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How To Use Twitter For Marketing: The Bridge Building Strategy

Note: This post was part of the “Marketing That Works” Ideas Contest, showcasing 20 of the most innovative marketing ideas from the blogosphere’s up and coming marketers. We’ve since picked a winner – check out this post for the details! 🙂

bridge buildingWhen I first started using Twitter, I had no idea what I was doing.

I had no idea how to use Twitter for marketing. The concept of “followers” sounded like some far out of reach dream, and bots and spammers loved me. Needless to say it took me a while to figure out for myself what every social media guru already knows to be true: it’s all about the connections.

But what can you do with the connections you’ve already made? Anyone who’s anyone in online media and marketing will communicate the utmost importance of developing your online relationships once they’ve been established. And if you’ve even dipped your toes into the sometimes Fail Whale-infested waters of social media, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s no easy feat to build that special kind of trust with your friends, followers, and subscribers.

Although I soon found out that sometimes when those waters are at their roughest, it helps to build bridges…

What do I mean by bridges?

Without even realizing it, I had stumbled into a strategy of really deepening that trust with my online relationships – acting as a “bridge” that connects like-minded people. You see, the best twitter marketing strategies are actually just connection strategies. Leading a member of my online community to a valuable connection not only strengthens my own connection with them, it instills a sense of community throughout all my social media relationships.

Why does bridging your connections work? Because bridging…

  • …expands on the idea that connections come before sales. If I know you and love what you do, I will always buy what you have to offer.
  • …deepens the trust between you and your online relationships, which means they’re more likely to buy from you in the future.
  • …builds connections for those in your online community, creating lasting relationships across multiple networks. Success yields success.
  • …places emphasis on connecting, not necessarily the results or sales, so avid fans and potential customers will naturally flock to you. If your community members are able to feel safe with you while paving their own path to success, they will just know they can trust you.

So if you’re ready to deepen the trust you have with your online connections while simultaneously laying the groundwork for potential customers, I’ll let you in on how to build some bridges:

The Shameless Plunk

If you’ve got a handle on name-dropping, you’ll love this one. Whenever you want to highlight an awesome someone, plunk the name of an equally awesome someone of a similar niche into the convo. Recently I was talking with a Twitter friend about her newly self-published book, and I mentioned another self-published author I know whose book I had just bought.

The result? Because I’ve not only done this plug but also supported, promoted, and beta read for these authors in the past, I’ve planted seeds in a genuine way for any author promotions I may offer.

Become a Resource

Or a directory is more like it. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities where you can lead someone to another connection of yours for some sort of valuable information, or maybe even a job or service. The other day I noticed a writer’s tweet pop up in my Twitter stream, asking for animators. Like a flash I connected him with an aspiring cartoonist who knows animators like the back of her hand.

The result? Since said writer often promotes some of my best tweets, he’s likely to promote other content I create as well. This marketing strategy is all about helping people, it’s probably the quickest way to start growing your network.

Cross-Network

If you’re like me and play social media host to more than one network, community, or business, you can use that to your advantage. Always be on the lookout for someone with overlapping interests, someone you can guide from one of your communities into another. I once inadvertently introduced a follower on my alternate Twitter account to one of my favorite blogs that I promote regularly on my main account.

The result? Not only does that follower trust my content she’s familiar with, she trusts enough to try out something else I love in a completely different niche. As a bonus, the owner of said blog also now knows I am someone valuable in his community.

But Remember, Value Changes Across Platforms

With social media strategies, what matters isn’t that the platform changes but that the value changes. I sign on Twitter to talk to people, and I log on Facebook to see what people are doing. I’ve mentioned only Twitter in my above examples, but that’s just because bridging my connections happens more naturally for me on Twitter than on Facebook. If the value you’re passing between two connections is better expressed in more of a visual way, then maybe Facebook is for you.

