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Now more than ever, lead generation for the complex sale is a long process of developing relationships with your prospects. Gone are the days of just getting names and making calls. Since Twitter is a fantastic way to build new relationships, it makes sense that B2B adoption continues to grow. However, because it's still a relatively new channel, many B2B marketers struggle with how to use it and aren't harnessing its full potential. With that in mind, here are 6 ways to generate and nurture more leads on Twitter.

1. Interact with People

This may sound obvious, but it's easy for B2B marketers to fall into the trap of simply tweeting thought leadership content and promotions. Content is important, to be sure, but the real benefit of Twitter is the ability to develop relationships. So interact with people, reply to their tweets, ask questions, and start building new relationships.

2. Don't Tweet in a Silo

Depending on the structure of your sales and marketing department(s), you'll want to keep tabs on who is a real prospect and who isn't (yet). After all, you may look silly suggesting to a seemingly new lead that they check out your product or white paper when they're already in the last stages of the buying process. However you do it, try to set up some form of communication between your sales and marketing team(s) so you: i) hand off good Twitter leads to sales ii) follow and engage with current prospects and iii) are aware of who is in the buying process and who isn't.

3. Provide Value and Advice in Your Tweets

So you're interacting with people and probably promoting your own thought leadership content. Fantastic! You're off to a great start. Now it's time to provide real value in your tweets and become a trusted advisor. So provide solutions. Offer advice. Help your followers solve their pain points. Say "A great way to increase ABC is by doing XYZ".

4. Monitor Relevant Keywords

Monitoring keywords is a great (and easy!) way to find targeted people to follow, offer timely advice, and stay on top of industry trends. Let's say you market dedicated server hosting. Make a list of relevant keywords that your prospects may use to describe their pain points, like "server downtime" or "network reliability". You can use an RSS feed to receive a notification when someone tweets with those keywords, or you can use the built-in functionality with a tool like Tweetdeck. However you do it, you'll be able to stay on top of what's happening on Twitter, and swoop in when someone complains about their current solution's reliability or downtime.

5. Monitor Your Competitors' Brands

The great thing about Twitter is that everything is out in the open. You can easily see who is tweeting to your competitors and what they're tweeting about. By monitoring your competitors' products and brand names, you can: i) offer advice to a competitor's customer who is having technical issues ii) engage with anyone who is considering a competitors' product iii) follow anyone who tweets about a competitor iv) follow people that your competitors follow v) stay on top of trends in the industry vi) engage with the people your competitors tweet to. Just don't do it all at once. That would be creepy and weird. And you don't want them to call you out on it.

6. Offer Lead Gen Opportunities

Finally, offer direct lead generation opportunities. Tweet webinars, reports, white papers, and content. Just make sure you're associating those lead capture pages with your Twitter marketing, so you can track the stellar ROI of your efforts.

Want to learn more about social media marketing for the high-tech industry? Join us October 26, 2010 in San Jose for SocialTech 2010 — the only conference that's all about social media for B2B high-tech professionals.

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image of Megan Leap
Megan Leap is Online Marketing Manager at MarketingProfs, where she develops innovative, high-ROI social media campaigns. Previously, she was Online Marketing Manager at ion interactive, a leading provider of landing page software, where she spearheaded their social media strategy from the ground up. She's also consulted with leading brands on social media strategy and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter @MeganLeap.