I'm constantly shocked by how every Marketer seems to just love Twitter. Or perhaps it's not the platform itself they're in love with, but rather the idea that "people are there, therefore we need to be there". With 255 million monthly active users and half a billion Tweets per day, that's understandable. However, simply "being there" is a far cry from a successful campaign, any more than shouting in a crowded subway station will successfully sell product (you are referring to selling here, but here are other uses of twitter).
Deriving any sort of benefit from using Twitter for business requires proper expectations, a strategy, and good old hard work. And it’s worth stating that while the cost vs. benefit ratio of Twitter remains fuzzy, a business should first ensure their SEO and Paid Search campaigns are running well before diving headlong into Twitter.
So what is Twitter Actually Good For?
There's a general misconception about Twitter; that it is the place to advocate your brand (or personal brand), and that people naturally want to hear what you have to say. The result of this is a whole lot of unsocial 'noise', similar to everyone just getting up on the roof of their building and shouting at the world. The reality is: no one's listening.
So what is Twitter good for? It's a fantastic media outlet, great for company announcements, and even better for customer service. It's extremely useful for live events and conferences. And since you're thinking Marketing Strategy, yes, if done properly it's good for engaging in conversation with like brands and influencers.
What Not To Do
Here are nine simple rules to help you avoid common pitfalls of using Twitter for business:
- Don’t expect sales
- Don't even necessarily expect leads
- Don’t expect your website’s "SEO" to be affected
- Don't shout
- Don't waste people's time with valueless 'fluff' (e.g. random thoughts for the day)
- Don’t delegate Tweeting without proper moderation
- Don't just share your own content, but share industry experts as well
- Don't duplicate tweets
- Don't use automated replies or Direct Messages every time you get a new follower
Examples of Poorly Executed Campaigns (a.k.a. "Wasted time & budget")
One of the more terrifying aspects of Twitter (or any social media) is the social aspect of it. Ultimately you're relinquishing control of the conversation. If you have an amazing product, and/or great customer service, that can work in your favour. If, on the other hand, you're McDonald's, it doesn’t!
In 2012 McDonald's created a campaign to promote their farmers' stories using #McDstories. Within 2 hours disgruntled patrons used the hashtag to share their horror stories! Lesson learned: always think about possible misuses before promoting a hashtag.
Another great example of a bad example is Lee Jeans. With full force behind "real-time marketing" they tried to capitalize on the sensation of the #Skywire tightrope event. By the end of it they’d produced a whopping twelve (12) ‘Favorites’, which may or may not have sold even one pair of jeans. Not to bash the brand (I’m sure the jeans are great), but it drives home the principle of not wasting time and budget, and how easy it is to do both with Twitter.
What To Do
To achieve success with Twitter, it’s Important to first define the end goal – what is it you actually want to achieve? This will help you further define your strategy for content promotion, sharing and outreach. But what does this mean in real-world terms?
How to Define a Strategy - Step-by-step
Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to create a basic Twitter strategy:
– Step 1. Define your Target Audience
Who do you want to reach? CEOs? Moms? Teenagers? It’s critical to know who you’re talking to, in order to know how to talk to them.
– Step 2. Determine Objectives
What do you want to achieve? As stated, it’s rare you’ll drive direct leads or sales via Twitter. However, do you want to increase traffic to your website? Enhance your customer service? Simply grow your followers to promote your brand? Understanding your clear objectives will allow you to easily decide which tactics are of value and which are a waste of time.
– Step 3. Tweet.
This may sound overly simplified – after all, you’re reading this article because you’re Tweeting now and nothing’s happening. Here are some Objectives, with ‘pro’ tactics:
Objective: Increase traffic to your website.
Tactic: Ask and answer questions people ask.
- Search for questions you can answer using tools like Twitter's search or Topsy.
- Use the person’s @handle, it will be seen by their followers also
- Answer questions directly, share content that solves problems
- Use tools like Twyalh.com and Klout.com to find and share relevant content
- Embed images and videos to increase engagement
- Automate Tweets using tools like HootSuite.com, SocialOomph.com or Twitter's own TweetDeck.com
Objective: Increase followers
Tactic: Engage and reward
- Have one-on-one conversations by using the public channel (@ feature)
- Thank people who re-Tweet or favourite your blog posts and ask for their thoughts to start conversations.
- Use #FollowFridays or #FF to recommend people to follow, and add a reason people should follow them (like an introduction - "Follow this people for content marketing advice @handle1 @handle2 #FF")
- Re-Tweet content from Twitter users that may be interested in what you have to say.
- At a conference make a public list. Add people to the list who Tweet the conference. They will be notified; you will be seen as a connecter/organizer.
- Use tools like Tweepi.com or Followerwonk.com to find, follow and engage with industry experts.
– Step 4. Measure
It is of utmost importance to measure the impact of your Twitter campaign. This will enable you to gauge success, as well as modify tactics over time based on what’s working (or not).
Depending on what your objectives are, the metrics you ‘care’ about will vary, as will the tools you use to measure them.
The simplest metric is your number of followers. But unless your objective is just to increase followers, it’s hardly important. Here are some more meaningful metrics to review:
- Follower location and behaviour (using followerwonk)
- Link engagement (using bit.ly)
- Referrals to your website (using Google Analytics)
- Re-tweets & mentions (using Twitter Analytics)
- Competitors’ activity and engagement (using Twitonomy)
- Overall reach and impressions (using Tweetreach)
- Day-parting effectiveness (using Tweriod)
There truly is an immense of confusion of how to use Twitter effectively. Due to its simplicity Twitter is easy to ‘do’, but even easier to 'do poorly'.
As a summary, if you wish to market effectively with Twitter (not wasting time and money), then follow our four-step process above. Be sure to track your successes, and adjust your campaign accordingly. Remember: as much as you may feel confused, Twitter marketing is new to the entire planet – we’re all figuring it out as we go!