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Why Use Twitter for Marketing?

In the 11 years since its birth as a microblogging channel, Twitter’s evolution has been nothing short of amazing. It has changed the way people consume and disseminate information, the way the biggest brands and personalities interact with their customers and fans, and ultimately, the way the world communicates.

And as the social network grew to a massive 300+ million active users in 2016, with a rate of 6,000-7,000 tweets being sent out per second, businesses have been quick to utilize Twitter as a major marketing tool. The personal nature of the conversations afforded by Twitter has allowed brands to engage with their audience in a way that cultivates trust—a major key in this age marked by digital marketing.

And while Twitter marketing has grown exponentially over the years, if you haven’t yet, it still isn’t too late to get in on the action and make it work for your business.

Start with a Plan

Like with any other marketing endeavor, you can’t get anywhere with Twitter without a clear and definitive plan. Start with outlining your objectives, and what you want to accomplish with establishing and developing a Twitter presence. While every marketing campaign has, at its core, the goal of increasing your revenues, it’s important to understand that there are a plethora of ways to do so without pushing your product/service with every tweet.

Here are two questions you need to answer before creating a Twitter marketing plan:

  • What do you have to offer? Asking yourself this question allows you to guess what potential customers can like, and eventually love, about your brand. In other words, identify the image you want to project to your audience.
  • How do your customers engage with you? Before you can get a clearer grasp of how you can utilize Twitter for your brand messaging, it’s important to understand how your existing (or even potential) customers are engaging with you. Whether it’s by visiting a physical store, visiting your site, or subscribing to your mailing list, understanding where the touch points currently are and why will allow you to develop a Twitter marketing strategy that can improve on them.

These questions should help you come up with the key insights you will need for your marketing plan; However, answering them efficiently won’t be as easy as writing down the first things that come to mind – having accurate data is essential. Here are some research methods you can use:

Twitter’s advanced search features (filter by words, types of accounts, location, etc.) allow you to find potential customers and get crucial insights into how they’re talking about businesses and brands similar to you, and how they interact with them. With Twitter’s advanced search, you can be as specific as possible by filling in all relevant criteria:

By researching your target followers’ tweets, you can jump into the conversation and get a general feel for what kind of content you can push with your Twitter marketing campaign. Make sure to be as specific as possible and aim at finding influencers that talk about the topic or keywords relevant to your brand as they might be able to help you in your future campaigns.

In order to access advanced search from ordinary search results, you can expand the “Search Filters” box in the top of the right sidebar by clicking on “Show”, and then clicking on the “Advanced Search” link.

Competitor Research is another useful practice for collecting data for your marketing plan: since Twitter has been around for quite some time it is almost impossible to not have a single competitor within your niche that has already started utilizing this platform.

Apart from potential customers’ tweets, you will also gain valuable insights by searching your competitors’ tweets. Even by just simply scrolling through their feeds, you can obtain useful data such as tweet frequency, type of content tweeted, and how well their tweets are doing with their audience (number of likes, retweets, comments).

Competitor research not only helps you generate ideas on how others perform marketing activities using this channel, but also identify what works and what doesn’t to know what to focus on in your own Twitter strategy.

Building Your Audience

There are two general ways to build your Twitter following: growing it organically or through targeted Twitter ads. Below we will look at the organic growth option in more detail and outline some of the technical steps to take in order to see a steady increase in your follower base; the advertising will be covered in the respective section below.

The first place you’ll want to turn to for more Twitter followers is your own existing traffic – your readers, clients, and other individuals that interact with your brand online. There are several ways you can tap into this source, including:

  • Adding a “Follow on Twitter” button to your website: this can be as simple as an image linking directly to your Twitter profile page.
  • Displaying a “Tweet” button on your content pages, or using widgets/extensions to make your content easily retweetable (such as this cool inline sharer for WordPress. Twitter has a tool for quickly generating the needed snippets here.
  • Inserting social profile links into your company emails: apart from helping grow your audience, it might also improve customer service by providing your clients with more ways to get in touch with you.

Another way of widening your Twitter reach is utilizing #hashtags. Those are basically keywords or keyword phrases (without spaces) prepended with a hash sign (example: #satoristudio). Hashtags are used to categorize tweets and increase their visibility, leading to more engagements.