The cool thing about bridging your connections is that it can be applied to any platform, as long as you’re focused on these two important mindsets:

No matter where you go or what you’re doing, start training your mind to see connections. This is more than just observing the connections you have, or the connections you’d like to have with your social media relationships. It’s seeing the connections between people. Become aware of which people and groups of people in your online networks are connected, and why they’re connected.

Know who’s important, who’s up-and-coming, and what they’re doing so that you’ll be prepared when opportunities arise for bridging connections in your network. Be constantly “in the know” about everything and everybody related to your niche. Twitter averages about 250 million Tweets per day! It only makes sense that an effective twitter strategy is focused on timeliness. Try to stay ahead of the “twitter news curve.”

But how do you go about applying all this to your everyday activity? Here are some action steps you can take right now to start harnessing the power of connecting people:

  1. Dive in and start introducing people via Twitter. You could do this by suggesting a friend’s blog to someone in your network who’s looking for more blogs to read. This works especially well with shout-outs you can retweet to your followers to get a wider response.
  2. Keep engaging those in your Facebook circle who share the same interests as those in your online community. Personally invite them to be a part of your group or fan page so that you can bring them together over a common bond.
  3. Nurture the connections you’ve built between people. If someone in your community often visits the website or blog of a mutual connection, send an e-mail and start up a discussion about past articles or new thoughts around related topics. Look for opportunities to reunite them and keep the other person fresh in their mind.

Once you really get going, you’ll be able to spot connections within your online relationships all the time. Bridging your connections will quickly become one of your go-to relationship marketing strategies if you:

  • Keep in mind that connecting is key and comes first, before sales
  • Deepen your trust with your relationships by giving them valuable connections
  • Remember the two mindsets, spotting connections and being “in the know”.

Above all, be an advocate. Elevate those in your community, show how they’re valuable to you, and others will inevitably see their value too. Just like that, you’ve padded their own list of connections while making sure that they’re a fan of yours first.

Have you already been “building bridges” without knowing it? Share your own insight and experiences bridging connections between your online relationships. We would love to hear any other thoughts you have on the topic of how to use Twitter for marketing.

About Tanya Marcy

Tanya Marcy loves to work with emerging and independent artists to market their projects and reach their ideal audience. She blogs at stickTnotes, where she shares her ideas about being a creative artist in today's changing world. She also regularly lends her blogging skills and love of TV to Spoilers Guide and Glee Soundtrack.

45 comments

  1. Find out what makes copywriting robotic and what you can do to avoid robotic copywriting. … Simply put, robotic copywriting is not conversational and not customer focused, while it’s unnecessarily formal and complicated. … Mortgage Consultant, HillSid

  2. The is a key concept that I have found in several course on social media, especially when it comes to twitter. The aggregator gets almost as much credit as the original writer. It also stated that when you provide great content, regardless the resource, you are building yourself as an expert in your field.

    1. I believe relationships are the most important element of marketing and Twitter is a great platform for building them. In the seo training I completed, there was a discussion on the importance of social media. I can’t imagine how much more important it will be in the next few years!

    2. That’s true, Matt. Most ideas are never completely original, it’s all in how you execute them – and how you build upon the original content. Thanks for the thoughts!

  3. Solid information! It’s been over stated and now sounds cliche, but it is about relationships. Its simple. Are you going to buy from someone you’ve interacted with and gotten to know or a total stranger? Developing the relationship takes time and should be a part of your social media marketing strategy

    1. Yep Dean, that’s it exactly. 🙂 I know! It does sound overstated after a while, doesn’t it? (I kind of felt that way writing the article, heh – how many times can I type “relationship” and “connection”, anyway?). What’s obvious is often what we’ll overlook or take for granted more than others – and developing relationships is definitely included on that list, I think.

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Tanya, you’ve definitely kicked off the contest with a high-value post! The value of a personal introduction is huge; I think it’s the way trust propagates. Unlike some other activities, it works both in the real world and on the Internet. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, a huge network of local business networking meetings, adopted “Givers Gain” as the BNI slogan, and I think it is a wonderful stance.

