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3 Ways to Use Twitter to More Deeply Engage Influential Prospects

Amidst all the talk of Google+ and the new, new Facebook, Twitter has a lost a bit of its glow.

_DaniloRamos via Flickr

But, it’s still a very powerful and useful tool for marketers and in some cases the communications vehicle of choice for your best prospects and customers.

Today I want to talk about a couple of ways you can use your Twitter routine to more deeply engage customers and prospects.

If they are active Twitter users, then the following tips may help you gain insight about them and give you some ideas on how to create the kind of value for them that builds trust and opens doors.

Just to be clear, however, these are not meant to be used to manipulate or create a fake show of interest, these are just practical ways to get the most out of your Twitter use while also focusing on targeted users and creating good content for your followers.

Scan the favorites

Once you’ve identified prospects and customers on Twitter there is a tool that might help you learn a little more about what’s really important to them rather then just monitoring their entire stream. You should have customers and prospects in Twitter lists so you can easily monitor their activity in a tool like TweetDeck, but you’ll also want to scan their favorites.

This tip isn’t 100% foolproof, but many times people will mark favorite tweets because they represent the things they really like and care about. It might be their own tweets about their most important topics or those of their most influential friends – either way it can be great information.

You can find a list of favorites by adding the word favorites after a username – my friend Jason Falls is going to be in Kansas City this week to promote his new book, No Bullshit Social Media, so I’ll use him as an example. You’ll find Jason’s favorites here – http://twitter.com/JasonFalls/favorites

Retweet the best of the best

Another way to provide great content for your followers and also show up in the streams of those you want to get to know better is to Retweet their tweets. I know, duh, but here’s where I add a tip that makes this something more strategic. Don’t simply RT everything they write, it’s not very effective and won’t do a thing for your followers.

Go to Topsy and find the best Tweets from your customers and targeted prospects and RT those. Depending upon who you’re targeting, their best tweets are likely ones that have been RT’d by lots of other folks already.

You can find this on Topsy with the search query – from:twitterusername. So you could find my most popular tweets with this search – http://topsy.com/s?q=from:ducttape (You can also create email alerts for your searches.)

Filter targeted search

I’ve always touted the use of custom filtering and aggregating of content as a great way to add value to the world and, more specifically, customers and prospects. The idea here is that you set up all kinds of searches that automatically feed you information that could be useful to a prospect or even to your own education about a prospect’s world and then package that information in a way that’s useful to your prospect.

RSS technology is a great aid here so you can easily subscribe to or show your prospects how to subscribe to these custom searches. Unfortunately, Twitter decided to make it a little harder for just anyone to subscribe to searches via RSS. (Many services seem to be moving away from RSS in favor of their own custom APIs – so perhaps the Twitter Dev page is a place to start some advanced education.)

In the meantime, I’ve found a query that still produces an RSS feed for custom Twitter searches (no guarantees on how long this will work.) If you want to create an RSS feed, so you can subscribe to the updates via Google Reader for example, for the search phrase “small business marketing” you would create it like this – http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=”small business marketing”+filter:links – the key here is to add search.rss to the URL and then standard query stuff – ?q= – and then your search phrase. I also added +filter:links so that I would only get tweets that contained links to web pages.

Try this yourself and you’ll find that you can create RSS feeds for Twitter searches. Get creative and create some searches that you know will contain great content that your prospects would love and then start sharing bits with them. They’ll thank you for it.

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