Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Use Twitter Hashtags as a Prospecting Tool

Why Use Hashtags as a Prospecting Tool?

Twitter is noisy.
As a social media marketer, you know how important it is to have conversations with the right audience. But finding the right people and starting those meaningful conversations on Twitter is, shall we say, challenging when there are around 9,100 tweets sent every second.
So how can you find what you’re looking for without monitoring Twitter 24/7? Make the most of hashtags. They help you filter Twitter conversations so you can find discussions you can add to.
#vacationplanning tweets
Destination organizations and travel agents can find people looking for their help by filtering the #VacationPlanning hashtag.
Hashtags are an expression of how a person is thinking or feeling, which makes starting a conversation much easier (not to mention more productive). Successful brands use them not only to monitor customer feedback, but also to find quality leads.
Below you’ll discover three ways you can make the most of this important listening tool.

#1: Find Relevant Hashtags

There are as many hashtags as there are tweets, but the difference is that you can use hashtags to filter out the tweets that don’t apply to you.
How do you know which hashtags to use and follow? Do your research.
Spend time talking to your personnel who know your customers best: customer service reps, sales reps and account managers. Make a list of the most commonly asked questions or challenges voiced by your customers.
If you notice that your current customers and prospects have the same set of questions or challenges, it’s likely those issues are common throughout your niche. It’s a safe bet there are more than a few Twitter conversations around those issues.
With your list of pain points in hand, you’re ready to find hashtags related to them. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of hashtags already in place that you can watch.
To discover relevant hashtags, search for keywords related to the conversations, questions and issues you want to find. The easiest way to do this is by using the search function at the top of your Twitter homepage.
twitters search box
Use Twitter’s search box to find hashtag conversations.
As an example, let’s say you’re a content marketing agency whose prospects’ primary challenge is figuring out what to blog about. You could search for hashtags like #bloggingproblems, #writersblock or #whattoblogabout.
#bloggingproblems hashtag search in twitter
Use the search function to find relevant conversations you can add to.
The related conversations you find will give you direct access to people you can engage with.

#2: Monitor Specific Hashtags

Now that you have your list of hashtags that relate to the problems your prospects have, spend time every day paying attention to those conversations and thinking about what you can add to the discussion.
Even with filtering, not all conversations are going to be valuable, of course. The key is identifying the ones that closely align with the pain points you’re trying to solve for your customers and prospects.
#bloggingproblems tweets
When you find conversations related to your product or service, jump in and help out.
There is simply no better time to find prospects than when they are already expressing challenges that align with the services of your brand. Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk refers to this as riding the hashtag.
#lostluggage tweet
American Airlines reaches out to a frustrated customer who tweets with #lostluggage.
Paying attention to what is being said on Twitter and reacting accordingly is a much more effective method of prospecting than simply broadcasting your content or message and expecting a return.

#3: Add Value to the Conversation

The true value of Twitter, and social media in general, lies in the ability to really listen and respond, rather than trying to dictate the conversation.
Once you’ve found the relevant conversations happening on Twitter, it’s important tofocus on providing information and help instead of pushing your marketing message.
However, since a prospect may not have asked for your input, these initial engagements need to be handled delicately.
#vacationplanning tweet
This #VacationPlanning tweet offers great opportunity for helpful engagement.
You may do more harm than good if you respond to requests for help by being overly aggressive in your attempts to connect and/or talking about your product or service as a solution (this includes sharing gated material they would need to download).
Instead, your first (and second and third…) interaction should be sincerely helpful. Add value to the conversation by lending your expertise. This could mean simply passing along a helpful blog post, introducing them to an interactive tool or chatting about the information the prospect needs.
This type of first contact has proven to be a valuable, profitable tactic for some of the world’s top brands because it reinforces your expertise and builds trust.


If you’re having trouble finding qualified prospects online, try using Twitter as a listening tool. Hashtags are invaluable for helping you find the conversations that are relevant to you and your products or services.
Take the time to find out what your audience and prospects want, need and expect. When you know their pain points, you can address them in a way that reinforces your expertise in the field and builds trust (just avoid the hard sell).
When you put the time in to fine-tune your Twitter tactics, you’ll not only improve the quality of your engagements, you’ll also gain a more positive ROI from your social media efforts.

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