    Tracking people can be challenging. I’ve checked out WeMeUs.com, and it has lots of great features. For connecting 1 to 1, as opposed to via marketing campaigns, you might want to consider a CRM (customer relationship management) system; selecting one to match your needs is itself a project… 🙂 Midway between spreadsheets and CRM is Filemaker Bento, a $49 database system that comes with templates and other good stuff.

    Success in the contest!

    1. Thank you, Joel! I agree, it’s definitely an idea that can be applied offline too. In fact, even when you’re dealing with online relationships, it can be so rewarding to take them offline at some point. I tend to stay glued to my computer, so that took me a while to figure out (there’s that fear factor again).

      And thanks for those recommendations! I’ll have to check all those out. 🙂

  5. How silly is that I have not thought of this before. I know so many great people in my network it is only natural to introduce them in this way. I guess 140 chars is the new warm introduction. Kim Sherrell (@kim ) does this very well. I remember responding to her on Twitter once not expecting her to write back. She introduced me to another blogger interested in Bot AI and inspired me to write a post about it.

    1. How cool is that, Susan! See, it’s already everywhere and we didn’t even know it. Lol.

      That happens a lot with things like this, they seem so obvious when brought up but it’s not always a technique or strategy we keep in our primary focus. I feel the same way whenever I read another post or article on branding. It’s like, I should know this already…. But a lot of times we get different perspectives that are good, too.

      Thanks for your comment! Is that post you mentioned on your own site? I’d love to read it. 🙂

  6. Fantastic tips Tanya. It’s taken me a while to really grasp Twitter myself. I thought it was really weird too when it first hit the seen. I’m going to try some of these techniques, especially the bridging technique.

    1. Thank you, Robert! Good to know I’m not the only one. 🙂 What’s cool is you can even get creative with it and apply these techniques in other forms of social media as well.

  7. p.s How do you keep track of your connections? I’m not a big one for big contact databases but even with my small following of readers, clients and Facebook group members I struggle to keep track of everyone. And don’t even get me started on follow-ups (that’s why I automate everything but that’s counter to the personal interaction mantra we’re advocating here!)

    Any tips please?

    1. Hey Cassie, since no one’s spoken up, I’ll share what I do:

      I have excel spreadsheets keeping track of Where I Commented, When, and who the owner of the blo is.

      I also have spreadsheets that keep track of Thank You Cards I’ve sent out

      I also have spreadsheets that keep track of my guest posts, and their response rate.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Hi, Cassie! Thank you for your insightful comments.

      That’s a great thought you’re bringing up, about keeping track of connections. I’m not usually big on large databases either, unless you need to look back at specific data. Keeping track of everyone (and following up, too) is actually something I also struggle with, especially during small bursts of growth (like an increase in followers). It’s definitely a “work-in-progress” area with myself and my own connections.

      What I have been doing is narrowing down my relationships to smaller groupings, which makes it easier on my brain. Like my “artists” and “marketing contacts”, or my followers that love the shows I cover, for instance. For the business or entrepreneur that might not have such clear-cut categories, connections could be split into something simpler, like “new clients”, or “younger clients”. Or you could get creative, of course. For yourself with Women’s Way to Wealth, I could see connections ranging from the young career girl to the stay-at-home mom to the women who would like to leave the 9-5 to do their real passion (and this could be something in your mind already). 🙂

      I’m always improving myself, so if anyone else has any thoughts or suggestions for keeping track of connections, feel free to share! Perhaps this is another post in-the-making. 😉

      1. Hi Tanya, I was thinking the same thing (about writing a post on this). Mine would be rhetorical though and in the interests of research as I certainly don’t have the answers!

        One challenge I have with Women’s Way To Wealth is that people don’t self-identify so I don’t necessarily know if someone’s a stay at home, high flying career woman or top blogger with the majority of my contacts being facebook contacts, Twitterers or email sign-ups.

        So, a work in progress for all of us. Danny, any insights from your side?

