10 powerful tools to increase sales through Twitter – with thanks to Joel Comm

18 August 2011 By Northern Lights

10 powerful tools to increase sales through Twitter – with thanks to Joel Comm image

I’ve just spent two weeks on holiday with a pile of books on social media for business.  I really want to sharpen up the results that can be achieved for our clients and improve our technical knowledge.

So far, I’m finding two thirds of each book tends to be basic and a lot of repetition between them all.  However, there are some real gems that I’m going to share with you in a number of blogs – with tips that we will implement for ourselves and our clients.

The first book is Twitter Power 2.0: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time by Joel Comm.  He has an easy writing style, gives lots of real life examples and is very open about his processes.

A warning to start – this book was first written in 2008 and it is a reminder that social media moves very quickly.  Much of the early part of the book feels dated purely because Twitter has changed so much since this was written – as a small example, the message box used to ask ‘What are you doing?’ and now it says ‘What’s happening?’.  For me, chapters 9 and 10 have the most new thinking and content.

1.       Sell your business on Twitter

This is so obvious that I am kicking myself about why we haven’t done this.

Create a background to your Twitter page which sells your business and specific products.  Joel changes his regularly depending on new products, services or books that he has coming out – and will put the image of a book up to promote it.

We need to put an image of our free ebook on social media for business on our background – and could do a list of our services on the other side.

Joel recommends a couple of people who do good Twitter background images which we are going to investigate

–           Hugh Briss from Social Identities

–           Matt Clark at TweetPages and Joel has negotiated a 10% discount for readers of his book

2.       Get a response from Twitter

Again, this is very obvious – but we never go ‘salesy’ enough.  We need to make people really want to follow and engage with us

Put into our profile or maybe on our background, something on the lines of ‘Follow us and learn as we tweet about social media for business, blogging, client successes and much more’.

3.       Become the recognised expert

This is what most of us want for our own business and our clients.  Joel recommends looking for experts in your field to follow, by searching for words such as ‘guide’, ‘guru’, ‘expert’ or ‘author’.

Turning this around, have we done enough to position ourselves using keywords (on our website, on Twitter, in our blogs) as experts or authors for others to find us?  Not sure we’d want to call ourselves gurus – British modesty?! – but there is probably a lot more we could do

4.       Give away free gifts

Initially when I read this I thought ‘we can’t do this, we don’t have consumer products to give away’.

But then Joel gives an example of Angie Jones (@fitbizwoman) who offered a free recipe book (with healthy recipes) for anyone who followed her on Twitter.  She just needed their email addresses to email a pdf.

How simple?

So we could create a free guide book or something that has value but doesn’t have to cost money as such.  Obviously we already have our free ebook on social media – but this is a chunky full book.  This could be quicker wins – tips and case studies perhaps.

Or if we were really serious about building followers, we could offer a product that we buy ourselves (such as a free Ipad) – by saying all our followers would go into a draw on a certain date and get people to start following us in order to be included.

5.       Analyse your tweet responses

This was perhaps the most ‘aha’ moment of the book.  In our business we analyse everything to death and I can’t believe we haven’t done this yet.

Joel categorises his tweets and then watches what happens to each one and also in what sequences.  He has come up with a tweet sequence formula that for him leads to a sale.

It goes like this (I’ve turned it into a table here for simplicity and added my own headings).  He gave this example for what a garden centre might do.

Wording of tweet Category for type of tweet Day of week Time of day Tweet replies Number of new followers Click through to website
First daffodil of the spring bloomed yesterday.  What a sight! Random thought          
Thinking of replanting my bonsai.  Anyone know which store has the best selection of pots? Question          
Putting down a new layer of mulch.  Whiffy stuff Action          
Spraying the bougainvillea.  I wish it wasn’t so big and thorny Action          
A beautiful spring day – warm sunny and with just a few clouds.  Let’s keep the rain off for a few days Random thought          
John Smith has written a wonderful book about miniature gardening.  Check it out at (link address) Click through          

6.       Which Twitter sequence gets the best result?

Joel firmly believes – as do we – that social media will not work if it is all about selling.  It’s important therefore that you aren’t asking people to click through all the time – and you need discussions, questions, random thoughts and so on throughout your profile to balance the ‘sales actions’ that you want.

He analyses sequences of what he does as much as the specific tweets to see when he gets the most increases in followers and click throughs.  And he believes the lead up to the click through – ie what your previous tweets were – are as important as the tweet that got the most response.

In the table you will see the sequence that he thinks works is that order of random thought, followed by question, two ‘action’ tweets, another random thought, then something that leads to a click through.

For ourselves, we would probably look at including retweets and ‘news item’ in our sequence analysis.

7.       When are your evangelists online?

You will see that I added into the table ‘day of the week’ and ‘time of the day’.  We all tend to be creatures of habit and Joel reckons you can analyse patterns as to who is online at what time of day.

In my case I am generally online late in the evening, Saturday morning and Sunday evening (don’t tell me I’m sad!).

