Social media is much, much more than a medium for selfies, satirical takes on life and inspirational quotes. Business owners, startup founders and entrepreneurs scarce on time know that its upending traditional business marketing for the better. And the one social network that stands head and shoulders above for the rest for marketing is Twitter.
Way back in March 2006, New York University undergraduate and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey envisioned Twitter as a simple SMS-based communications platform. Launching just 4 months later the social network has gone from strength to strength over the last 13 years.
By its very essence, Twitter is a business owners best marketing tool. With its much-lauded 140 character limit, the microblogging platform demands marketing messages on it are conveyed concisely and are engaging to boot to ensure maximum impact.
Then there’s the double whammy of its advertising (sorry ‘Promoted Tweets’) structure which cuts through the noise of a business owners competitors. With promoted content, an advertiser pays the platform to place their messages directly in front of their existing followers - and those that have shown Twitter their vested interests are similar to what marketers are extolling.
Twitter actively prohibits bulk tweeting to stop an avalanche of spam and to this effect, it’s one of the very few social media channels that aren’t muddied by the practice. Twitters anti-spam rules simply won’t allow marketers to tweet similar messages to multi accounts in one go. This means Twitter remains a clear, concise social soapbox for business owners - and one on which their marketing can be heard with clarity.
Oxford Dictionaries defines communication as:
‘The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.’
So as an integral part of marketing, communication is an exchange. Traditional marketing - in the likes of mail order or print ads - has never been able to fully gauge the extent of engagement or views of target consumers.
With its own engagement tools, Twitter however does.
Tools of the Trade
The email mainstay ‘@‘ is used in abundance on Twitter. When tagged in a tweet, a business owner knows that their brand has been mentioned - and opens up all manners of sentiment, perception, and feedback on that very same brand.
The hashtag ‘#’ is used to signify keywords concerning a subject and thus brings together an online Twitter audience that is emotionally connected to a topic, brand or business offering.
In comparison when it comes to Google most business owners will say they’re primarily concerned with SEO and getting to the top of first-page search results. In turn, the simple hashtag is the vehicle to reach the top of search results on Twitter. This is exactly why they should be used in every tweet. Anything less would be like sending a message in a bottle - without the message.
The like function indicates that online audiences approve of the content in a marketing tweet. While it may be the less engaging of the pack, it does show that the end user and of course prospective customer approve of what a business is offering.
Retweeting on the platform is the de facto way to show support for a brand. Whether its sharing or reposting a marketing tweet sent out by a business, it’s deemed by a user as worthy of sharing within their own circle. Sort of like the 21st-century word of mouth recommendation.
Of course, those little smiley face emoticons deserve a notable mention as they’re universally accepted as a positive to the marketing tweets that Twitter users are presented with.
Much like the hashtag has transcended the network to other social channels, it, along with other Twitter tools are now a way of life. The smart business owner knows that these engagement tools let them understand their consumers which lets their Twitter marketing campaigns be measured, pivoted and pursued correctly in real time. There’s no costly, consumer perception census’ required when almost instantly the jury’s in on marketing when using Twitter.
David vs Goliath
While Twitter has many benefits for the business owner, its main values lie in time and resources.
For example, many startup founders don’t have the marketing clout of Apple or IBM. So it’s catch 22 for the earnest business owner that wants to compete with much larger companies. Those same big hitters already have barriers in place by way of their marketing resources to keep the smaller fish out the stream so to speak.
Enter Twitter. As a platform its not wholly geared for monetization. Therefore it is not largely pinned down the way Facebook is in terms of promoting those with the biggest marketing budgets the farthest. This way said startup founders and business owners are given practically the same number of tools and marketing opportunities that their larger competitors have.
A Bird that makes a Sweet Tune
With technology propelling ‘Generation Me’ to shift focus from company to consumer, today’s customers don’t expect to be in direct contact with companies they endorse and shop with. They demand it.
Not so long ago a customer helpline would be the only direct route between customer and company. Rather than committing the time and resources that they most likely won’t have, business owners have turned to Twitter to open dialogue with audiences before, during and even after a purchase or brand advocacy is made. With the network affording such transparent dialogue from handling inquiries, complaints, and conversation, this makes Twitter a truly unique marketing channel.