  8. Excellent post Tanya, gosh the competition bar is high (gulp!). I love your bridging concept applied to social media. I do a lot of “live” networking and it’s been on my mind how to cross pollinate the relationship building and trust between offline and online. Usually what happens is that when I meet someone at a networking event I’ll follow-up by email and also friend them on Facebook, connect on linkedIn and connect on Twitter. Then, things tend to go a big cool a bit quickly as other things take priority.
    So, your bridging strategy is a great way to keep these relationships alive. Whether offline or online we should always be a) asking people what they’re looking for and can offer and b) looking for ways to connect them accordingly with those that can help or can be helped.
    Thanks for a great post!

  9. Epic, I agree with Ryan, you’ve set the bar high… GOOD. 😀

    I particularly love your focus on getting a mindset down. Amen to that.

    “No matter where you go or what you’re doing, start training your mind to see connections. This is more than just observing the connections you have… Know who’s important, who’s up-and-coming, and what they’re doing so that you’ll be prepared when opportunities arise…”

    Seeing connections that others miss, is a big part of success, and you can train your mind do this for you habitually.

    “Above all, be an advocate. Elevate those in your community, show how they’re valuable to you, and others will inevitably see their value too. Just like that, you’ve padded their own list of connections while making sure that they’re a fan of yours first.”

    Provide value, and be rewarded 😉 Give, and… get 😉 Raise others up, and ryze up yourself 😉

    Rock on Tanya.

    1. Thanks so much, Jason! It feels so good to know that I’ve produced something epic. 😉

      Love your blog, by the way. I’ll be adding it to my Google Reader.

  10. Hi Tanya,
    It certainly looks like you have spent a great deal of time to observe your connections and followers. It’s interesting how it’s the second post about connections that I stumble upon tonight when I just posted a guest post about the subject…. Certainly, people are not stupid and they will go for the true connections that are real to them and give them something back.

    Thanks for the great post here!

    1. Hi, Sylviane. 🙂

      Guess everyone’s catching on, heh-heh. What’s so interesting to me is, with the way the world is technologically shifting, people are finding they have less time compared to the amount of information and media out there – so now more than ever, we’ve become choosy about where we spend our time and resources. I think people are starting to realize that those who are real will go further.

  11. Hey Tanya, I’m kind of with Hypnodude on this one. I have had a Twitter account since the very early days of it starting, but sort of got caught up in all the spam and automated Tweet malarkey, fizzled out and become a little disappointed. It’s only until recently I have started to take a new interest in Twitter again. The people I follow are about to become a lot smaller indeed.

    Thanks for tips Tanya I will be using them 😀

    Dan

    1. You’re welcome, Dan!

      I know where you’re coming from, it’s kind of comical to look back on it now, but it took me probably about a year of figuring out Twitter before I started to make any progress. Although I do move at a slower pace than others. 🙂

      Twitter’s strange because in a way, it’s just a bunch of people talking all at once (ha). So it becomes important to fine-tune your “ears” and listen only to what you can really utilize, and share with those you connect with most. One piece of advice I once read in a blog article that’s really stuck with me is to routinely go through the people you follow. Make sure that who you’re following still adds value to what you’re doing.

      Good luck taking to Twitter again! It’s a confusing and fun virtual road all at once.

    1. That’s great to hear, Robert! I’m sure you’ll find that the more you incorporate social media, the easier it will come to you and the more you’ll want to include it in your marketing plans.

  12. Great post Tanya and I wonderful start to the marketing ideas competition.

    A stand out for me is your point about elevating your community. I’ve just finished Mike Stelzner’s book LAUNCH and that is one of his key ways to build momentum in your own business. When you help the people around you, everyone wins.

    Now that blog regularly I wear my “blogging goggles” all time, to pick up ideas and inspiration. I think I’ll shift the setting slightly to include connections as well. Thanks for sharing this!

