When I was first exposed to Twitter, I was not just negative, I was militant. The idea that a 140-character message was an effective form of communication was ridiculous. The time-suck of all-day blathering about my life, my wife, my meals, my dog, and on and on was offensive to my mid-west work ethic. Worse, I found the constant reading of everyone else’s details and their pandering for micro-fame in the digital ether numbing and nauseating.

My marketing partner is a nag. A twenty nine year-old, social-media-addicted, drank-the-Kool-Aid® of social networking, NAG. She pushed, cajoled, threatened, and bribed me into getting engaged in Twitter (and LinkedIn and Facebook, but those are stories for another day). So, I jumped in and 90 days later, here is my report from the front lines of the question: “Can you really make money on Twitter, even if you are not a PR/Marketing/Advertising/Social Media-consulting company?” The answer is YES.

I have landed three consulting/presenting deals in the last 90 days in part or in whole because of Twitter. These deals have to do with my core business of helping companies grow through large account selling and have nothing to do with being a social media expert, which is good, because I am not a social media expert. As a novice who has now sold 6 figures of consulting in 90 days, let me tell you some things I have learned along the way…

1. Be valuable. The Twitter consultants, I call them the Twitter-azzi, tell you to put your life up on Twitter as a way to generate a personal dialogue with people and to not always be marketing your products or services. Welllllll… Let’s say I think that the right mix for me is 75% providing access to valuable expertise and 25% personal. Value is the result of helping people find information that is important to them—whether your information or that of other people in your area of expertise.

2. Be specific. Choose the area in which you are an expert. You need to pick your topic and focus on the information that you’re going to help people find. If you’re talking about everything all of the time, you will be an interesting personality, but not clearly valuable in any one area. Well, except entertainment.

3. Be choosy. The Twitter-azzi sends out all sorts of ideas on how to be followed by more people, as if that’s beneficial in and of itself. There is a flaw in the assumption that if people follow me, they are listening to me. THEY’RE NOT! These high-volume followers are just trying to increase the number of followers that they have. Don’t follow everyone who follows you and don’t follow people who you are not going to listen to. Be selective. The people whose posts I read are not even those people who I am following, they’re the people who are a part of a group I have created on TweetDeck, or they are including terms that I find in my Searches.

4.Search. This leads me to the key to managing hundreds of followers and millions of people on Twitter: create searches that allow you to catch those people and topics that are important to you. For me, “Vistage” is a search because I am a Vistage speaker and I know that they have a lot of CEOs who are tweeting about that topic. When I spoke at the GrowCo conference in Orlando, sponsored by Inc. Magazine, I put the conference’s name in as a search and met a dozen people who were tweeting during my presentation. Use the searches to hone in on your most important areas of interest and to follow/be followed by people of like interest.

5. Be efficient. I use TweetLater to manage my posts. I can write a dozen posts and release them on a schedule throughout the day so that those people who are following me are not inundated with five tweets all at once. I follow a Vistage speaker who I like, but he releases 5-10 posts at a time and I skim over them rather than read them. I think he thinks that he can tweet paragraphs like an email if he just breaks the paragraphs into tweets. The platform isn’t designed for that. And, as mentioned before, I use TweetDeck to manage my searches and groups—it makes it easier to see them all and work through them.

6. Be responsive. This is not just a broadcast channel; you need to respond to other tweets and engage with other people. If someone follows you, thank them and engage with them if it makes sense.

7. Be active. Retweet good content. Visit profiles to understand people on Twitter and possibly engage with them. Put your Twitter tag on your business card and website. This is becoming an important method of communication like your cell number and email address.

So, these practices turned into money because…

People I met started to engage me, my content and expertise through Twitter. Tweets led them to my profile, my profile led them to my website and blog, that expertise led them to contact me. It sounds simple, and in the end it really was. The difference in each case was that the point of entrance was not my newsletter or my website; Twitter was the jumping-off point.   You can follow me @tomsearcy.

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