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! 🙂
When 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.