“I don’t get it” is one of the most common reactions when a business owner experiences Twitter for the first time. It’s really not surprising, since the method of attracting customers on Twitter is quite a bit different than the broadcast advertising model we’re all familiar with.

Today’s consumers are savvy, with access to forensic-level information about your products and services. If they want to know about your business, chances are they’re turning to social networks like Twitter to find like-minded people who have had direct experience with your brand.

Here are three of the most important strategies you should focus on in order to produce real business results on Twitter.

Top of Mind Awareness

Top of Mind Advertising

Twitter by the Numbers

Before the advent of social media, large corporations spent millions of dollars per year advertising across a variety of platforms like television, radio, print, point-of-sale, and so on. The goal of these blanket advertising campaigns was to make sure that the companies’ brands were top of mind when it came time for consumers to make their purchases. Top of mind advertising is as important now as it ever was but the methods to achieve it have changed.

Unlike some other social media platforms, there are no barriers between a brand and its customers on Twitter. A customer can speak directly and in real-time with their favorite brands, and the brands are expected to speak (or tweet) right back. As consumers engage with businesses on Twitter, a very strong affinity with those brands begins to develop. Furthermore, people tend to think of those brands first when they see tweets like this one in their tweetstreams:

“Anyone know a really nice B&B in city centre Cork? #please” – Denise Deegan (@denisedeegan) February 14, 2012

Not long after this tweet went out, it generated a number of replies, including this one from someone who obviously had “The Fernroyd House” at the top of his or her mind:

“@denisedeegan Fernroyd House. I know the staff if u want a number 🙂 very friendly. Great cooks :)” – Niamh Lynch (@BadHairDay95) February 14, 2012

Engage with your audience on Twitter, make your brand memorable to them and when the time is right, your followers can become an impressive army of salespeople working on your behalf.

Use Twitter to Generate Referrals

Twitter as a Referral Engine

Another example of how Twitter produces tangible business results is when other people sing your praises and proactively refer your business to their network of followers.

Assuming that you’ve impressed your customers, they’re now more likely than ever to share their experiences with your brand on Twitter. In fact, this social media referral network is proving to be so cost-effective that some top brands are refocusing their ad budgets away from traditional media like TV and print in favor of platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

If you can get your followers to endorse your business on Twitter, you can leverage a potentially huge audience, free of charge. In the example below, the person tweeting the endorsement for a couple of his favorite restaurants has over 5000 followers who will be exposed to this tweet!

Dennis Pang

To get an idea of how prevalent unsolicited endorsements are on Twitter, search the phrase “you should check out” and witness the results. Consider modifying the phrase to include your business name and see how many people are referring you on Twitter.

Use Twitter to Find Sales Opportunities

Twitter as a Sales Engine

You don’t need to invest all your time generating top of mind awareness for your brand or passively hoping that some of your customers will endorse you to their followers. Twitter can produce immediate business results when you know how to mine the vast network for direct sales opportunities.

As we’ve shown in the previous examples, people are willing to solicit and promote your business when they know who you are and what type of products and services you represent. But what about when they don’t even know you exist in the first place, is there still an opportuntity to generate sales from Twitter? The answer, as you might have guessed, is yes.

“Looking to buy a new wide/zoom lens. Looking at Tokina 11-16 f2.8. Any thoughts? Canon-mount?” – Nicholas Rivero (@nicholasrivero) February 12, 2012

Whether you sell camera equipment or cars, accounting services or art, people are looking for it on Twitter. Use creative search strategies to discover sales opportunities that are just waiting for you to convert. What could be better proof of Twitter ROI than that?

Have you used Twitter to produce tangible business results? If so, we want to hear from you.

[Source: Business Insider; Image Credits: *Focus, bark, ItzaFineDay, Stuart Pilbrow]