Have you tried something like this? http://www.tweetalarm.com/ It e-mails you alerts when your keyword is mentioned. Then you go to Twitter and talk to them. If too many are coming in for you to handle this way, you'll want something like HootSuite (shows the search activity on your dashboard) or Desk.com (brings the search activity in as new support/sales tickets.)
If you don't know what keywords to use, you need to talk to more customers and listen to the words they use.
If there is no word or phrase to describe the problem your customers have, then you should start writing and blogging about the problem and give it a name.
We know what people call the probkem we solve and are actually already shaping the discussion quite a bit over here in Switzerland but now aim to increase our reach.
I have never been a big fan of Apps such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite but might just have to go with them. I have to say though that the desk.com integration sounds intriguing. We are a Uservoice customer but this really looks very neat and helpful
What you have is the usual business marketing problem.
How do I find people that need my product?
The answer is simple.
You can market at large and use big media advertising (TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazines, Adwords).
Or you can contact people that seem to fit your standard customer description directly through email or snail mail.
Of the two options, the one that works best is the second one. Selling directly to people costs less money, is measurable by how many direct sales were done as a result, allows you to build a personal relationship with the customer, and is easier to do. Plus you can do it yourself.
How you approach this depends on what your company does.
Also, monitoring Twitter like this is just a waste of time. You will be seen as a spammer. Twitter is a social network. People go there to socialize. Think of it as if you went into a party and started pitching people your products. Not a good idea.
The best you can do in twitter is to try and create a following by posting things that interest them. Then, if by chance, they need something like your product, they might get in contact with you.
Twitter puts the power on the prospects and not on the marketer. This is why it is a waste of time.
Shoot me an email (is in my profile). I may be able to steer you in the right direction.
In my opinion, this would've been a good strategy 3-4 years back. But now people are bombarded with tweets and messages they don't care about. So you're not likely to get a good conversion rate with this.
That's a hard question. I'm big on search, because people are more actively looking for a solution. Posting a question on Twitter is more passive. Setting up Google alerts on forums and blogs would be a wiser investment.
Yeah, I don't see them as mutually exclusive and actually, we are currently measuring what return on (time) investment the different sources have. Thanks for your insights.
To clarify, my intention was not to post a question on Twitter and see what happens but to react to people that actually talk / complain / ask for help with something that we can help with i.e. someone talks about wanting pictures with their contacts and we can help.