How to Offer Promotions and Generate Leads on Twitter

By Laura Fitton, Anum Hussain, Brittany Leaning

If you represent a company that has something to sell, you can find a unique home on Twitter. You may need to adjust your messages a bit so that you can shift from a hard-sell philosophy to an attitude of interaction and engagement that doesn’t necessarily follow a direct path to a sale.

But after you find and flip that switch from “talking at” to “talking with” potential customers, people on Twitter can interact with and respond to your company’s information ideas and products in ways that often lead to benefits for both sides.

You can sell-without-selling just about anything on Twitter. Whether you want to sell something large (such as used cars) or something small (such as shoes), you can probably find people on Twitter who need and want them.

These potential customers have questions for you about your item, your company, your staff, and you, and you can let them talk to you on Twitter about their concerns. You’re in business because you solve problems and fulfill needs for people. Spend your time on Twitter being useful and informative about the types of problems you solve, and the rest really does follow.

Some brands “sell-without-selling” by using Twitter as a point of entry to a long buyer’s journey, rather than trying to earn immediate action. One example of this is @Lowes on the business-to-consumer (B2C) side.

Of course Lowes tweets last-minute deals such as “Get $100 off a Dyson vacuum — today only!” but they also post creative photos and Vine videos that lead users to helpful blog articles for home remodeling or even the Kitchen Planner Guide. If you’re looking to turn your Twitter account into a return on investment (ROI) engine, take a page from Lowes’ book.

On the business-to-business (B2B) side, a great example of entering a long buyer’s journey through Twitter is @HubSpot. Because this is a B2B company, the term generally used here is “lead generation.” Let’s walk through an example of how HubSpot might generate leads using Twitter.

First, the account tweets a helpful blog post, possibly including an eye-catching photo or additional media. Once a Twitter user clicks the link in the Tweet, she’s led to a helpful blog post such as “How to Use Twitter for Business.” When the reader scrolls through the post, she sees a call-to-action (CTA) to download a free e-book.

This e-book generally expands on the blog post topic. When the reader clicks the CTA and reaches the landing page for the free e-book, she sees a form to enter her contact information in exchange for free information. From here, HubSpot follows up with relevant emails and other forms of helpful communication in hopes of “nurturing” her as a lead and building a relationship until she is closer to being ready to buy.

If you’d prefer to stick to Twitter-only promotions, take a page from the @DunkinDonuts book. This account hosts endless contests and sweepstakes, including #DunkinAppSweeps, #PumpkinatDunkinSweeps, and #DDCaptionThis.

Often, these contests are quite simple: unscramble a phrase, caption a photo, and tweet your answer to the hashtag. Prizes include gift packs, free food products, or even cash. What Dunkin’ Donuts gets out of these contests are new followers, awareness to the company’s Twitter account and hashtags, loads of engagement, devoted fans, and ultimately more sales.

Running a contest isn’t the only way to offer promotions on Twitter. @JetBlueCheeps is an account dedicated to posting limited-time deals for last-minute flights. Because Twitter is such a fast-moving, real-time network, this is the perfect place to post deals on the fly for avid and spontaneous travelers.

Suddenly, this Twitter account feels like an exclusive all access ticket to peek at JetBlue’s best-kept secret. People following this account can even receive SMS text updates to their phones whenever JetBlue posts a new deal.

You can replicate these companies’ successes by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Be interesting.

  • Be accessible.

  • Be genuine (mean what you say).

  • Be yourself.

  • Don’t hard-sell.

  • Don’t link spam.

  • Follow the 90/10 rule: 90 percent unselfish Tweets to 10 percent promotional Tweets.