Twitter Marketing: What’s Your Strategy?

Twitter has been a hot debate topic among online marketers over the last year. Is it a total time suck, or a marketing tool you can't live without? Honestly, it depends on how you use it...

Everyone seems to use Twitter differently. The interesting thing is just how defensive people tend to get over their personal opinion of Twitter - be it the best way to use it, or their decision not to use it at all.

So what's the big deal - and how should you be using Twitter in your marketing strategy? Twitter happens to be the #1 traffic referrer to my blog, and has maintained that position consistently for well over a year. I'll share some tips with you that have proven to work very well for me, along with my thoughts on some of the more controversial topics regarding Twitter...

Follow / Following / Unfollow

This seems to be the topic of most debates, and one where people often adopt an opinion that ultimately only affects them or their personal Twitter experience.

These opinions include: unfollowing anyone that won't follow them back, or chooses to unfollow them at some point. Refusing to follow someone based on the number of people they are following (or not), etc.

Follow - Twitter is similar to your RSS or Feed Reader. Who you follow is basically who - or what information - you subscribe to. If you're using Twitter for marketing purposes then you want to follow the market leaders in your niche, and the news sources in your niche, as a means of staying up to date on current events and hot topics.

Who cares if they follow you back? Seriously. The point of following is to get the news and updates that you prefer. Period.

Twitter can be used in any number of ways, but for Twitter Marketing you should follow: market leaders, competitors, bloggers, speakers, authors, etc in your niche.

The cool thing about Twitter is that you can not only follow specific people, but you can also follow specific topics. I use TweetDeck which allows me to create groups (people I want to follow more closely) as well as searches - for topics/keywords I want to follow. You should follow keywords such as your name, brand, product name, main keyword, etc.

Part of my follow strategy also includes my Replies tab. This is where tweets arrive from people who have talked to me or talked about me - that have included "@lynnterry" in their tweet. This is actually where I spend the majority of my time with Twitter, because it allows me to engage in conversations - regardless of whether I am actually 'following' that person or not.

(To the people that complain or protest that I don't follow them, I always encourage them to test me - if they speak to me directly or tweet me a question, I respond. And that, in my opinion, is just as good as "following")

Here is a breakdown of how I use Twitter:

  • The main timeline is where I scan for news, updates & general content.
  • My group is a more focused timeline that I keep a closer eye on, to keep my finger on the pulse of specific people.
  • My search is where I do ongoing market research. I keep an eye here too for new people to follow or conversations to join.
  • My Replies tab is where my conversations & interactions are happening.

Following - For starters, I do not waste time checking out who is following me. In fact, I turned off email notifications because I found it pointless and distracting. Your focus should be on building a very specific following on Twitter, not on each individual person who is following you.

This may seem "harsh" but I consider it someone's personal choice to follow me. I don't actually engage with that person unless they choose to tweet me directly, or respond to one of my tweets.

You want to treat "building your following" like you treat "building your list". (You wouldn't go check out every single person that signed up for your newsletter, would you?) See the Twitter Marketing Strategy section below.

Unfollow - Some people will unfollow anyone that won't follow them, or who unfollows them. I've even seen people attempt to "bully" others by threatening to unfollow them. This is just plain silly in my opinion.

You should unfollow anyone you no longer want to follow. Simple as that. For me it might be a blogger or marketer that is consistently off topic and doesn't send out updates relevant to my 'feed'. It's not personal.

Some set up rules or criteria for their follow/following/unfollow strategy that, in my opinion, are too strict and only spite them - they certainly don't affect anyone else. Many people have said that they check out the bio for certain detail, make sure that person filled out a specific location, look at the follower/following ratio, etc.

It's not about "grading" a person on their ability to set up a profile to MY specs. It's about getting the news & updates that I want - period. There are certain people I want to follow, eavesdrop on, connect with, or receive updates from. In the end, the only real criteria should be what you want in your timeline... and what YOU need to accomplish YOUR (very specific) goal with Twitter.

