How to use Twitter as a marketing instrument

Twitter is confusing. It is getting an enormous amount of buzz in online and offline media, but many marketers have no idea how Twitter can help them in their online marketing efforts. In this article I will try to explain how you can successfully use twitter in your marketing efforts.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a service that allows to to post short messages on the internet, visible for anyone interested. Facebook users can compare it to their Facebook status updates on steroids.

What is so special about Twitter?

  • Status updates can not only be made from an internet browser, but also via SMS (mobile phone text-messages), iPhones and other connected devices.
  • To make Twitter work seamlessly with mobile phones, the length of the messages is limited to a 140 characters. This ensures to-the-point communication.
  • Anyone can read your status updates, group-sms messages never really took off, but now Twitter is doing something similar in a nice web interface the advantages of pushing messages out to a large number of followers are becoming very obvious.

How can Twitter support your online marketing efforts?

Due to the popularity of Twitter and the large amount of messages being posted every second, it is very difficult to make your message stand out on Twitter. Because of this it is accepted to re-tweet some of your messages (do not do this too frequently, because it will put some followers off!).

It is much better to instead try to communicate directly with your followers. You can direct messages to one or more followers by adding their Twitter username with an ‘at’ sign in your message like this: @channelsales

Twitter search is becoming more and more important. Twitter search is a great way to filter out all the fluff and only get messages on the subjects you are interested in. This is where the real value for (oneline) marketers comes in. If you for example search on “channel sales” on Twitter you will find all messages relating to this query.

If you have not set up a bookmark to the Twitter search page with the results for your brand name, do it now! It is even better to subcribe to the RSS feed for this search so you can receive updates on your brand on Twitter in real time.

If anyone writes about your brand, take the time to reply. Not only when it is a positive message (thanks for your support, tell your friends!), but also when the message is less positive (I’m sorry you are having difficulties with … What’s your account name, I’ll check what’s going wrong.) By getting the account name you can contact the customer off-line to prevent too much negativity in public. When the issue has been resolved, you should of course twitter this to the customer!

How to get followers on Twitter?

Twitter is no fun when you are alone. Populating your follow list (and thereby getting more followers yourself) should be a top priority. First your can find contacts from your address book(s) who are already using Twitter. Then start following some of the big names in your field and then search for people who have discussed your product or service or that of your direct competitors. Finally you can search for certain keywords that relate to your product or service and add the people who are talking about this.

Note that you will have to be careful not to add too many people to your follow list at once or your account will be disabled by the Twitter admins. Generally you are safe if you do not add more than 75 Twitter accounts to your follow list per day.

If you find that a user is not following your updates and that their messages are not interesting enough, do not hesitate to stop following them!

Any other tips?

There are many sources of information on effective use of Twitter. These are the most important points to take into account:

  • Upload a photo to appear in your profile. You can also upload a company logo, but since Twitter is all about personal communication it is better to have a friendly face than a logo (unless your logo is as well known as Nike or Coca Cola of course!)
  • Add a link to your company website or blog in your profile. Before adding you to their ‘follow’ list, many users want to find out more about you and clicking through to your website is a great way of doing this.
  • You can ‘tag’ an update using the # sign in your message to categorize your message. Twitter users can create a specific stream for the tag prm and using the # sign ensures that your message will be properly categorized. Eg: Forrester reports that #prm systems are the next big thing in channel sales.
  • Do not only post notifications of new blog posts. This is what RSS is meant for and only strutting your stuff in your Twitter stream will turn potential followers away.
  • Do not post messages too frequently. The power of Twitter is that messages are meant to be to-the-point. Don’t spam your followers with too much information.
  • Messages should not exceed 140 characters. In the beginning it is very difficult to limit yourself to 140 characters, but soon you will get the hang of it. Never, ever split up your messages in more that one tweet as that is considered spamming.

Let me know how you get on with Twitter, and dont forget to follow the Channel Sales blog on Twitter!

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6 Comments on “How to use Twitter as a marketing instrument”

  1. Melinda Says:

    Twitter can definitely be very confusing when you first start using it. But don’t worry, it’s not just you! Even one of the Twitter co-founders thinks so:

    Williams also said that the company is working on ways to make Twitter easier for newbies to get into. “It’s amazing anyone uses Twitter today,” he said. “It’s hard.”


  2. Thanks for sharing that with us Melinda, at first I was a bit worried about my bold opening line for this post, but now I seeI hit the nail on the head!

  3. Carri Bugbee Says:

    I never found Twitter confusing, but I know that some do because I’m often explaining processes and protocols to newbies.

    I currently manage a dozen twitter profiles with thousands of followers, so I can say with some reliability that you’re safe to follow as many people a day as you want until you reach the Twitter “ceiling,” which is 2,000. After that, you can only follow 10 percent more people than follow you.

    How frequently you tweet depends upon your network. If you have a bunch of Tweeple in your network, you can tweet all day long and nobody will care. They might actually like it! But you shouldn’t post too many tweets in rapid succession (unless you’re live-tweeting an event). That will fill up the Twitterstream for your followers that aren’t following that many people, and they may find that obnoxious.

    If you really want to build your network, I suggest tweeting at all different times of the day. Most people just tune into Twitter occasionally, so if they only tune in at night and you only tweet in the morning, they’ll never see you. Spread your tweets around!

    Like all social media, it’s smart to “listen” to understand the protocol. Follow some Twitter “rock stars” and see what they do. Retweet them when they say interesting things and respond to them (@ them) occasionally if you have a question or want to give them props.

    But watch out, Twitter is addictive! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Carri Bugbee

  4. Thanks for the excellent tips Carri! I have added you to my follow list on Twitter ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Jim Hammons Says:

    Great piece, This will help a lot of people who are newbies to twitter. basic and to the point!

  6. Shawn Willis Says:

    Hey that was a really nice article for getting started on Twitters. It surely is creating quite a buzz on the net. Not a bad idea to carry your business on Twitter. Thanks for sharing!

    Shawn Willis
    Walkers Research

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