Lee Odden

Guide to Twitter as a Tool for Marketing and PR

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

twitter-bird.gif

In a previous post on MyBlogLog tips, I had mentioned a series of social media marketing posts Online Marketing Blog will be publishing where many of the tips will actually come from the community they’re about. Our next post in that series is about micro blogging phenomenon, Twitter.

At first I balked at the idea of Twittering like many others but eventually signed up (leeodden) and have been tuned in ever since. Like blogging, there are many mis perceptions about the productivity potential for Twitter. Those unfamiliar will often say, What’s up with: “My flight is leaving”. “We landed”. “Getting in cab. Etc?”. Trust me, there is a method to the MicroMedia madness as both an individual and a commercial communications tool.

There’s both a social/play and a social/communicate aspect to Twitter that makes it productive as a promotional tool for pointing to interesting things you’ve found on the web as well as a tool for building credibility and influence. On their own, such updates can be blasé and uninteresting. However, followed over time, you can gain insight into people you may end up hiring, getting hired by, working for, partnering with or simply socializing with.

It’s true that some people do use Twitter as if they’re trying to copy the most boring blog on the web. However, many others are sharing links to timely resources or things they’ve found on the web that they’d like to share/promote immediately as well as tidbits of personal/business information.

A variety of commercial applications for Twitter have begun popping up including political candidates posting updates from the road as has happened with Barack Obama & John Edwards. Other commercial and marketing use examples of Twitter include JetBlue promoting special offers, the BBC posting news items, Apple posts it’s own news (bypassing the media – hmmm) and online retailer Woot posting deals throughout the day.

From a personal brand building and networking standpoint, the key is not to look at microblogging as individual posts, but think of the overall impressions and value that can be created over time. Each 140 character or less entry serves as a seed of an idea for an overall objective. It’s tempting to post something to get it off your chest as I did when a bike was stolen outside my office window and I pulled it out of the truck as the thieves drove away – all during a conference call. I felt I had to tell someone and I certainly couldn’t interrupt the guys from Intel, Ogilvy and iProspect I was on the call with.

Rather, consider an overall objective and keep that in mind as decisions are made about what kinds of personal info, links to useful resources and promotional items are posted. Over time, you’ll build a footprint and identify within the Twitter community. Building that footprint will be far more effective if you keep overall objectives in mind, rather than random information. Unless of course, your objective is to build an identity as a scatterbox. 🙂

Now for the Twitter tips.

Biz Stone via the Twitter Email Newsletter:
Jott, has created a way to send a Twitter update by speaking into your phone–your voice gets converted to text and sent out to all your followers. This is a
much safer solution for people who insist on updating Twitter when their attention is required elsewhere–like driving!
Twitter by Voice and more Twitter Apps.

Rhea” – Skim for links. They are often only used for passing news, as an action alert or resource grabber. It’s worth 5 seconds. Rhea Drysdale

andybeal” – I tweeted that I was looking to hire a new blogger and found Janet – so I guess Twitter followers are a good job pool 🙂 Andy Beal

TDefren” – Mix it up: share news, pontifications, reaction, blog posts. Aid in others’ discovery & contribute to the conversation. Todd Defren

SebastianXOften Twitter sends folks to new stuff way faster than RSS, and it’s a persistent link, valuable despite the tinyurl/nofollow crap, as long as you promote your profile a little. Sebastian

graywolf” – Use the twittertools plugin to automagically post new blog entries to Twitter. Michael Gray

trishussey” – Connecting your blog feed to Twitter and posting events and breaking news. Twitter is a great way to announced time-sensitive events like radio shows, etc. Combine with Twitterbar for Firefox and you can post right from your address bar. Tris Hussey

bhartzer” – Like a lot of other services, it’s important to add or follow other people first and then most likely they will reciprocate. Find your favorite twitter profile and view who they’re following…and follow them. Follow people and they’ll (hopefully) follow you. Also, when editing your profile on twitter, you can add more than one link in your profile. Turns out that http: link URLs are treated as links. Bill Hartzer

PeterHimler” – Fun to follow thought-leaders and journalists who often tweet their forthcoming thoughts on the site. Peter Himler

Additional resources on using Twitter as a networking, PR and communications tool can be found at:

Tools to make your “twittering” more productive:

  • Twitter Groups – Allows you to tag your followers into different groups. Then you can send a message to those groups without needing to send the message to each person one at a time.
  • TweetVolume – A frequency search tool to see how often a unique name (person, brand, etc) is mentioned on Twitter.
  • Twitter Tools – A huge collection of Twitter tools by platform as well as plugins, web services and widgets.
  • All Twitter Tools and Mashups in One Place – Maybe not all, but a very large list of desktop clients, mobile apps, mashups, plugins, tools and widgets.
  • Twittown Unofficial Twitter Community which includes Twitter Forge, a listing of Twitter plugins, Ttools, mashups and services.