    Belinda

    1. Hi Belinda, thanks for the LAUNCH book recommendation. It sounds really useful. It’s on my Books To Buy list now!

      Have you read “Book Yourself Solid, by Michael Port”? I’ve just bought it on the recommendation of my coach and am soon going to dive in and start reading it/working through the exercises on identifying personal brand and business purpose.

      I know what you mean about blogging goggles – great description. Echo your sentiment about widening the scope to include connections following Tanya’s excellent post.

    2. Hey, I have those “blogging goggles” too, Belinda! 😉 It really does take flipping a switch in your mind, and once you get there it’s almost hard to turn off. It’s like when I learned about ad design. Magazines and TV commercial breaks aren’t quite the same for me anymore. Lol. Except with connections, that can be a good thing.

      Thanks for your awesome comment – and for sharing LAUNCH with me, I’ll have to check out Mike Stelzner’s book myself. Sounds like it would be a great read for me.

  13. Interesting post, detailed and well written. Not that I’m into social media to be honest, both my Twitter and Facebook account are mostly tweets about my post and retweeting others own posts which I know is pretty bad from the social point of view. Only that I have to choose between writing and reading others’ blogs or entering the social media field. Knowing that I can be able to, or better I can try to, be good at just one of them I went for the writing and commenting.

    Anyway even if I’m a kind of caveman as regards social media your post about building bridges is pretty good. 🙂

    1. Hey, hypnodude! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You bring up a great point about the balancing act between being active with social media and writing/producing your content. It’s tough to do, and it’s definitely all about choices and understanding what best fits your own niche (and your nature). It’s still a juggling act for me, although I have gotten better at it.

      You can actually apply this concept on just a blogging platform, too. 🙂 Using comments to build/bridge your connections rather than tweets. I say you’re on the right track just by acknowledging what works for you. Even just promoting and retweeting on Twitter is a solid way of opening possibilities for connecting people.

  14. Excellent article! You’ve set the bar high on Day 1 for the rest of us finalists. When you can look at your Twitter Followers as more than just Followers there is much value to give and extract from that community.

    Congrats on a Great Article!

    Ryan H.

    1. Thank you Ryan, that’s great to hear! That’s really the trick with Twitter. I think that’s one reason why some individuals and businesses unfamiliar with it can’t quite grasp what it’s all about. Once I got out of the “ego” zone of having “followers” and started looking at them as members of my community, I was able to get so much more out of my Twitter experiences.

      I’m looking forward to reading your own article during the contest!

  15. Tanya,

    Thanks for the tips! The one I’ve really started using lately is the “become a resource”. I’ve connected several people with each other or helped people directly with a problem and that can definitely deepen your relationships and lead to value down the road.

    1. No problem, Tom! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      Yes, “become a resource”, is one of my favorites! It’s always come so naturally to me that I never really put much thought into it as a proactive step until recently. I find it especially rewarding now that I’ve made more connections because I get to share who and what I know on a broader scale, with people in need of that info.

  16. Hi Tanya,

    I focus on building strong connections. Connections are the foundation for your business, because the people you connect with help grow your business…along with you, of course 😉

    Connect. Trust. Buy. The process is simple. But you must keep true to the process each day.

    Super creative tips for connecting. Thanks for sharing with us.

    RB

    1. Hi, Ryan!

      It’s so true that you must stick with the process every day. I used to get so bogged down with all the details, that I would sometimes forget to keep this simple “connecting” mantra in mind. The more you do for people, the more they’re willing to do for you. You’re right, if you’re building strong connections, in time a lot of the legwork takes care of itself.

      Thanks for reading!

  17. Because I already knew that networking isn’t about what I get for me, it is more about what I can bring to the table, I was happy to see this information presented so well.

    My takeaway from this blog: practicing the art of people-connecting develops into a skill which, like typing or playing an instrument, becomes second nature. And we all know that takes practice.

    Good one.

    1. Thank you, Yvonne! Exactly, “people-connecting” (love that, says it so well) is one of those things that the more you practice, the more it becomes a part of everything you do. Sounds like you’re already off to a great start.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

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