It’s great to have a large, engaged following reading and sharing your content. But once the number of reasonably active individuals and brands you follow gets beyond even a modest level, keeping up with those tweets can be overwhelming. The stream of tweets in your feed becomes a rushing torrent of pithy quotes, wry observations, and interesting links, all battling for your attention.
That’s where Twitter lists become valuable. Twitter’s list capabilities are powerful and flexible; You can create public or private lists based on any criteria, as well as view and share lists created by others.
To get the most value from this functionality, those lists should be set up strategically. Here are more than a dozen lists every B2B brand should consider creating (depending on specific needs and circumstances) as part of expert Twitter practices, and how to use each type of list.
Create a Twitter list of companies and individual contacts within those companies in order to get their attention, monitor their hot topics on Twitter, and strategically retweet select individuals and topical tweets.
Do not give this list an obvious name like “Our Prospects” however (unless you really want to share that information with your competitors). Instead, give it an aspirational label such as “Industry Leaders” or “Technology Innovators”—a list your prospective buyers will want to be part of.
Follow brand accounts for small to midsized prospects. Also follow key individuals (those likely to be part of the decision process or buying team for your product or service) at companies of any size.
If you sell multiple products (for example, compliance software and scheduling software) or sell into vertical markets with distinct needs (e.g., retail, financial services, pharmaceuticals, hospitals), consider separate lists for each product or industry segment.
You may choose to create this as a public or private list. If your broad prospect list is public, you may still want to create a separate private list for select individuals or prospects engaged in active sales cycles.
Keep track of what your customers are tweeting about. Look for opportunities to head off problems, address new needs, or just engage with them to support the relationship.
Again, give the list a positive but non-obvious label – not “Our Customers,” but something more like “Companies We Admire” or “Industry Visionaries.”
Also, as with prospects, it may make sense to segment customers into different Twitter lists by product owned, vertical market segment, or other criteria.
While you’re unlikely to discover any company secrets, monitoring your competitors on Twitter can alert you to new topics they are promoting, announcements, and in some cases even customer service issues.
This one should definitely be a private list.
Your Company’s Employees on Twitter
This can be a valuable resource for amplifying select company content. Include any employee who has and uses a personal Twitter account for business purposes. Depending on company policy and other factors, your may choose to make your list of employees on Twitter public or private.
Use this list to monitor tweets from relevant news sources and selectively share content or participate in conversations. Again, depending on the nature of your business, you may only need one media list on Twitter, or you may create multiple lists based on your different products or vertical markets. You may also decide to create separate lists for trade, business (particularly for startups or public companies), and local media.
Bloggers / Influencers
This is a critical list. Influencer marketing is a tactic that delivers ROI for B2B brands. But influencer outreach is much more likely to produce results when it’s a “warm” contact (someone you or your brand has had previous, positive interactions with) than cold outreach.
Adding industry influencers to your Twitter lists, selectively liking and retweeting their updates, and engaging with them generally helps initiate a relationship more favorable to social sharing or even guest blogging opportunities further down the road.
A Twitter list is a great way to keep tabs on what your technology, service, or channel partners and talking about online. It’s also useful for sharing interesting content they produce, and encouraging sharing of your content with their followers.
Use a Twitter list to monitor the individual industry analysts and firms who cover your market. It’s unlikely to influence how (or how much) they cover your company, but it will help keep you abreast of the topics they view as most timely and important, and will often provide interesting content to share with your followers.
Your Most Active Followers
It’s perfectly acceptable to include Twitter accounts on multiple lists. If your brand is actively engaging with all the types of people listed above, you’ll probably have some mix of customers, partners, industry influencers, and others who frequently engage on Twitter: mentioning your brand, liking your tweets, and tweeting or retweeting your content.
You may want to create a separate group to recognize, monitor, and engage with these brand fans and friends.
B2B product companies generally sell at least nationally, if not globally. But service providers (accountants, consultants, insurance brokers, and others) may focus on a specific city or area.
For example, an IT services firm with offices in Minneapolis, Denver, and Austin may have followers—and be following accounts—from all over the world. But it may want to set up groups to pay special attention to customers, prospects, local media, and influencers in those specific metropolitan areas.
You may want to set up one or more lists based on topic discussions rather than user characteristics. For example, you may use the Twitter search feature or a tool like TweetDeck to monitor conversations around a topic (e.g., #bigdata) and identify users to add to this list. Note that you don’t have to be following an account (nor do they have to be following you) in order to add them to a list
Finally, depending on your type of business, you may want to create a Twitter list of key suppliers in order to keep track of their latest announcements and topics of interest.
Twitter lists are a valuable and effective way to separate out a specific group of “voices” from the general noise of a busy tweet stream. They enable you to monitor important and timely topics, share helpful or interesting information with your followers, and selectively engage with accounts important to your business for a variety of reasons.
To maximize the benefits, B2B marketers need to create lists strategically. Determine what types of lists are really meaningful to your business; name them carefully; and determine which lists to share with the world, and which are best kept private.
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