How We Hack Twitter for Outbound Social Lead Generation

Using Twitter for lead generation is a simple tool that every business can use

The potential for using social media to bring you highly qualified fresh leads is really exciting, especially if your small business is just starting to take shape.

Unlike forms of advertising where a potential customer has to actively search for a solution to their problem in order to be shown an ad, social media gives you the ability to reach out to people who are complaining and present a solution, without them having to do any of the work. We can be right there at the point of pain, offering a targeted solution.

When discussing targeting with our clients we suggest targeting people according to their likes and interests, but the strategies we’d like to cover today are even more focused and can bring an unbelievable response rate. They involve a little more work than set-and-forget adverts, but with the right offer and sales process they can be extremely profitable.

What Is Outbound Social Lead Generation?

Outbound Social Lead Generation (OSLG) is particularly exciting for businesses that solve a problem, particularly in a local market. Because it’s new, this sort of strategy is very unlikely to be on your competitors’ radars.

People tend to spend money on advertising that is sold by someone, whether it’s local newspapers, Yellow Pages (remember that?) or Google Adwords. OSLG isn’t sold by anyone on a large scale (yet), so it’s just not part of their consciousness.

The principle of Outbound Social Lead Generation is this: people are in your area complaining about problems that your product or service solves. By offering help, advice or a targeted offer over social media, you can be in their consciousness right at the point when they need you most.

For example:

“They say it comes in 3’s first a broken dryer then my boiler packed up again now a burst water pipe in my bathroom! #VERYANNOYED” @Suzie (Twitter handle disguised)

This Tweet got no responses from plumbers, despite the fact that there are plenty of them in Suzie’s city and many are paying an average £2.30 per click on **Google Adwords to reach people with plumbing problems. Here is a potential customer crying for help and no one came to the rescue.

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Hacking Twitter’s Advanced Search

Searching for locally relevant Tweets used to require third-party apps and plenty of hassle, but it’s now easier than ever thanks to Twitter’s own advanced search. In the example above, all any of the plumbers in Newcastle upon Tyne would have to do is search for:

boiler near:“Newcastle upon tyne” within:10mi

This tells Twitter to find Tweets using the word ‘boiler’ within 10 miles of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It’s simple and if they’re monitoring this search they’ll be seeing jobs pop up that their competitors have no idea about.

While they might not be getting three jobs per day from this strategy, it’s free and can be set up to take no time at all.

But perhaps the plumber doesn’t only want to find boiler jobs?

boiler OR plumber OR drainage OR blocked drain OR central heating OR radiator near:“Newcastle upon tyne” within:10mi

If they want to get really fancy and narrow the search to Tweets that have negative intent and include a question, they can search:

boiler OR plumber OR drainage OR blocked drain OR central heating OR radiator near:“Newcastle upon tyne” within:10mi :( ?

And so on. The list of Twitter search operators is extensive (see below) and how you use them will depend on your specific market and your audience.

Once you’ve identified a search that works for your market and brings up relevant Tweets, you can save it. This allows you to access it quickly in future from a Twitter app on your computer or phone. Using an application like Tweetdeck can give you the option to keep this search open at all times, seeing live updates as new Tweets come in.


Alerts can be configured meaning that you find out as soon as someone posts a Tweet matching your criteria.

If you want to identify your own OSLG target customer, here are some questions to ask:

  • How might you identify people who are in need of your product or service?
  • Do they buy something else around the same time that they need you? For example, personal trainers can strike when the iron is hot by congratulating and offering tips to those Tweeting about joining a gym or checking in for the first time.
  • Are your customers at a certain place in life when they need your service? For example, local furniture stores could send Tweets welcoming people to the area and offering a ‘free housewarming gift’ if they Tweet or post updates about moving into a new house or apartment and are located within 10 miles. Wedding venues can send congratulatory Tweets to people within a 40-mile radius posting statuses, Tweets or pictures about getting engaged. As can wedding photographers, catering companies, wedding planners etc. All of these service categories will, at some point, be required by the Tweeter, so how better to introduce yourself than offer a simple congratulations and a free gift? It’s still so unusual that you are very likely to get noticed.

This part requires your creativity as well as a little experimentation, both in your targeting and your approach. As clichéd as it is, ‘thinking outside the box’ here can really help position you in a completely different way to your competitors, who are stuck standing in their shops hoping and praying that someone walks in needing what they offer.

Increasing your leads through this Twitter hack takes only a half hour of testing which searches work in relation to your industry. Isn’t that a short period of time a price worth paying for valuable leads that your competitors are missing?

Have you ever found a customer through a Tweet like the example above?


You can find more details on how to get the best out of your social media marketing via our new book Profitable Social Media Marketing: How To Grow Your Business


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