5 marketing tips for tackling Twitter

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Social media has added many new marketing channels to our toolbox: blogs, forums, user-generated videos, social networking sites and so on. But none of them is as odd as Twitter.

Think of Twitter as something between microblogging and sending public instant messages. People post very short messages (a limit of 140 characters) called "tweets" about what they're doing or what they're thinking, and other people follow their every word. As with blogs, individuals are using Twitter to stay in touch with friends, to rant, to ponder, to experiment, to brag and (from many tweets I've read) to avoid boredom.

Why does this matter to marketers? Because Twitter is becoming an increasingly important platform for online communication and conversation. Numbers are hard to come by, but TechCrunch reports that Twitter has more than 1 million users (200,000 of which are active every week), and about 3 million messages are posted every day. These are still relatively small numbers, but the activity comes from an early-adopter segment that can be hard to reach using traditional marketing channels.

Where there's an emerging communications channel, there are always marketers fearlessly jumping in, and the same is true of Twitter. Who's doing it well? How can you use Twitter for marketing your products or services? What are effective ways of engaging in this emerging dialogue without turning people off?

Here are five core ways to dive in.



Steve Dodd
Steve Dodd October 14, 2008 at 11:03 AM

Steve, this is a terrific outline about how to work with Twitter! More and more of our customers (Sysomos) are asking for Twitter analytics, especially when combined with other forms of Social Media. I will be using this outline as part of our customer discussions.
Specifically, there are many great examples of B-B marketing in this domain and it is growing quickly.

Rebecca Blackwell
Rebecca Blackwell October 5, 2008 at 12:25 PM

I appreciate the way you've broken this down, and want to point out that the same factors apply to marketing in small businesses.

Twitter has, in many ways, evened the playing field for both large and small businesses. Large businesses can act small (connecting with customers, projecting a personality, reacting quickly, etc.) and small businesses can act large (reaching large numbers of people quickly, driving customer opinion, generating buzz, etc.).

rickey gold
rickey gold September 25, 2008 at 1:23 PM

Thanks, Steve, for a great article that I plan to share with my clients who don't quite "get" twitter yet. I know they need to be there (b-b as well as b-c) especially after speaking to someone at an event last night who told me how much the word on her company's biz has spread since they've been twittering.

Fred Jorgensen
Fred Jorgensen September 11, 2008 at 1:15 PM

Well organized post and great synthesis of Twitter's role in a marketing context.

Re: Melinda's B2B question, consider following @crosbymarketing to see how we're using it to dimensionalize our agency and add value to customers, prospects and employees.

Steve Mulder
Steve Mulder September 10, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Melinda is right that most Twitter experimentation is on the B-to-C side. I'm not aware of B-to-B Twitter successes yet, though I encourage people to share any they've seen. But like all elements of social media (blogs, wikis, ratings/reviews, etc.), B-to-B usage eventually follows B-to-C successes. After all, every business user is also a consumer in other areas of their life. They all experience firsthand the value of blogs, user reviews, Twitter, and so on, and start looking for them and expecting them in their B-to-B interactions as well.

Melinda Snow Welsh
Melinda Snow Welsh September 10, 2008 at 9:05 AM

Thank you for such a great article for newbies to Twitter. This was really helpful and I'm going to start some experimenting. Quesion for you...most of the examples you cited are for B-to-C. Are you seeing success in Twitter for B-to-B (non-technical companies)?