Network Marketing Strategies

Social Internet & Face to Face Business Development

Making Connections: Twitter

frontpage-birdSo I’ve Twumbled into Twitter! And I’ve been quite the Twidiot! But I’m getting Twetter!

(Dr. Seuss is ROLLING in his grave right now!)

Here’s where you get the chance to watch me squirm and look stupid with something new that I don’t know anything about!…

If you know me then you know that when I get engaged there’s no holding me back! I’m in it with both feet, hands, head, body and soul! I have exactly six days of experience with Twitter after getting turned on to it at a presentation by Les Ross and Shari Weiss –get to Shari’s blog article about Twitter here.

So Mr. Know-It-All in direct marketing (me) isn’t making any recommendations here, I’m just sharing my experiences and general take on the matter. I’ll also share with you the setup that I’m settling into after days of making horribly ridiculous mistakes (and in public. YUCK!) Well it’s just for real, ya know, I’m human and being a regular idiot can be a marketing tool in itself (you’re reading my blog aren’t you?!) It’s possible to be too polished to reach real people sometimes.

I started with a Twitter account. I’ve had one for awhile because my brother and niece were blabbing back and forth on it so I joined in. It was just an internet curiosity that didn’t spark my imagination. After seeing a presentation with Shari Weiss and Les Ross my curiosity was sparked pretty significantly.

Twitter is the killer-chat-app du jour. Shari was using Tweetdeck as an interface in her presentation and she recommends it on her blog post. I downloaded it. It’s free and it runs on Adobe Air –whatever that is, it worx on my Windows XP and that’s all I need to know. I think Tweetdeck is a great overall access interface for Twitter. You can stumble through it quite a bit without hurting anything and when you’re ready for help there’s a decent FAQ site to walk you through it.

I started out “following” Shari and Les and they followed me back. I got over to “Twellow” –an online Twitter directory- and I looked up “Tweeple” (…yah, I know, bear with me here.) My specific interest is purely business and my primary business interest is local women who buy makeup and skin care. So I was able to look up people right here in San Rafael and focus in on just that market. So I “followed” every woman in San Rafael –that sounds so creepy. When you “follow” somebody they might or might not follow you back but there’s a general etiquette that if you follow them they should return the gesture. So if I “follow” I can see what these women are saying in their posts and if these women return the gesture of following then they will be seeing my posts.

So there we are tweeting and following to our hearts’ desires. Well I’ve got better things to do than to sit around and watch the Twitter tv for hours and a direct marketer needs to be out in the field so any online marketing vehicle like this needs to, a. not require hours of maintenance, and, b. lead to local personal face-to-face contacts. So to address the first issue I looked around online for an automatic tweeter. Lo and behold there’s Autotweeter, a free beta program batched by a really cool developer who put it together on his coffee breaks, literally.

So automation is addressed, now the face-to-face.

Well I just started tweeting away; “I’m listening to ‘this music’ or ‘that’ song!” “How great are those MK mascaras!” “You need a free facial?!” “How’s about a free lip gloss!” –it was cr@p. And messy cr@p at that, I had no theme, no branding, no focus and no engagement. I did, however, get some response! I got two phone calls on Tuesday morning this week from potential clients who saw me posting up on twitter and wanted products! Score! These were women that I had never met before and would not have met had I not been active (and myself) on Twitter. So there was some validation for me there. However I took off in completely the wrong direction from there and ventured outward very unskillfully.

Having been energized by my two new clients I quickly set up a complete marketing campaign (in one afternoon.) My Autotweeter was loaded and ready to blast the universe with everything Mary Kay right up to my 1000 post limit! I sat back and watched as the posts started to roll out… …and then I froze dead in my tracks and turned white as snow. These tweets looked like beer commercials. For Chris’ sake! I unplugged everything.

I took a step back and rethought some things and got some sleep on it.

Now in Mary Kay we’re very specific about image –I’m not saying that we always get it right, just that the ideal is very clear: We’re professionals; sharp, formally dressed, groomed and coiffed. It’s about polish. Yet I reached the clients that I reached in this format because I had let my hair down and just gabbed without any formality or sophistication whatsoever. Once I turned on my sophisticated “auto-tweeting marketing machine” it became painfully obvious how out of alignment that was with this forum.