If you are targeting particular people, it is useful to tweet when they are online so they spot your tweets and might respond.

8.       Advertise on Twitter

Initially I dismissed this.  In my mind it would dilute our brand to start advertising on Twitter – or on our blog.

But you have to be open-minded.  And Joel goes into how careful he is about what he advertises – and he even writes the Twitter copy for the ads until he gets to know the advertising partner.  He also makes it very clear it’s a sponsored ad.

He mentions SponsoredTweet ad – you have to have 200 followers and be at least four months old.

Then I started thinking – if we were advertising courses for our client (actually we’d do this for free for them, but you get the idea) or books that we rated and knew would help our clients, then why not?  It could add to our brand – and when the book was written, Joel mentioned $35 to $250 per ad, depending on how big a following you have.

This last area of advertising is the one that has given me most food for thought.  It feels uncomfortable – but I think there is a lot here that we should be looking into further.

9.       Use Twitter surveys

Again, this is something we often do – but why haven’t we done this through Twitter?

Joel asks his Twitter followers to take part in surveys (using SurveyMonkey).  We’ve been thinking about a second ebook and asking our clients what would help them.  Why not use Twitter as well?

10.  Offer to guest blog

We often approach other bloggers and offer our clients as a guest blogger.  Just never thought to invite others to do this for us through Twitter.  We could also put out an offer to guest blog for others on Twitter.

Joel suggests a tweet ‘Want to guest blog on my blog?  Send me a DM’ would land a ton of interesting content.

He gives lots of caveats about not diluting your blog and its influence.  I would add our own experience here – we would have to be very careful about the quality of writing and content.  A number of people have approached us with guest blogs that were no more than spam – articles written with 20 or so keywords purely designed for SEO (search engine optimisation), which we had to reject.

Is there anything new in these tips for you?  What do you think about the Twitter sequence analysis?  Would love to know if you try this out and how it works for you.  Happy to share your experience as a guest blog for us.


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Written by Northern Lights


  • HI Gareth
    Well, have to say I thought that about the Twitter account – surely no-one is watching your account all day to see our latest gems (we wish!). But Joel is very credible and I think this is worth trying – would love to hear if others try it out and what happens.

    Thanks also for these links re Klout and Tweepi – shall have a look at them in that next spare moment! Sound really interesting

  • Hi Victoria – another insightful blog article.

    The sequencing idea is great. I hadn’t really thought about things in that way. Doesn’t it take rather a lot of focus on the part of one particular account that follows you for them to put 2+2 together that way to take action on it, though? It does seem rather simplistic in a world where any one follower might see 1,000+ tweets a day if they are following more than 100 or so “Tweeps”. I’ll be interested to see how you progress.

    Did you try these two services: Klout (http://klout.com/corp/kscore) and Tweepi’s (http://tweepi.com, especially the “follow by followers” service (http://tweepi.com/follow_by_followers)? These two services, of all others I’ve seen, trialed and ditched, have helped me and others in my social network create a focus on-, engagement with- and – subsequently – influence-through relevantly targeted followers.

    Klout has a scoring mechanism to help you track your progress in social media influence; with so much of this social media malarkey seeming like an information-overload, it’s a simple metric to use to get- and stay focused. It shows you or lets you list who influences you as well and you can see what characteristics of those accounts make them more or less ‘influential’ in social media than you. That’s a learning experience in itself!

    With the Tweepi service, the key is to to think about the types of people you want to engage with before following en-masse; is it a regional focus, an industry one, etc? With their paid-for account (‘Silver’) you can also load and filter lists by Klout scores ~ in case, let’s face it, you want to only focus on networking with others who have a certain level of online engagement and social influence. I’ve also found that combining the new follows from Tweepi with a decent list management tool (I’ve always liked Hootsuite for this), also helps reduce the amount of time to stay on top of who’s tweeting what.

    I hope that these are useful to you if you hadn’t seen them before. For me, they’ve helped take the “theoretical” (e.g. Joel Comm’s advice) into the “practically implementable”.

    Gareth (@garetheverson)

  • Hi Victoria,

    Thanks for mentioning me in your excellent article. As quickly as things change with social networking sites it’s hard for any book on the subject to be current for more than a few months, really, but much of the information in Joel’s book is still valid.

    I hope you won’t mind, but since you linked to my blog I’d like to post the direct link to my website. http://www.socialidentities.com

  • Thanks Hugh (and glad we finally found this comment!) for such nice feedback – and would be delighted for you to post the blog on your site.

    We are always happy to do guest blogs and share – let us know if you would ever like to do one for us.

    Really appreciate you commenting and coming back – I said in an earlier blog this year (http://bit.ly/kuz1Tf) that I was so disappointed about how when people become ‘gurus’/get large followings they no longer seem to engage. I am still smarting that Tim Ferriss didn’t even send an email acknowledgement!

    Thanks also to Jonny Ross for rescuing us over the weekend – Hugh’s comment had gone to spam and I never thought to check it! Doh!

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