There are two main ways you can benefit from these little identifiers:

  • Using trending and popular hashtags gives your tweets a chance to be viewed by more people. You can identify such hashtags by using online tools like Hashtagify, a specialized search engine which provides you with a list of hashtags closely related to what you originally searched for, along with useful information like popularity scores and weekly trends.
  • Creating your own hashtags to drive engagement: promoting a specific event (for example, #YourEventName) or conducting a Twitter Q&A or a Twitter chat. In order to use this strategy successfully, you must be sure that your audience are engaged enough to disseminate your new hashtag by re-using it in their own tweets.

Promoting your Twitter on other channels can be a useful tactic as well – whether its Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or other social networks you’re on, letting those audiences know about your Twitter account gives you the chance to reinforce your Twitter following with people that you know already enjoy the things you publish on other social media.

Finally, we should also mention engaging with people directly and proactively, by using specialized search tools like Followerwonk which allows you to find profiles of people that match your target audience criteria. This is a particularly powerful strategy for getting in touch with the so-called influencers – key Twitter users with large audiences of their own which act as opinion leaders.

Once you find twitter users who are relevant to your brand, you can follow them, send them a tweet, or respond to one of their own tweets – engaging moves that encourages them to give you a follow back. When it comes to following people, though, take note that Twitter limits the number of people you can follow per day.

Now that your Twitter followers are on the rise, let’s look at how you can interact with them in a manner that is both useful to them and converts into long-term revenues for you.

Engaging on Twitter

When it comes to content, there are two basic approaches with it comes to connecting with your social media audience—curation and creation.

Creating your own content allows you to build text and media assets that can be used and re-used at your discretion, while driving traffic to your own site. The downside is that regularly researching, writing, and designing original and useful content requires significant resources. In any case, quality is preferred to quantity here, as your audience will quickly leave if you make them feel like you’re creating content solely for its own sake.

Curation is identifying third-party content – text, videos, photos, and even memes – that you think your audience will appreciate, and sharing it with them on your social media account. This approach allows you to build a reputation as an unbiased source of useful content, the only caveat is that most of it will channel your traffic to other websites and not towards your own.

Of course, you can always mix the two approaches, while keeping in mind that the goal is to be useful to your audience. The 80/20 rule is often used in such cases, meaning that circa 20% of your tweets can be directly aimed at promoting your products or services, and the rest can be your own or curated content solely for the benefit of your followers.

Content and self-promotion don’t have to be the only ways you use Twitter: as noted by Shopify, 67% of consumers use social media as a platform for customer service, with a third of customers preferring these online channels over more traditional ways like calling and emailing.

It is important to note that due to the fast nature of social media, customers who reach out to your brand via Twitter expect to get a timely response – whether it’s addressing an inquiry with a helpful tweet or inviting a customer to contact you via other means to solve more complicated issues.

Advertising on Twitter

While a significant proportion of businesses do use Facebook ads these days, paid promotion options on Twitter are much less known and are quite under-utilized; this presents interesting opportunities in terms of both building your follower base and driving sales. Twitter ads are basically sponsored tweets which are shown to a specific audience built using the filters you define.

When you create a new advertising campaign on Twitter, you can choose between several objectives, including new followers, building brand awareness, generating buzz, or increasing conversions. Each comes with tailored solutions that help achieve your specific goal and track your results in real time.

Tracking Your Results

The great thing about digital marketing is the abundance of (real-time) data to measure the success of your campaigns – and Twitter provides their own analytics platform (can also be accessed by clicking on your profile icon and choosing “Analytics” in the resulting drop-down list), with valuable insights such as tweet impressions, profile visits, link clicks, engagement rates, as well as detailed analytics about your audience such as break-down by interests, location, and demographics.

As with many other platforms, it is often useful to take a lean approach to Twitter: testing several tactics, analyzing the results, then boosting the ones that have the highest performance and killing the rest.

Over to You

With a massive number of active users, wealth of advanced features, and a in-depth analytics platform, Twitter has evolved to become a powerful, multi-dimensional tool for businesses, particularly when it comes to digital marketing.

There’s a multitude of ways you can utilize this social media platform to build your brand and enhance the bottom line, while always staying 140 characters or less away from your audience. And with the growing number of third-party tools that add even more functionality to Twitter, the possibilities are virtually endless.

Pour your heart out

1 comment

Bookmarked and shared to my colleagues. Great guide, Jolina!