Understand that this Twitter stuff is GOLD! And it’s the beginning of the future for communications and marketing. I don’t claim to know what the specific future connectivity will look like but what I do know is that it will involve instant and direct and transparent public forums like this one. Now “instant” and “direct” are not new concepts but “transparent public forums” needs to be digested a little bit. A commercial is not a desirable thing to have to endure. Dressing it up as a 60 second sitcom is better but still not as desirable as skipping it altogether with a DVR. We don’t have to endure commercials anymore. We don’t have to endure spam emails anymore; I don’t even have to look at the content of that “increase your manhood” email to know that it’s just spam and zap it. Our sophistication as information consumers has created transparency in electronic environments: We know that unsolicited email offers probably aren’t valuable even though we don’t know the specific content of the offers; we see through it, it’s transparent. In a forum such as Twitter the same will be assumed with unsolicited offers from any commercial interest. Your personal value (right to the heart of your integrity) and your product’s value drops to zero when you offer something that wasn’t asked for here; people will see through you and will come to believe that your only interest in their attention is for their money.

BUT WAIT!

What if there is something of value in what I have to offer to these people? Well, I actually know that there is because I have great products and these women are clearly wearing makeup! What’s the missing link here?

It’s me.

Twitter is very superficial but only on the surface. Beneath that it’s about personal and intimate human engagement and companionship; Twitter (being comprised of the real, live, intimate and delicate people in it) is not a machine and yet it is an extraordinarily powerful marketing vehicle. The only true and reliable driver of that vehicle is our actual real selves –no more sales pitches or gimmicks (remember those are transparent.) Now and moving forward marketers will actually have to meet the real needs of real people and only when those people actually have those needs. And guess what? We’ll know instantly and directly when that is the case because –if we’ve developed our relationships correctly with the people in these venues- they’ll tweet us about it, instantly and directly. There’s a real gem to be had here. It has to do with a future where marketers don’t have to be out to “take” people for their money. Where I can actually help just the right people at just the right time without having to play the numbers game; wasting my time surveying (or bothering) thousands of women for the several hundred clients that I need to make a living wage. That is a big deal.

Back to my objectives here; I need little time consumption and I need the end result to be face-to-face contact.

I’ve set my Tweetdeck up on an old computer that runs it well enough and that monitor faces me while I work on my main pc checking emails, writing this blog etc. Tweets come through and show up passively while I work and I just keep my eye out for important tweeple like Shari or others that are influential to me. I glance up periodically to see what the San Rafael women are talking about and I can easily monitor what’s happening in that environment. I use a free online service called Twitterfeed to automatically upload current article headlines once every 24 hours from a few cosmetic blogs that I’ve vetted myself. Those articles are “hosted” on Twitter under my username and they represent me and my profession. It’s important that these are blogs that have useful and truthful information and I have been subscribed to these blogs for quite some time so I’m very comfortable with the image development that my connection with them provides in this forum. As developments take place on Tweetdeck I’ll take a few moments periodically to respond to a tweet and interact with the tweeter(s). I also post business-related events that come to my attention –San Rafael Chamber events, networking events, etc.

If I happen to engage somebody with more than a few tweets between us then I’ll react by taking time out of what I’m doing to be in contact and be a friend and be available for that companionship. Otherwise it doesn’t take much time at all to just let Tweetdeck run in the background, I don’t have to be glued to it. I’ll use my Autotweeter to broadcast helpful makeup tips randomly throughout the day with links included that direct tweeple to my Mary Kay website but no more than four or five automated tweets per day. Again, those tweets are clearly and transparently automated commercial postings and would degrade my image if tweeple got annoyed with too many of them. So with the relationship cultivation techniques in play (just being a good online friend), alongside a some very gentle commercial musings,  and by being my actual friendly in-service self I have no doubt that I will end up with the face-to-face contact that I am looking for.

What I’m hoping for now is that all of the other business owners that I see in this venue can figure this same stuff out and follow suit. They’re turning me off with their promotional material exactly the way I turned myself off with my own.

So, this sector of my online presence is at least set up with zero dollars spent and minimal maintenance for now. YAY!

ON TO FACEBOOK!

Love Tony.

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