Thank you to everyone that contributed! BTW, you can get our BIGLIST updates of SEO blog reviews on Twitter every Friday.

Do you have a great Twitter use or marketing tip to share? Please share in the comments.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Hey Lee, –
    Great post! Got a few articles on twitter I’ve done, might help out some people too:
    – Twitter’s 140 Characters Teach Wonderful Lessons
    – How Twitter Could Become Useful To Businesses

    ~Li (the other one 🙂 )

  2. We recently had a mail server crash and one of our clients who uses email to communicate amongst some 80 – 100 employees could have used Twitter for a back up. I’m thinking that when email fails (which occasionally happens) companies can use Twitter when mass communicating amongst several employees, so long as the communications are not confidential.

  3. Thanks for the links Li.

    David, that’s a good tip! Especially if IM is not allowed or blocked on a network. The Twitter groups application mentioned above could make it easy to write one message for distribution to many people.

  4. I’ve noticed you are really stepping up on the Twitters Lee. I’m starting to come around on it and this article will help me learn how to make the most of it with a current project I plan on launching soon. Keep it coming!

  5. Great post Lee. I’m speaking on a panel tonight in Portland and I was going to bring up Twitter as a great networking tool etc… I now will tell folks to check out your post as well.

  6. Thanks Chris and David. Much appreciated. Feel free to encourage others to leave any TwitTips!

  7. Christopher Rollyson says:

    Awesome contribution, thanks!! From a P2P communication perspective, I believe that Twitter holds tremendous promise; it’s a way, for example, for distributed project teams to come to understand the rhythm of members’ lives and can therefore reduce transaction costs.

  8. Great article. I’ve never considered Twitter as a marketing tool, especially with so many social media outlets available these days. However, I think these are great tips that can effectively and efficiently promote a business. Thanks!

  9. Matt Ellsworth says:

    Good advice – I have been using twitter for a while now. Its a great tool.

  10. Twitter is a wonderful tool, and your post helps understanding just how good it gets.

  11. Christopher, that’s a good example, thank you.

    Thanks for the feedback Gyutae, Matt and Xavier.

    One thing I think marketers need to be careful of with Twitter, as with all social media communities, is to focus on providing value and not treating it simply as another place to dump their formal marketing messages.

  12. Super article Lee – I agree with your comment Twitter not being another place to dump messages. I’ve recently blogged about how some politicians are blowing it with a blast approach; social media involves gentle courtship!

    Thanks for your insights, Vince Bank

  13. Thanks for the tips! We’re definitely going to start using Twitter for our real estate marketing blog.

  14. Thanks Vince, Barry and John.

    I’ll have to admit there’s quite a bit I’ve not included as far as actual “how to’s” but at least posts like this might get more people using Twitter, which helps everyone.

  15. Barry Welford says:

    Great article, Lee. I was a doubting Thomas for quite a time. However it has my vote, particularly if you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. Who knows in this huge Internet world may just spot it and make the link.

  16. Thanks Lee, these are great. I was on a panel in Portland just this past Thursday, and many of the attendees (PR folks) had no idea of Twitter. I will make sure to point some to your post, thanks.

  17. Nice job Lee ! (Just added you 🙂

  18. Thanks for the insight on Twitter. Sounds like a sure thing to add to the marketing mix. I’m taking a professional internet marketing course in SF and I’ll be sure to share this resource with the group!

  19. Is Twitter useful for SEO? After all my site is B2B and none of my clients Twitter… So far anyways…

  20. Hi Robin, thanks for that. I hope it’s useful. I already have a number of additional Twitter resources to add.

    Thanks Charlie.

    Boris, Twitter is not for SEO – directly anyway. Besides, the SEO so many are practicing these days is on it’s way out, dead.

  21. “It’s tempting to post something to get it off your chest as I did when a bike was stolen outside my office window and I pulled it out of the truck as the thieves drove away – all during a conference call. I felt I had to tell someone and I certainly couldn’t interrupt the guys from Intel, Ogilvy and iProspect I was on the call with.”

    Was this the Bulldog PR University Web Traffic audio conference? We wondered why you fell off for a little while there…

  22. Hi Sarah, yes that was it. 🙂

  23. Ha, it was weird. It was certainly unexpected right in the middle of the day out here in the burbs on the lake.

  24. Sarah Van Elzen says:

    Those Minneapolis bike thieves – you’ve gotta keep your eye out 🙂

  25. Thanks for the useful post. It captures the Twitter essence.

  26. I was a relatively early adopter of Twitter, which made sense for a while.

    Most of the reasons that people quote as why Twitter is relevant are the very reasons I’m not on there any more.

    For me personally, Twitter is more hassle than it’s worth, and it’s barely social anything, micro other otherwise.

