandon Hoffman, director of Internet marketing, KEA Advertising.  “For instance, let's say that you're an auto mechanic. [You could] do a search for terms like ‘need mechanic’ [or] ‘recommend mechanic,’ [looking for posters] within 10 miles of your business address.” You can then “engage them and potentially find yourself a new customer.”

Another way to find prospective customers on Twitter is to search for intent-based tweets. “Three-hundred million Tweets are sent daily and two of the most commonly used phrases on Twitter are ‘I want’ and ‘I need,’” says Bernard Perrine, cofounder and CEO, SocialCentiv, a Twitter marketing tool. “Monitoring Twitter for keywords and geolocation, brands who represent services or products that answer the ‘I want’ or ‘I need’ tweets have a golden opportunity to reply with a personalized offer and [attract a new customer].” 

You can also “monitor Twitter to find unhappy customers of your competitors,” says Brittany Berger, head of Content, Mention, a media monitoring service. “If there’s an opportunity where you can help or solve their problem, a quick reply can turn them into a hot lead. Just make sure to reach out with the intention of helping, instead of letting it turn into a hard sell.”

Similarly, “look for general conversations happening about your business’s industry,” she says. “If you find people asking questions you know the answer to, help them out regardless of whether or not it’s related to your product or business. This will help you build warm connections that can be converted to leads.”

Another way to attract new customers, “reward your Twitter followers with special promotions and flash sales,” says Roxanne Martinez, president, Roxstar Marketing. “Tweet a deal that your customers cannot find anywhere else. If it’s compelling enough, you’re likely to get retweets or engagement that could attract new customers.”

2. Recruiting. You can also “use Twitter to hire talent,” says Ninh Tran, cofounder and CMO, HireTeamMate. “Fifty-four percent of companies are using Twitter to hire, and 74 percent of hires come from social networks.” Moreover, “34 percent of job seekers are ‘social’ job seekers – [and] 29 percent of social job seekers ask for advice on Twitter.”

“When recruiting, use Twitter to scan for qualified applicants in your field,” says Michelle LeBlanc, social media strategist, Industrium, an advertising, marketing, PR and public affairs agency. “Using industry-specific search terms, plus a geolocation filter, in an application like Hootsuite, will help you to quickly narrow your search to nearby candidates [who] are passionate about your products or services.”

[ Related: 3 Ways to Use Social Media to Recruit Better Tech Talent ]

“Twitter can be a great channel to recruit your most active fans to join your company as employees,” agrees Weiting Liu, founder and CEO, Codementor. “At Codementor, we constantly monitor Twitter for potential candidates. One of our key hires actually joined us because he tweeted enthusiastically about our service. We followed up aggressively – and a few months later he joined as our head of business development!”

To find job candidates on Twitter, use “hashtags like #jobs, #jobsearch and #[your city or region],” says Andrew Hall, copywriter, Nublue, a Web design, development and hosting company. And “be sure to include a photo of your workplace, [including] your people, as well as the salary range of your vacancies and a link to your careers page online – or, even better, an internal recruitment video [on] YouTube.”

3. Market research. “Wonder what consumers will think of your new widget or service? Introduce it on Twitter with a custom hashtag and ask for feedback,” says Erika Taylor Montgomery, founder and CEO, Three Girls Media, a public relations and social media management agency. “The platform is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to gain valuable insight from a desired core audience.”

Twitter is a great way “to conduct impromptu (and totally free!) market research,” says Tami Brehse, a digital marketing consultant. “Ask a question and let the crowd answer, or reach out directly to influencers to get their pulse on the topic of your choice.”

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