Similarly, direct messages can also be used to relay private conversations with customers when dealing with sensitive information such as return postal pickups etc. It’s win-win whatever way a business looks at it.
Middle Men mean Nothing
The digital age has had an effect on the marketing press release the same way asteroids had on dinosaurs.
Press releases used to be the medium for business owners to divulge product launches, promotions or events. More often than not it was hit or miss whether a reporter or journalist chose - or had the column inches - to announce a business’ latest marketing efforts to the masses.
The decision on whether a marketing content is newsworthy should only be chosen by who it is aimed at - and that’s exactly what Twitter facilitates by giving the business owner an instant two-way channel to convey those marketing efforts on.
Firstly a savvy startup and business owner always keeps an eye on the budget. Then customer acquisition is the next port of call - and that always comes at a cost. Instead of being stuck in the limbo of being budget wise but not having the money to get clients, Twitter is a must have a marketing tool to make the latter happen. Unlike other social networks like LinkedIn that paywall the best features for prospecting, Twitter accounts are free to set up and operate.
There’s no need to search High and Low
As mentioned promoted tweets can be used to target marketing at those with similar interests - making it easy to find, follow and build networks of existing and prospective customers.
Promotional tweets are great but they cost money. Tweeting to already converted brand advocates and existing customers may also seem a bit intrusive. So the next route is to find potential through the platforms advanced search function. By simply searching for ‘health supplements’ in it customers can be found that are actively seeking such products. And the best part is they are warm leads from prospects just waiting to find better products.
Tweet Often and Open
Despite Twitter reducing traditional marketing ROI times and its tools being largely free, it’s easy for business owners to not view the network as a marketing priority. Yet most entrepreneurs will highlight that time is their most valuable commodity so it makes sense to keep at it.
Straight out of the Glengarry Glen Ross playbook it’s advised to tweet open questions to foster audience engagement. Subsequently marrying the latest news into a marketing effort will ensure that content stays up to date - because online content that stays fresh stays shared.
From Tweet to Traffic
There’s an army of audiences just waiting to become brand advocates online. By its nature, the platform isn’t enabled for e-commerce so a business owner can easily use Twitter to direct traffic straight to websites, blogs and online points of sale. From new contacts to shopping carts as long as links are placed on Twitter this gets customers one step closer to click-throughs.
Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Marketing
Irrespective of a business owners location, there are specific times of the day and even week that Twitters users will engage more with marketing posts.
As with the traditional billboard marketing, it’s vital for today’s entrepreneurs to make sure their messages are viewed at a time and place that gets the most traffic. Due to the reason of online audiences not being at work, it’s been noted that engagement with tweets increase at the weekends - and between the midday to 3 pm lunchtime slot during the week.
As with all businesses, their respective audiences are different so the crux is to find out when what the optimum time to tweet at is.
A Picture is worth a Thousand Words (or a few 140 characters)
When marketing product launches and promotions adding high res images to a tweet makes perfect sense. But it doesn’t stop there because most, if not all tweets, should be accompanied by a picture.
Adding images to tweets supercharges any marketing effort with close to 90% more likes attributed to them. Ideally, for all those without stock photos or missing a certain artistic flair, images can always be sourced copyright free at unsplash.com and used commercially.
Marketing under the Influence
The age of the online influencer is upon us and social media networks - not limited to Twitter - are bringing their users closer together. Twitter itself can be used to make the most out of this phenomenon.
Starting with Twitter’s advanced search, a business owner can find apt influencers that have clout in their given sector and ensure they are in tune with what their company wants to convey to its end users. Many influencers own endorsement of a brand comes at a premium but most will engage with a brand if it’s something they are interested in - with the sentiment having a domino effect into their own followers - and thus opening up a whole new segment to market to.
This roundup shows exactly what a powerful marketing tool Twitter can be for business owners both large and small, as long as it’s used correctly.
The social network shows no sign of slowing with more people and more potential customers signing up each and every day.
Unlike any other online medium, by tapping into Twitter business owners can find out what matters most to their target demographics, what makes them tick and ultimately what their next move is.