    Pownce is micro-blogger. And with the insane character limit in Twitter, it’s atto-blogging at best…

  27. Just for fun, I created a couple of Twitter resources myself that people may want to check out:

    a Twitter news radar: http://snipr.com/twitter_grazr – this list consists of over 50 blogs and news feeds from Twitter-related sites and services, displayed in an embeddable Grazr widget.

    a Twitter account that follows about 100 Twitter accounts from Twitter tool developers: http://www.twitter.com/twtooltrack – open the With Others tab to get a time line from all accounts subscribed to.

    I’d be curious to get your feedback to these two initiatives.

  28. Thanks Marjolein! Updates on that second tool/account are protected.

  29. Hi Lee,
    Now that’s weird, I never consciously ticked that box to protect the updates. I opened the account immediately. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention.

  30. Great post
    When I had a first look at twitter, it didn’t become a pasionate aboat it? Why? It seemed that there is lots of irrelevant details of twitters lives such as I have just landed in NY etc. From my point of view there was too much information to get through. I have changed my mind, I had a look at several twitters sites and Twitter is about bringing people together and it features a vibrant community with lots of interesting info and news. you convinced me that it’s high time I included twitter into mix marketing:)

  31. Really informative article, it helped me a lot, had to come back a few times and readi it again. keep up the good work, thanks

  32. Hey Lee,

    I know this is like a year after your original post, but heck, I figured “why not?” Right?

    Here’s a few more twitter tips to add to your helpful list:

    #1.) Go grab a free account at http://www.twitterfeed.com and get it all setup to work with your blog. You can use this free service to AUTOMATICALLY post the title of every new blog post you make to your twitter profile, along with a link back to that blog post. It’s tremendously valuable.

    #2.) Go grab a free account at http://www.tweetlater.com and setup an “auto-welcome direct message” by following the instructions. In that message say something like “Thanks for following me on Twitter. I appreciate the follow & you’re welcome to come check out my blog at http://www.ProFromGo.com/blog

    #3.) Post when you feel like it and just go on there to have fun, because you’ve already implemented two awesome tools that are going to take care of AUTOMATICALLY getting you traffic. By just going on there and exchanging thoughts & ideas with other users you’ll quickly attract new followers.

    If you like these tips I have lots more that I included in a free report titled “The Twitter Report” along with some helpful videos too…

    IT’S FREE, so you have nothing to lose. If anything it will save you time tinkering around with Twitter because we’ve already figured it all out for you & documented our recommendations in this helpful guide along with videos:

    http://www.TwitterHints.com

    Let me know what you think. I’m easy to get a hold of…

    Sincerely,

    Chris Vendilli

  33. This is a great post even a year later–glad @DBSInteractive Tweeted it today! I just established a Twitter account for my campus and need to get it launched the right way, so I’ll be following lots of the links for more.

    For those who are into data, go to the Center for Media Research blog section at http://www.mediapost.com/blogs. Create an account and log in to get access to a free study “Walking a Day in Subscribers’ Shoes,” on age groups and their media/marketing preferences.

    Bottom line of the study is that there are some groups with a strong aversion to direct marketing in the SMS world so you might actually hurt yourself if you come on too strong.

    They highlight six personas & how they interact with different media:
    Wired Consumers
    Young Homemakers
    Retired
    College Students
    Teens
    Established Professionals

    @BarbChamberlain

  34. I totally agree with the tips outlined in this post. All of them are fantastic ways to use Twitter. I especially agree with the method of following interesting poeple on twitter, and most of them will follow you back.

    * It’s worth noting that a Great way to use twitter is as a mixture of Personal & Business/Promotional reasons.

    * If you Only post links to promote OR Only post random thoughts, chances are most of the interesting people won’t follow you.

    * BUT, if you mix it up a bit with both Personal thoughts & Business/Promotional tweets, You’ll come away with a fine blend and great results.

  35. It’s awesome that a blog post you wrote a year ago still has so much comment activity! I guess that means you’ve got good content. 🙂

    It’s been really interesting to watch how Twitter has evolved over the past 18 months as more and more businesses have started to use it as a marketing and community management tool. Some of them are doing a great job, following many of the guidelines posted here, but some are definitely missing the point.

    I’ve been particularly interested in how companies are using Twitter in third-party applications. We recently launched CheapTweet, a site that aggregates tweets about retail deals, specials and sales. CheapTweet users can find, save and vote on deals. On Twitter, stores can post information about their deals, but only their Twitter followers see that information. With CheapTweet, a store’s deals are distributed to a much wider – and generally motivated – audience. It’s just one example of how Twitter can be extended beyond the simple post and reply model, which I think is happening more and more often.

    CheapTweet is at http://cheaptweet.com

  36. I agree. Twitter is a great tool for social bookmarking.

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