Lee Odden

5 Steps to Build a Twitter Marketing Strategy

Twitter MarketingSo you want to succeed with Twitter eh? Before you run off and chase shiny butterflies and little blue birds, take a seat and collect yourself. Then read the following tips on creating a potential Twitter marketing strategy that will help you become more productive and successful using Twitter for business.

First things first. Who are you trying to connect with?

1. Describe your target audience on Twitter.  If you’re not an active participant on Twitter, then research. Do the homework and write it down, including Twitter handles of actual target users. If you’ve been able to go so far as develop a persona that represents your customers that spend time on Twitter or social media sites in general, that’s even better.

The first step in scoring is knowing all about the goal.

2. What outcomes are expected from Twitter participation? Besides being able to say you have 50,000 followers, of course. Incidentally, we experiment with Twitter accounts and those that have a substantial number of followers do not always result in the the most retweets and web site visits. This is important in the fans/friends/followers game. It’s not how many connections you have, it’s who you’re connected with that determines the propagation of tweets, spread of links, traffic, etc.

It’s essential to know how success with Twitter will be measured. If it’s just follower counts, heck those could probably be purchased. (Which TopRankMarketing does NOT recommend)  However, that would be a fake network without effect.

Where does Twitter fit in?

3. Where does Twitter fit within your overall online marketing strategy? Is Twitter meant to be a customer service tool? Brand monitoring? Monitoring for sales opportunities? Promotion of other corporate social activities? (ie blogging, Facebook, YouTube, Etc) Does it support some other communications function?

As a communications and social networking tool, Twitter can connect with customers, prospects, journalists, employees, candidates, investors and marketing partners. Understanding where Twitter fits within the overall mix of online marketing and communications will help with: allocating monitoring and engagement resources, establishing a working social media policy, workflow management and reporting. You may very well find a number of synergies available through Twitter, such as connecting with journalists and bloggers for PR purposes but also encouraging link usage when citing the company to assist with SEO efforts.

Twitter is a tool and only as useful as the tactics you use.

4. A firm grasp of the first three steps really needs to be addressed before useful tactics should be implemented. If all you do is focus on Twitter popularity tactics without addressing a plan for reaching other goals (hopefully being popular isn’t the sole goal) then the investment in time and effort becomes more like guesswork.

First and foremost for tactics, the Twitter page needs to be designed and optimized. If a business has the expectation to be perceived in a significant way, then the Twitter page needs to avoid looking insignificant. Tweets need to be diverse, yet follow a theme that is consistent to the messaging and audience goal. Kudos to customers and offering tips are great but alone are not going to attract followers fast.

There are a few tactics with Twitter that are almost always a good idea regardless of the audience, goals and overall plan:

  • Having a persona or target profile in mind, research Twitter users and follow them.
  • Associate the Twitter account with something else that is social, such as a YouTube Channel, Facebook Fan Page and/or a blog.
  • Make an effort to link to a small number of high quality and creatively written resources, daily. Mornings are best. Brand these with a hashtag like #yourbrandtips, where “yourbrand” is the brand within your company that this Twitter account is focused on. It could also be a behavior or action. Ex:  #niketips or #runningtips.
  • Schedule a #yourbrandtips Twitter event every month, two weeks or weekly. This would be run like #blogchat where a real person from your company hosts a chat on Twitter about topics relevant to your offering and useful to who you’re trying to reach. Ideally there would be influential guests involved so that their tweets attract new followers to your brand’s Twitter account.
  • The company should really post their twitter handle everywhere their web site address is posted.
  • Find a way to ask followers questions, then use those answers in blog posts, which are promoted via the business twitter account.
  • Create a Twitter list of a segment of the target audience. One list for each segment. Then solicit followers asking for recommendations of people that belong in the “segment one” list or “segment two” list. Ex:  “librarians” or “network administrators”. Mention that anyone who retweets a link to the list can get added to that list – provided they belong. Lists must be relevant and managed to be of any use. Promote lists with Listorious.com.
  • Use #FollowFridays or #FF to recognize people that retweet the brand’s Twitter content the most. Also mention influential Twitter accounts that you have had some connection with. They might retweet the #FF and expose the brand Twitter account to new audiences.

Measure twice, Tweet once.

