Twitter, now in its tenth year, might be one of the more mature social networks out there, but that doesn’t mean small business marketers really get it. The fact is, Twitter is ripe with prime business opportunities, if you just know where to look. Following are six things marketers should do on Twitter every day to engage clients and prospects and win new business:

  1. Listen: Listening is a vital component of any conversation, and this is as true in the social-media environment as it is in the real world. Listening via the social Web can be as easy as entering a few choice keywords (e.g., your brand, your competitor’s brand, industry-specific phrases, geographic locations, etc.) into the search facility on Twitter. You might be surprised to discover how many people are actively asking questions about your line of business. Actively listen for these conversations, and you could soon be speaking to potential clients.
  2. Engage: Twitter isn’t a one-way broadcast channel. It’s called “social media” for a reason — so get social, and enjoy the conversation! Be prepared to get to know your prospects before going in for the hard sell. The online social environment (like any other real-world social environment) does not provide a quick and easy route to sales success. Online, just as off, people buy from people they like and trust — so take the time to build relationships before going for the kill.
  3. Follow: Take the time to follow Twitter accounts relevant to your business. These could be potential clients or high-profile industry influencers (e.g., journalists, bloggers, consultants, etc.). A few minutes a day spent following the right people will help you steadily build your following. Your competitors’ Twitter accounts are a good place to start mining for new connections.
  4. Share: Invest in great blog content, and share it widely. Remember: The average lifespan of a tweet is only 18 minutes, so be sure to share often to maximize your blog traffic. Twitter has the potential to drive significant, targeted traffic back to your website. Think of it as a vital component of a wider SEO strategy (without the weird science).
  5. Endorse: Your opinion isn’t the only valid message on social media. Connect with industry influencers and potential clients by endorsing their opinions with the occasional “like” and re-tweet.
  6. Cross-Pollinate: Socialize everything you do to promote your business and send campaigns viral. You can add Twitter “share” buttons to virtually everything you do online to promote your business, including blog content, email campaigns and digital downloads (such as whitepapers and ebooks). Remember, in a perfect world, you will have the same people following you on Twitter as you will have subscribed to your email marketing lists. Engage your followers with social media, and sell to them via email.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.