Twitter Marketing Strategy

Please tell me you have one. If you don't have a specific goal or strategy, then Twitter will surely become a "total time suck" for you.

To be honest, it appears that most people join Twitter because "someone said they should" or because "it's the hottest thing in internet marketing right now" - but have ZERO strategy behind their investment.

The first step to creating your Twitter Marketing Strategy is to know your purpose. What do you hope to accomplish, or how do you intend to use Twitter in your overall marketing plan?

“Know how you want to be known, what you want to be known for, and who you want to know you.” Define your target market, and your offer, and creating a strong message-to-market match.

Step One is to fill in the blanks: I am known for ___ . I am the expert on ___ . People follow me for ___ . If you can't answer these questions, stop everything you're doing and work on that first.

Now that you know who you are and what people expect from you, go back and analyze your Twitter activity. Do your tweets reflect your goals, consistently address your topic, and attract your ideal follower?

Get in the mindset of your follower. Why did they follow you? If it's not to receive updates about the topic of your product, website or blog... then you are not attracting your target market. If they did follow you specifically for those updates, and you don't deliver, then you are letting them down.

Building a following on Twitter should be viewed much the same as building an email list. You definitely want to consider quality over quantity, in both cases. The more focused your topic & readership, the more productive you can be - and the higher your click-through and conversion rates will be.

Marketing is not spam. Sharing resources and links is not spam. Think about it for a moment. If you follow Michel Fortin, you are probably expecting tweets about Copywriting and Sales Copy. If you follow John Reese, you are probably expecting tweets about Internet Marketing and Traffic Secrets. Why are people following you, and do you deliver?

Stop here, open this link in a new window, and read this:
Apology Marketing (is stupid!)

Now that we're all on the same page, let's move on to actually using Twitter...

Your goal should be to tweet useful updates that are of specific interest to your followers. Twitter is a place where you can be more personable, and even more personal, but you want to maintain your professional character and your integrity at all times.

A good exercise is to take a moment when you sit down at your desk, and ask: Why do they follow me? This is a good question to start with before you email your list, or write a new post for your blog as well. Get in the mind of your ideal reader (ie follower) and connect with their expectations.

Then... deliver.

There is also more to Twitter than just tweeting links and using it to get traffic. As I mentioned earlier, I have a very specific 'follow strategy' and this allows me to:

  • Mine Twitter for content & useful links. My timeline is a goldmine of resources that I can share with my readers, on my blog and in my newsletter as well as on Twitter.
  • Evaluate a potential JV Partner or VA for integrity, consistency, etc. Twitter is a great way to get a 'feel' for a person you may want to work with.
  • Stay up to date on change or news in my industry. Twitter is where you hear it first!
  • Keep my ear to the ground for conversations about me, about my products or about my websites. It's a great way to get unsolicited feedback, learn points you can improve on, and understand your market better.
  • Listen to the conversations for potential blog topics. What is my market interested in at the moment, what questions are they asking, what topics engage them?

Twitter is an amazing market research tool, as well as marketing tool.

ENGAGE your followers

In addition to filtering news, information and conversations in your niche, and providing useful updates about your topic or product/service, Twitter is a great way to engage your target market in productive conversations.

Here are just a few ideas that I've seen work incredibly well:

Host a contest on Twitter. For examples, search "twitter contest" at Google.

Encourage your followers to 'tweet you' questions, favorite links/resources, tips or personal experiences about your topic. If you have a blog, this is a great way to craft new and interesting posts. Compile the tips and share them in a post. Or compile the questions into a topical FAQ, and answer each question in detail. Once published, thank your followers and give them the link to check out the results.

Use Twitter to really engage your target market in conversation about your topic. What do they need, what do they love, what really frustrates them? Ask! They'll appreciate your genuine interest, and you'll gain incredibly valuable feedback that will help you better serve them.

Best,

Enjoy this post? Follow me on Twitter @lynnterry and sign up for my free weekly newsletter: Learn Internet Marketing. Want to share this post with your friends? Send this tweet:

Reading: Twitter Marketing: What's Your Strategy? http://www.clicknewz.com/1953/ by @lynnterry

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About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. I love what you said about who cares is they follow back or not.... exactly, I totally agree. I don't care who follows me and who doesn't.

    Hmmm... now you've got me thinking. Why do they follow me? Heck if I know!

    • If you're using Twitter for online marketing, that's your best first step: to determine WHY they should follow you, so you build a focused following.

      Some people just use Twitter to follow - to get news & udpates, or to keep up with friends or topics, and that's okay too. I have a friend that gets updates from his union (through Twitter, to his cell phone) for example.

      But for marketing purposes, you absolutely must define what it is that makes you follow-worthy ;)

  2. Allan G wrote an intelligent, thoughtful article on twitter. Why would we expect any less of him.

    I totally see his points. He's been there, done that. Just not through the medium we call twitter.

    For me, twitter followed the regular trajectory it does for most: signed up because people said to, found it a waste of time, left; kept hearing about it, came back, and now slowly getting addicted.

    You can decide if the addiction is a good thing.

    One thing that helped me out is reading a PDF Dr. Mani created about how he uses Twitter. I don't follow it to a T, but I think it's a great twitter strategy.

    For me, I will freely admit twitter is being used much less for business and much more for socializing with like-minded people. I do it to blow off steam. My ROI is psyhic pleasure and release.

    I honestly don't care if I monetize my time on twitter. One day I may. Or maybe I won't. And I'm totally cool with it.

    But if I were to use it solely as a business tool, I think Dr. Mani's Twitter Tips are the way to go.

    Regards,
    Dan Ho

  3. Patsy Stewart says:

    Lynn, this is great info. I totally agree you need to have a strategy to have any success in marketing with twitter as well as any other social networking site. Thanks for the great content!!

  4. Reverse Phone Directory says:

    Very nice theory based rundown of twitter following and marketing considerations.

  5. Terry,

    As always... deep thoughts (and solid). I wonder if the strategy for those newer to the twitter and social media will change as confidence/skill you speak of improves. "Apology Marketing" is a great concept label and identifies it perfectly. Can't wait to read your book about it. (In the restaurant business someone will regularly say "Hey, we have great food! Come try us!" :) Tweetdeck and setting up groups is the way to go. Will give it a shout out. Thanks!

  6. I like what you've said here. I'm always a little unsure who I should follow back, or when I should unfollow... but why should I be? This is my account and I should follow who I want, and not feel like I should follow just because they followed me.

    I actually had someone "call me out" on twitter because I had unfollowed them. Funny thing is I didn't even remember doing so. It greatly offended me that they'd do such a thing, and it kinda creaped me out, too.

    Mind you, this is with my personal account. I've yet to really use twitter or facebook for business.

    Nell

    • It's amazing how defensive and downright rude people can be about such things. I've had the same experience, Nell. It really blows my mind...

      If people were half as interested in being follow-worthy, as they are obsessed about their numbers and the "who did what"... Twitter would become an absolute goldmine!

      I got your email, by the way. I've been in and out the last couple of days but just read it last night - I'll get back to you there ;)

  7. Excellent article Lynn. It made me think of all the wrong reasons I've used twitter. Your article set my head straight!

    Thank you,
    Linda Ferguson

  8. Monna Ellithorpe says:

    Lynn, Again more great tips and suggestions. I have still yet to learn to be able to use Twitter to any benefit, but I will be changing things now with a plan. I had a plan in the beginning but it definitely got out of hand.

    Thanks again. Monna Ellithorpe

  9. Bravissimo, Lynn!

    I've come to the conclusion through my own personal observations that marketers are either Twitter "fans" or Twitter "critics" and there's no in between.

    I'd like to extend a gigantic 'thank you' for all the exemplary tips and viewpoints you've shared here. In particular, you've helped me to realize that I've got to put on my thinking cap ... and fast!

    My Twitter marketing strategy needs a vital and immediate tune up. :-)
    With all the advice you've provided, I'm going to create a strategy that's oiled, lubed, waxed, and polished!

  10. Mike Hays says:

    Lynn,
    As usual very well put! There are so many strategies to twitter but one factor that is common with all good Twitter marketing strategies, and you mentioned it too, KNOW YOUR PURPOSE. I have seen successful strategies where people autofollow everyone and they use browser tools to filter out the "BS". And I have seen several people who only follow a select few. The nice thing about Twitter is their is no right or wrong way. Unless your spamming or do not have good intentions. Thanks for the post and again you have hit a nerve for many and made some very good points.
    Take Care and Happy Twittering,
    Mike

  11. Great article, Lynn! I'm bookmarking this one so I can refer back to it. You have included so many useful tips here.

    THANK YOU!

  12. Hey you! You've posted such wonderful comments on my blog vent today, I thought I'd swing by here, too.

    I use Twitter in a few different ways.

    1. To connect with potential affiliate and JV partners.
    2. To find guests for my podcast.
    3. Traffic.

    But, the biggest benefit that I've gotten from Twitter is that it's enabled me to get on the radar of some people who I'd admired from afar (you, included).

    Because of Twitter I got to know you better and spend 4 awesome days with you, which was one of the highlights of this year for me.

    Because of Twitter, you got 2 signups for the NAMS conference through your affiliate link. ;) Can't wait to connect there! I hadn't heard anything about it until I saw you mention it on Twitter.

    Because of Twitter, I have several fantastic testimonials. (Whenever someone says something nice about me on Twitter, I ask if I may use that blurb on my NicoleDean.com site.)

    Because of Twitter, others SEE me interacting with cool people like you, and therefore, I get more "street cred".

    I've recently started usint Bit.ly to see which of my Tweets entice the most click-throughs so that I can see what people want more of from me. So, because of Twitter, I've been given amazing insight into my market.

    Like Twitter? Yes, I do.

  13. Excellent points, Nicole!

    I find Twitter to be invaluable - not only as one of my top traffic referrers (consistently!) but also because of the networking and market research. It has definitely become a regular part of routine.

  14. Art Shred says:

    Well, to be honest, in my country twitter is not very popular right now so I can`t really use it for my marketing purposes. But your words are fully noted. I`ll bear them in mind when it will be time to deal with twitter)

  15. In my country twitter isn't popular also, some big companies use it and job posting web sites boards too, but most of my friends just never use it so it's boring for me..

  16. Tina Williams says:

    Lynn-

    Your concept about having a plan or a strategy is completely correct. Creating a plan is something that should not only be used on Twitter but in all aspects of your business model. Sometimes it is easier said than done but it is essential to achieving success. That is advice I have seen you give us on many occasions!

    Twitter has become an invaluable resource for me on many levels. The connections I have made to awesome people (like you) that have become mentors, clients, buyers and some that have even become close friends in incredible. Twitter is a powerful learning tool for me too. It is a place I do a lot of market research just by asking questions and watching what people talk about.

    My strategy on Twitter is different than maybe some others and fits what you described. The difference is that I have developed Twitter Communities. This started out by accident but once I saw how well it worked it sort of snow balled. My two main personal accounts do very different things. One is a catch all and mainly I connect on a marketing and business level. My second main account is Mom niched and I mainly connect and talk about mom stuff and women in biz stuff.

    Working as an offline consultant over the last six months I have been asked to maintain Twitter accounts for many businesses. In each account I have very specific goals, build the community very niched to that business and deliver very targeted messages within that account. Seeing how well that worked I started a few niche twitter accounts in different markets of my own. Next thing I knew I had numerous targeted accounts in multiple niches with close to 100K followers and we all talk to each other and retweet for each other, etc. People who have taken the workshops I do join in too and benefits by the power of retweets amongst the Community.

    Lynn, your strategy is so dead on correct! One of my financial Twitter accounts wrote business with a follower because he liked the quotes she sends out every morning and the business links! (that person had been in my clients database 3 years yet never had written business with that company!) The strategy at work!

    With the power of retweets and the ability of creating a viral effect really changes when you have a Community developed and you follow your "message to market" strategy when sharing information.

    A year ago I never thought "tweeting" would be part of my business strategy! Go figure. Thanks so much for your insight on Twitter Marketing Strategies--how you like the Twitter Guide!

    @Tina_Williams
    @newoldmom

  17. i use twitter to drive traffic back to my site. my wife is hooked on it!

  18. The most important tip of this post Lynn is using TweetDeck.

    It took me over 8 months to start using it, but thanks to @DaivRawks knocking me upside the head, I finally got started and I would never recommend using the main Twitter site again.

    The biggest hangups people typically have with Twitter (especially when they start or they follow a lot of people) is how to make sense of all the noise.

    TweetDeck gives you permission to ignore 99% of what's on Twitter, based on your preferences of what you want to pay attention to.

    Since you can do permanent (or temporary) searches, you can really focus on just the main things; and arrange your panels (columns) in such a way to prioritize what to focus on.

    It's a huge time saver, incredible market research device, and an efficient way to keep track of the people you want to connect with on a regular basis.

    Bob

  19. Lynn,
    When I first started using Twitter I was just consumed with getting more followers that were in my area of interest. Since I started developing a couple of communities at Cagora and created very targeted Twitter accounts for those communities, I have totally changed my thinking on my first account and agree more with your strategy.

    By the way, Twitter has become a lot more fun in my "niche" accounts instead of just the Internet Marketing crowd.

    Chris

  20. Jacques Lemans says:

    As usual very well put! There are so many strategies to twitter but one factor that is common with all good Twitter marketing strategies, and you mentioned it too, KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

  21. Interesting comments here, well done guys.

    Could we have this intelligent of a conversation about Twitter...

    ...on Twitter?

    137!

  22. Your analysis is helpful! Twitter is such a new way of thinking. It's so right for the way we think and work too-everything fast and quick, if we like it we read more, if not we peruse on.

    I think it's definatley time to use twitter if you dont, and i think you've set up some good guidelines. I was researching statistics on twitter and came across some interesting statistics, i thought i'd share them with you. They come from nielsen findings.

    From April 2008 to April 2009 twitter grew by 1382%

    In February the largest age group on Twitter was 35-49; with nearly 3 million unique visitors, comprising almost 42 percent of the site’s audience.

    62 percent of the audience access the site from work only.

  23. Roberto Lebron says:

    This is the best article I've read on Twitter.

    Finally, after reading through megabytes of oblique and obscure drivel, a clear, focused and practical how-to, with plenty of useful follow-up comments. What a great thing you have going here! When I read "What's your strategy?" I had to admit "None." Now I know what to do. I've just downloaded Tweet Deck and I will start chapter two of my relationship with Twitter.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  24. The Gooroo says:

    Personally, my strategy is to not Tweet to often. There are millions of people out there using Twitter for marketing purposes, and most of them come off as very "spammy". I try to be more unique by only Tweeting once in a while. It seems to work.

  25. Thanks Lynn,great post and it is valuable to me to see how others are using Twitter as a strategy in internet marketing. I never really thought of it as a research tool, just a marketing tool. Bravo.

  26. Many webmasters find Twitter as a very useful tool in internet marketing. Your idea of using twitter as a research tool is great! I agree with you, it's a very effective way to improve your products and other stuffs.

  27. Fantastic Article Lynn!

    I have been told these things about what you want to be know for before, yet when I read this post I wrote down the sentences with blanks and plan to fill them in today.

    I am a jack of all trades so focusing on being the expert in one area has been my greatest difficulty. The template you have provided is a nice visual for me to really think strategically about it and fill in the blanks and then be tweetworthy and consistent in my tweets.

    I love your writing style and way of explaining things in a way that is easy to understand and take action on.

    Clay

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  1. 6 Ways to Stand Out From Social Media Noise | The University Kid says:

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  2. [...] yet on board with Twitter, or still confused about how to best use it in your marketing plan, see: Twitter Marketing and specifically the Twitter Marketing Strategy section.  Subscribe to [...]

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