5. Measurement with Twitter can be tricky such as identifying referrers via various URL shortening services, but it’s the most important. By “measurement”, I also mean monitoring on an ongoing basis, not just counting outcomes or KPIs. Followers is just one dimension. Based on what the brand is trying to achieve, a mix of data points and measurement tools should be implemented. Some example metrics:

  • Tweets published
  • Retweets & potential reach from those retweets
  • New targeted Twitter users that are followed by the brand’s Twitter account
  • New followers of the brand’s Twitter account acquired
  • Direct traffic from Twitter to brand’s web pages. URL shortening services should be used like bit.ly
  • Mentions of the brand in Tweets without links
  • How many lists the brand Twitter account is included in
  • What new Twitter users has the brand’s Twitter account added to it’s own organized lists?
  • How many engagements or discussions the brand’s Twitter account has with other users
  • Connections (follow, retweet, @message, DM) with targeted Twitter users

Example Tools:

  • search.twitter.com
  • social media monitoring tools
  • Web analytics
  • bit.ly
  • cotweet.com, hootsuite.com, tweetdeck.com

Obviously, there are many other tools for Twitter out there, including overall social media marketing campaign management tools such as: Wildfire, Objective Marketer, Spredfast, SocialTalk, pop.to and others.

Sure, you can “experiment” with tools like Twitter and find your specific strategy as you go, but you could also find productivity and valuable connections a lot sooner (as well as effective time and resource management) if you create a plan that addresses who you’re trying to reach on Twitter, what goals you hope to achieve and a plan for getting there. Make no mistake, there will always be a component of on-demand and real time  or opportunistic marketing with Twitter. The platform is still so new that the community is finding new and innovative uses every day. You might find new uses too, so don’t get too committed to a single focus in your Twitter efforts. Be flexible, curious and willing to participate.

Some tactics are always a good idea and some will reveal themselves as you develop your Twitter network and participate with the community.  Measuring success on Twitter has everything to do with goals, so make sure you’ve spent at least a little time figuring out where Twitter fits in with your overall social media marketing strategy and then what tools make the most sense to use when measuring success.

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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. This is a great post and will be definitely be useful for people who are trying to use Twitter to do marketing

  2. Thanks for the tips, Lee. Does Top Rank advocate including web analytics campaign tracking parameters (e.g., for Google Analytics) to track tweets even more closely? I like to put them in key tweets that I send out and really do like the insights I can can take away. But it seems like so many Twitter clients destroy any tracking integrity (i.e., showing up as direct traffic)… do you find that this measurement tactic is more trouble than it's worth?

    • It's a trade-off, short urls for less that comprehensive metrics. We try to use bit.ly and get data from that but I personally don't use Google campaign tracking parameters with URLs promoted via Twitter. However, our consultants most likely do.

    • It's a trade-off, short urls for less that comprehensive metrics. We try to use bit.ly and get data from that but I personally don't use Google campaign tracking parameters with URLs promoted via Twitter. However, our consultants most likely do.

    • It's a trade-off, short urls for less that comprehensive metrics. We try to use bit.ly and get data from that but I personally don't use Google campaign tracking parameters with URLs promoted via Twitter. However, our consultants most likely do.

  3. marksysomos says:

    Another social media monitoring tool that can track Twitter is Sysomos Heartbeat and MAP – http://www.sysomos.com/products. Both products feature geo-demographics, automated sentiment and the ability to identify key influencers.

    cheers, Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communciations
    Sysomos Inc.

  4. Great advice on a social media tool that people are still trying to fully understand how it will help their business.

  5. Fantastic suggestions Lee.

    With regard to search.twitter.com you can use this to search out the discussions that your business needs to be a part of. Once you find those discussions, its imperative that you get involved in them.

    One more thing, that many (actually too many) businesses are missing the boat on. Being “social” as in interacting with your followers is critical. If followers wanted one way info, they could simply go to your website and be done! You can’t just show up and spew out data, you need to put a face on the brand. Interacting encourages engagement and engagement creates unshakable brand equity!

    Thanks again Lee!

    Respectfully,
    Paul Castain

  6. Alex McDonnell says:

    This is a rare and comprehensive post on Twitter marketing. It’s not often I see this covered in such detail in a blog post. Usually, it’s some ramblings about how awesome Twitter is and how some “dude” is making $1,000 with it.

    Interestingly, this is a very timely post for me. My agency has recently been asked by a financial consultancy business in the UK to give their head of marketing and a team of their consultants a workshop/seminar on how to use social media in promoting their brand and they specifically made reference to linkedin and twitter.
    I have marketed and used Twitter for some time now, but I have never given any kind of presentation on it. I am just putting the content together at the minute, and it was reassuring to see my content and approach mirrors a lot of what was described here.

    • I'm glad it was helpful Alex. Some of our posts, like this one, come as a result of answering people's questions. That's a content sourcing tip too 🙂

  7. i was not using twitter earlier but now am using this and i will certainly use your points.

    Thanks

  8. teresa17882 says:

    Good article. I was under the assumption that the more followers i had the more money i could make. But believe me nothing happened. I never set goals or targeted users. I should try your tips!!

    Thank you!!
    Cheers
    Teresa

  9. Great post Lee! This has been ReTweeted and bookmarked for reference 🙂

    I've found that engagement has been critical to success – not shocking obviously. But I like engaging with people that have nothing to do with my target market, as well. It's turned into amazing REAL friendships, but also connections to other people that have turned out to be tremendously helpful to my business and brand. I've hosted an online reality show with Deal or No Deal models and gotten a book deal all through engaging other people on twitter outside my market.

    It's a fantastic platform for personal and professional success, when done right.

    • Thanks Todd. It's amazing what happens when people actually talk to each other. 🙂

    • Thanks Lee for this great post. Especially useful the #yourbrand tip you gave.

      I'm relatively new to Twitter and like you said Todd, engaging with people has been the best thing about it. I'm so shocked at how many spammy messages are sent shouting out “click my link, click my link”. I think those people are completely missing the point!

      I've already made some friends and potential partners via Twitter. Hope I can continue to use it as a great social tool.

      • You bet Bailey, glad it was helpful. Tweeting and commenting are all part of being social with mutual benefit for all.

  10. Very nice post and very informative and practical tips. Twitter has been put into many creative uses nowadays, but still most of the people do not get the desired results from Twitter. I think the most obvious reason is that they only tweet but do not analyze. Thanks again for this nice post, it will surely help improve Twitter Strategy.
    I recently wrote a blogpost on Microsoft's Twitter Strategy, I hope you will like it too:
    http://goo.gl/fb/2eXhz

  11. Paul Williams says:

    Great post.

    In my “spare” time, I manage Twitter profiles for a number of businesses and a couple of minor celebrities and I recognise much of what you.

    There is an important aspect if you are going to use Twitter as a marketing tool and it is often overlooked by many companies, even some of the big companies. That is your Twitter page background.

    I always strive to convince my clients to have a background that is relevant to their company – one of Twitter's standard backgrounds are of no use and the free background design programs always seem to have an ad to say where they have come from and, again, are usually not relevant to the company. I usually design the background for my clients because I get to know their companies.

    To show what's possible with a Twitter page background, I set up a Twitter account for my little girl (she's 17 months old) and anyone thinking of using a Twitter account can take a look at her profile just to get an idea. Her Twitter account is @oliviarita

    As a last thing, can I just plug something that I recently got involved in on Twitter through a client. It's basically a Twitter account that raises money for charity by tweeting ads/links and all money raised goes to a charity. Twiving adopts a new charity every month so it can help raise money for as many worthy causes as possible – please follow @twiving and if you see a link that interests you then please click it for charity. I designed the background but it's not one of my best – it was a design offered to them in a range and that was the one they liked but again it will give you an idea of what you can achieve.

  12. Paul Williams says:

    Great post.

    In my “spare” time, I manage Twitter profiles for a number of businesses and a couple of minor celebrities and I recognise much of what you.

    There is an important aspect if you are going to use Twitter as a marketing tool and it is often overlooked by many companies, even some of the big companies. That is your Twitter page background.

    I always strive to convince my clients to have a background that is relevant to their company – one of Twitter's standard backgrounds are of no use and the free background design programs always seem to have an ad to say where they have come from and, again, are usually not relevant to the company. I usually design the background for my clients because I get to know their companies.

    To show what's possible with a Twitter page background, I set up a Twitter account for my little girl (she's 17 months old) and anyone thinking of using a Twitter account can take a look at her profile just to get an idea. Her Twitter account is @oliviarita

  13. BeautyBind says:

    This is a great article. I run twitter accounts for several clients in the beauty industry and I am @BeautyBind. For clients I segment out the numbers, from the relevant numbers. i would rather have 5 important influencers than 50 random followers…although volume of followers does sometimes give credibility.

    • Sure. there's some social proof to having a quantity of followers. The ratio of following to followers is what many marketers look at. Following 5 people and having 100 followers is one thing. Following 5 people and having 1000 followers is another.

  14. LearningScout says:

    nice post..thanks..really help with Twitter…