Foolproof Formulas to Turn a Cluttered Twitter Stream Into Real Business

Meghan Keaney Anderson
Meghan Keaney Anderson



twitter-opportunitiesIn one second on the internet, there are more than 6,000 tweets.

Take a breath.

There are now 12,000 tweets. Blink again. 18,000 tweets. Amid all of these tweets are a flurry of opportunities missed by the average marketer.

But then ... who said anything about being average? Odds are you recognize the potential that each of these social interactions have to advance your business and solve customer problems. The challenge is finding them and converting them into real business relationships. How you handle a given tweet will depend a lot on the person on the other end of it -- who they are and where they are in their decision process. Here are a few tried and true examples to help you make the most of your interactions on Twitter.

Turn a Follower Into a Lead

One of our customers, Yale Appliance and Lighting (@MyYale), is a good example of a company that just "gets it." They use social media in a way that's helpful, not disruptive -- but they also understand how being useful can guide someone to the next stage in their decision process.

In the example below, Yale Appliances is helping a Twitter user decide between GE and Electrolux ranges. They found this prospective customer by setting up a Twitter search for broken ovens. They were then alerted to a tweet from someone in need for some oven advice. Yale replied by directing the ovenless tweeter to an article on the subject which weighed the differences between the two brands. She downloaded it and instantly moved from a casual social media follower to a lead. Because they were using HubSpot's Social Inbox, that lead information was infused directly into their view of the conversation -- which you can see below under "Lifecycle Stage."


Recipe for This Conversion Opportunity:

  • Set up a Twitter search for a relevant keyword. Setting up a keyword search is straightforward, but it takes some thought and nuance to choose the right keywords. Think of the phrases people use when they're looking for advice: "Comparison," "versus," "help," "advice," "recommendations," and so forth. As you find relevant tweets, use those to narrow down your search terms.
  • Set up an alert to email or notify you when someone uses your combination of keywords. You'll probably need a social media app like HubSpot or Hootsuite to do this. Setting up alerts will help you monitor twitter without having to be tied to your Twitter streams. You can choose to get an email or push notification whenever someone new meets your search criteria. 
  • Direct the help-seeker to a piece of useful content behind a conversion form. Don't try to sell them. Just get them to that next iterative step along their research phase. Direct them to a blog article or, ideally, a piece of educational content behind a lead conversion form. This is what translates a stranger into a website visitor or lead.     

Turn a Lead Into a Customer

Once someone begins to consider a purchase, they enter into a new stage on social media, as well. According to Nielsen, approximately 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision. At this stage, questions shift from general inquiries about an industry or topic to more specific requests about companies. In the example below, HubSpot used Social Inbox to catch a tweet asking for a comparison between us and another marketing software provider. Because the person seeking advice was already a lead, Rosalia, a HubSpot marketer, notified the sales team member who had already been in talks with this prospective customer and then replied with some information that could be useful in seeing why people choose HubSpot.

By taking the time to notify the sales representative, Rosalia gave him the context he needed to make his next call with the lead more relevant. 


Recipe for This Conversion Opportunity:

  • Set up a search for your company name and the names of similar companies. This is not really about competitors as much at it is about catching leads in the moment that they're weighing a purchase decision. At this stage they're thinking more directly about products than they are, say, at the top of the funnel.  
  • Bring the sales rep into the conversation. Take a look at your CRM or contact database to see if the person on the other end of that tweet is currently talking with one of your sales representatives. If so, forward the tweet to him so he can either reply himself and further strengthen the relationship, or have that extra context for his next interaction with the lead.
  • Reply with more than "Pick us! Pick us!" The lead is asking a legitimate question. They're looking for insights, not a hard sell. Reply with information that will help them navigate that decision. In the above example, we went with case studies from customers who had switched to HubSpot.   

Turn a Customer Into an Evangelist

Happy customers are like new born babies. They're like rays of sunshine. They're like getting to work to find that all your meetings have been canceled and there's a fresh pot of coffee on. You get the gist -- they're pretty great.

A good company will find these happy customers on Twitter and thank them. A great company will find a way to turn the moment of happiness into a lifetime of advocacy.

Sound ambitious? It's not as hard to scale as you think. 

First, let's look at a company doing this well -- brought straight to you from my own personal Twitter account. Wistia is a video hosting company that HubSpot uses. They first captured our attention because they create a lot of remarkable (and humorous) content around video marketing. While content was the start of the relationship, it's product innovation and personal attention that has kept us as customers.

Over the years, I've become a true fan, but look for a moment about how Wistia took this impromptu tweet of happiness and turned it into an opportunity. I shared a positive experience with their product and they responded with both gratitude and a way to push the conversation forward. By inquiring about the problems we were solving, Wistia's Chris Savage opened up the door for a customer case study, testimonial, or more feedback that could contribute to future product development. A top-notch social response.


Now, according to research from Oracle, 80% of Twitter users expect a response to a customer support inquiry in 24 hours or less. So responding to customers should obviously be a priority -- but where companies really excel is knowing their customers well enough to celebrate them even when they don't expect it. Wistia did a nice job of this in the example below. They noticed that one of their customers had gotten some positive media attention for a launch of their own. Seeing the article and valuing the customer, they immediately took to Twitter to congratulate them on their success.  


Doing this can create a memorable moment for the customer and turn them into a long-time fan and advocate. In 2012, Wildfire conducted a study on brand advocates. They found that over the course of a year, brands with high advocate populations get 264% more earned media impressions than average brands. And brand advocates bring in an average of 1.3 new people each to the company.  

Recipe for This Conversion Opportunity:

  • Set up a simple search for people mentioning your brand. If you're using HubSpot you can create a stream that separates out your customers from the rest of your company so you can focus on them. Otherwise, look for anyone who is positively mentioning your brand. 
  • Go beyond a thank you. For each interaction, follow up your thank you up with something to push the relationship further. Ask a question or send them a creative message. This extra step will go a long way to turning your brief supporters into long-time advocates.
  • Create an internal feedback loop to surface customer stories. It may be hard for your social media or marketing staff to keep track of everything your customers are up to, but if you have a customer service team or account managers, they can help to surface good stories. Set up an internal email list-serve or a wiki page to share positive customer stories, then have your social media staff monitor it for posting ideas. 

Twitter may seem like a fire-hose of content, but small changes to the way you approach it can lead to a more productive time investment. In looking at our own customer base, we found that companies with more than 1,000 Twitter followers generate more than 800 new website visitors a month. Not only that, 36% of all marketers have acquired a customer via Twitter, with B2B companies leading the pack (Source: HubSpot). For each interaction you have, consider which of the above categories it could fit into. Think about the person at the other end of the tweet and what they need most at that moment.

Have you ever acquired a lead or customer through Twitter? I'd love to hear your own stories in the comments below.   

Image credit: garrettheath

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