As a smart marketer or business owner, you are likely aware of the benefits of blogging and publishing helpful content on a regular basis. Doing so establishes you as a thought leader, allows you to rank well for relevant search keywords, and, as a result, brings more traffic to your site, which generates more leads. The classic inbound marketing example!

But how about social media, and Twitter in particular? How do you get more followers to spread your message to lots of people?

Sorry to disappoint... you really don't. Save that for the outbound. But here's what you can do on Twitter:

  • Connect with and listen to your customers and prospects.
  • Get new ideas for blog posts, products/services, etc.
  • Help others, and answer their questions.
  • Promote others' material/products.
  • Give credit to others.
  • Establish your Twitter account as a must-follow in the industry.
  • Promote your products/services. (Yes, it can be done after all! But do the other suggestions continually, at least 80% of the time.)

If you're new to Twitter and have yet to gain a following, you can do many things today to become a "must-follow account" in the future. Here are four tactics to get you started.

1. Use Twitter's search to connect with prospects

Do you ever wonder how many people talk about your services every day on Twitter? What exactly are they talking about, and what question do they ask? Finding the answer is easy; just use Twitter search.

Go to http://twitter.com/search, and use the following advanced search operators:

  • Use near:"city" to find local results (e.g., tennis near:"new york" or near:"albany, ny").
  • Use within:25mi, for example, to narrow down your search range by distance, in miles, to the city you've selected.
  • Use -http (minus sign http) to make sure that none of the tweets contain links.
  • Use ? (question mark) to show only tweets with a question.
  • Use "tennis lessons" (in quotation marks) to search for an exact phrase.
  • Use OR to find tweets that have any of the words in your search query (e.g., why OR what OR how OR where).

Mix and match any of those search operators, and you might end up with a search query similar to the following: tennis ? -http near:"new york" within:45mi. You'll see tweets that include the word "tennis," have a question mark, contain no links, and come from somebody within 45 miles of New York City.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Slavik Volinsky is an online marketer at AmsterdamPrinting.com, a promotional products company. Slavik blogs about inbound marketing and related fields. Follow him on Twitter via @svolinsky or subscribe to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog.