Home Entrepreneurship Listening to others pays dividends
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Listening to others pays dividends

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With an ear toward social first, Twitter can still be a profitable marketing platform. That begins with keeping one’s inner money grabber in check, opting instead to create personal, trustworthy connections.

A journalist by trade, Marshall Kirkpatrick learned his lessons as he grew from a single focus of chasing links to truly listening and reacting to what others think and say. Today, Kirkpatrick is vice president of influence, analyst relations and competitive intelligence at Sprinklr, a leading platform for analyzing modern communication channels.

He talked with Nick Martin of social media management company Hootsuite and digital marketing expert Madalyn Sklar about understanding Twitter as a marketing platform.

As Martin explained, recognition and credibility on Twitter starts with brand building.

“Create a list to follow thought leaders and content creators within your industry to help discover content to curate for your page,” he said. “Group competitors so you can keep an eye on their top-performing content and announcements.

“Identify high-priority prospects and add them to a list so you can focus your attention on their updates,” Martin said, “That’s social selling in action.”

He recommends that marketers create a list of employees and advocates to interact with and share content to showcase their stories. For examples, Sklar has posted her ultimate guide to Twitter lists.

“Twitter lists are incredible for finding topical tweets, putting conversations in context and sharing groups of people with others,” said Kirkpatrick, who has compiled hundreds of lists.

His expectations about Twitter have greatly changed since his social media introduction.

“When I signed up for Twitter 14 years ago, I was working as a journalist,” Kirkpatrick said. “I thought I could use Twitter to find breaking news tips at the South by Southwest® conference — and I did — but then, I thought I’d cancel my account to avoid distraction.”

Hatchling takes wing

Sklar also found her sights change.

“I joined Twitter way back in March 2008,” she said. “It was still new and felt very much like a way to text globally and connect with others. Twitter has come a long way since then.

“My content has evolved dramatically by incorporating practical marketing strategies,” Sklar said. “I quickly realized the importance of using Twitter as a listening tool just as much as a place to share my content.”

Kirkpatrick found himself shifting from using twittering to connect with interview sources as a journalist to passing along blog posts as a marketer. Lately, he tweets about climate change and shares stories from his employer.

“The most exciting thing about Twitter these days is that organizations are really listening to it,” Kirkpatrick said. “They learn from Twitter and incorporate its wealth of insights into their work. It’s not just for brand crisis monitoring anymore.

“I also love Twitter’s new engagement with lists, and the recipe from IFTTT,” he said. “I love to like tweets and send links to Pocket, which then reads the linked articles to me out loud.”

Sklar enjoys finding those with common interests.

“I can connect with like-minded people from around the world in a fun one-hour conversation each week such as in my #TwitterSmarter chat,” she said. “I’ve made so many amazing connections there.”

However, those who spam and abuse are not so amazing.

“My approach to abusive people on Twitter: Respond publicly to them with dignity, not for their benefit but for the benefit of others who see the interaction,” Kirkpatrick said. “That reflects well on me and poorly on abusers. But I’m a very privileged man, so I don’t get the worst of it.”

Rather than get down in the weeds with offenders, Sklar said the best way to deal with spam is to report it to Twitter

“You can also unfollow or mute the account,” she said. “Twitter should be a fun and pleasant experience. If you have trouble, let Twitter know.”

An analyst’s paradise

Rather than dwell on the negatives, Kirkpatrick is a huge fan of Twitter’s application programming interfaces.

API is an opportunity of historic proportions to be able to analyze public discourse at scale,” he said. “After that, my favorite features are lists, search and search of lists.”

Sklar promotes Twitter’s “little known Media Studio. I can post a video tweet that contains metadata — bolded headline and description — plus a call-to-action link.”

She illustrated this with a post from her Twitter chat.

Ultimately, the goal for marketers is to build business.

“Media Studio lets you have a call to action in your video tweets,” Sklar said. “It’s a great way to generate leads.”

One of her posts takes a more detailed look at Media Studio and how it supports video marketing.

“Lead generation on Twitter is best thought of as business contact cultivation,” Kirkpatrick said. “Connect with one person at a time — over time, through generosity — and prove your value. Build relationships, bring value to the network, then be visible when people have a business need arise.”

Too much of a good thing is a common malady. People burn out even on Twitter.

“I take occasional time off from engaging on the weekends to be more present with my family,” Sklar said. “It’s a great way to recharge and come back fresh.”

Kirkpatrick is especially attracted to starting anew.

“I like to revisit Twitter with a ‘beginner’s mind’ when I feel burnt out,” he said. “I practice opening my timeline, looking at the top tweet or two, imagining I was at a party and someone said that tweet to my face — and I respond. It’s hard, but good things happen.”

Sklar sees a bright future for tweeting.

“I love that Twitter is on a constant mission to make the platform better,” she said. “They have released so many helpful features in the last year. It gets better and better.”

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Jim Katzaman
Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

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