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by Bob Woods
on August 16, 2016

Power Your Social Selling With Twitter Lists

With all of the brouhaha surrounding the recent news of Microsoft‘s impending purchase of LinkedIn, and all of the speculation surrounding the buyout and its impact on the world of Social Selling, let’s concentrate a bit more on one of the other heavyweight tools used in the Social Selling process: Twitter.

Within Twitter is a feature called lists. With lists, you can curate groups of Twitter accounts into smaller categories. Normally, you can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts in that list.

Most people use Twitter lists to separate groups of people into categories. As a Social Seller, though, you can use them to group leads, prospects and networking connections in a meaningful way.

Setting up Twitter lists is easy to do, and can be done via a Web browser as well as one of the main mobile platforms (iOS and Android). Here’s how you do it, via Twitter’s support site. Keep in mind that you’ll probably want to keep many of your lists private. I’ll explain why in a minute.

Leads

These are people who work at companies to which you want to sell, or people to whom you want to sell. You can divide these lists however you want; having them in such lists, though, will help you to follow what they’re saying and how they feel about certain subjects. When they tweet something that matches your field, you can retweet it with a comment or reply to them. You can even mention them in content-oriented tweets you send to your followers; something like:

5 Ways to Keep Track of #Sales Leads… do you agree, @leadname? #business #socialselling

Your leads list should consist of active Twitterers, though. It doesn’t help you to tweet to someone who never looks at her or his account.

Prospects

Twitter lists really become powerful in the prospect-to-close phase of the sales process. Once you have a prospect company in your sales funnel and you’re working it through to the close, create a list of people in that company. It especially helps if those people have direct influence over any proposal you have at that company, or over any decision they’re making about a product or service of yours.

Once you’ve created your prospect lists, follow what the people are saying. Comment on and add value to their conversations; not too much, though, because of the “stalker” factor. Retweet their tweets while adding value to them. By commenting, sharing and adding value to their content, you’re both showing your continued expertise in your field, and you’re keeping your name (and your company) at the top of their minds as your proposal works its way through to (hopefully) the close.

Besides using them for direct contacting and retweeting, creating lists of your leads and prospects is a good way just to keep track of who you’re prospecting, who works for which company, and so on.

Networking Connections

Perhaps the easiest type of list to set up are ones for your networking connections. These are people who you already know or are “movers and shakers” in the communities in which you are involved. They’re the ones who are more apt to retweet your messages and even interact with you. Engage with them, and they’ll help spread the word about you and your offerings to their audiences, which in turn builds your brand and credibility to a new group of people.

What’s more, your networking connections will like the fact that you think enough of their opinions and content that you’ve put them in a list—assuming you make your networking connections lists public. A little bit of recognition—especially when it’s genuine—goes a long way.

Public vs. Private

It’s important to note that you’ll want to keep your leads and prospects lists set to “private.” After all, you don’t want your competition to know the identities of your leads and prospects. In addition, anyone who is in your private lists won’t actually know they’re in your lists—a good thing, especially because you don’t want to appear “stalker-y.”

Besides leads and prospects, you can also use private lists to monitor competitors and get to know the players in an industry, geography or niche market before you’re ready to interact with them.

Whether or not you want to keep your networking connections lists set to private is up to you. I would keep my connections lists public because I want those people to know I’m following them and care enough to curate their content into a separate list. I don’t even mind if other people follow my public lists because it spreads the word about what my connections are posting to Twitter. As a connector of people, I want to see my connections do well and get to know others through my actions.

As you can see, LinkedIn isn’t the only game in town when it comes to Social Selling. Learning how effectively to use both networks, as well as others, is the key to sales success.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.