The latest talk in the world of sales is definitely surprising: Twitter has beaten LinkedIn as the number one social platform for sales professionals. According to a new study by Kitedesk and A Sales Guy, Twitter has edged out LinkedIn—even if by a small margin—to become the most used social tool for sales people. I think many of us, especially those with B2B backgrounds, are taking a step back hearing this news.
We have been using LinkedIn for ages and it has been hammered into our heads that it’s the best tool for business. That’s why, for many people, LinkedIn comes to mind first when we talk about social media for professionals. On the other hand, Twitter has always been associated with community building and quick, 140 character missives. But there’s more to it than that.
Forbes columnist Mark Fidelman’s company was behind the new study, and he cited viewpoints from some of today’s leading sales professionals in this article. My favorite comes from Vanessa Di Mauro, CEO and chief digital officer of Leader Networks. She says, “Professionals are more protective over their LinkedIn connections than their twitter exchanges. I like to describe Twitter as the bar after work—where you keep your tie on but loosen it a bit, and LinkedIn is the conference room in the corporate office.”
Makes sense. I mean, communication that exudes a warm, human touch is far more effective in knowing and understanding your prospects than distant and cold corporate speak, right?
Reasons Why Twitter May be Better than LinkedIn
I’ve been an active user of both LinkedIn and Twitter for many years and I think the biggest difference lies in the engagement factor. Twitter is a more natural and spontaneous way to strike up a conversation with people. LinkedIn, while it lets you connect with people, isn’t so great when it comes to engaging with them.
Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble and founder of the granddaddy of CRM software GoldMine, commented on a Facebook post I wrote on the subject:
“LinkedIn is like going into the lobby of your business contact. Twitter is more like going for a walk or taking them to lunch or a ballgame. Facebook is like having dinner in their home. All are great ways to connect. You need at least two of them to be effective. If I was restricted to one I’d choose Twitter. It’s the most relevantly natural way to authentically connect in a human personal way.”
Twitter Opens the Door to Conversation
Twitter allows you to get into a conversation with anyone you want. On LinkedIn, if I wanted to know what interests someone, what they’re sharing or what they’re talking about, I’d have to send them a request to connect with them, which they may or may not accept. Twitter is a more open platform where I can pretty much follow anyone without being gate-checked.
Twitter is More Cost-Effective
Since Twitter offers users the option to receive direct messages from non-followers (as long as that user has their settings adjusted accordingly), the opportunities for sales people to communicate about their brands or businesses is broadened significantly. LinkedIn’s direct messages or InMails are not only restricted to premium users, but they are limited to up to a certain number of uses, after which you need to buy more.
You Get to Know People Better on Twitter
Twitter enables you to learn more about your prospects. Random, casual tweets reveal more about a person than industry updates and the well-thought-out articles they may share on LinkedIn. This is key to successful sales activities. Plus, you can easily track popular topics and conversations using Twitter’s hashtag feature. Another tip for businesses is to use a separate Twitter account that follows around 20-30 of your top prospects, both companies and individuals. This allows sales people to filter their feeds and narrow their scope when choosing to reach out to someone relevant.
This is why Twitter is more open, inclusive, and easier to use to “listen” for relevant information. It is simply easier to get involved in a conversation and filter out the noise.
As the benefits of using Twitter for attracting business becomes more evident, I think we’ll see more sales professionals making progress by taking this specific social route. However, what’s most interesting is the fact that sales pros are already recognizing Twitter’s worth. I’m excited to see where this takes us.
This article was written by Daniel Newman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.