There’s nothing wrong with using Twitter to promote your business – but in order to really make money on Twitter, you’ve got to avoid some common pitfalls that marketers get stuck in. Depending on your business model, Twitter might be a place you conduct customer service, see what your competitors are up to, or simply gain exposure for your brand. And while those are great uses of the medium, we’ve got three ways you can make money directly from Twitter – without being sleazy.

Affiliate marketing, with a personal touch

If you use affiliate marketing to make money for your business, you can turn to Twitter to help. However, keep in mind that Twitter should not be your only sales platform, and, in the same breath, Twitter should not be only a sales platform. What do I mean by this? Basically, you want to use other social media tools to reach potential customers in addition to Twitter, and you want to use your Twitter account for more than just sales pitches.

Twitter can be a marketer’s heaven, but only if you understand your audience. Twitter users have a timeline feed of all of the tweets from everyone they follow, updated in real-time. So think about how you’re using Twitter to make money, and how this could potentially clog up your followers’ feeds. You don’t want to schedule sales pitches every hour, or your account will seem like a spam bot. Try interspersing some personal thoughts, commentary, retweets and multimedia in with your affiliate marketing. If your audience trusts you as a person, they’ll be more likely to buy from you in the end.

Find leads and offer genuine value

Twitter is a network of people who have diverse interests, needs, and desires. There are likely hundreds or thousands of people on Twitter right now that would like to hear more about your business – but they simply don’t know it exists.

You can use the search function on Twitter.com (or, for advanced users, try a social media management platform like HootSuite) to find leads and generate sales on Twitter. Simply search for words or phrases that your typical customer might use in a tweet. This will take some trial and error, but once you’ve got three to ten great keywords, you have a goldmine of potential leads.

In order to reach out to potential leads, you’ve got to send unsolicited messages via Twitter. To avoid being sleazy, go the honest route – send an @mention to possible leads using a very soft sell, and letting them know that you found them via Twitter.

Get creative

Social media isn’t like any other type of communication. It offers us new ways to connect to one another in two- and more way conversations. So, if you really want to experiment with ways to make money on Twitter, why not get a little creative?

You can make money on Twitter by getting your followers involved in your business. Run a campaign asking for creative input from your customers, like getting them to design a decal or write a product description for you. This won’t lead directly to sales, but it will increase your visibility on Twitter as well as brand loyalty of your followers.

Some final tips and tricks to making money on Twitter

  • Avoid hard-sells: Twitter users are looking for real connections and valuable information, not sales pitches
  • Don’t use Twitter only for making money: build a community, a brand presence, and engage with your followers
  • It’s not all about the followers: quality matters much more than quantity, so if you have a low follower count, you can still make money by achieving a high conversion rate or by generating leads using search