While newer social networks such as Pinterest and Google Plus may be growing in popularity, marketing on Twitter is still an effective way for many organizations to reach their marketing objectives. In fact, 32% of all Internet users are on Twitter (source: MarketingLand), and 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter (source: Digital Buzz Blog).
With that in mind, here are 3 ways you can improve your Twitter marketing in 2013.
1. Interact and Engage with Your Audience
This may sound obvious, but it’s easy for marketers to fall into the trap of simply tweeting thought leadership content and promotions. Sharing content is helpful, to be sure, but the real value in using Twitter is the opportunity to develop relationships with your audience. So interact with people, reply to their tweets, ask questions, and start building new relationships.
Example: How Zappos Can Improve Their Efforts
For example, let's say you are Zappos and one of your goals for marketing on Twitter is increase sales by strengthening relationships with your current customers. You can setup an alert for whenever someone Tweets with a combination of the keywords "received", "Zappos", and "order". (SproutSocial is my personal favorite solution for monitoring conversations like this.) Then, you'll see when your customers Tweet about your orders, and be able to thank and acknowledge them. See tip 2 below for advice on keyword monitoring.
Monitor Customer Tweets
To demonstrate this, I did a quick search on Twitter for those exact keywords, and came up with a reasonable number of Tweets, from both happy and dissatisfied customers. This is an incredible opportunity for Zappos to build deeper relationships with their satisfied customers, and also handle complaints from unhappy customers.
Engage with Satisfied Customers
For the positive Tweets from happy customers, Zappos could reply with something simple like "We're thrilled you received the order. Let us know how you like the shoes", and add that customer to a list that they can engage with in the future. The more they acknowledge customers Tweeting about them, the more likely they those customers will be to Tweet about them in the future, as well. Make it easy for them to promote your brand.
Acknowledge Unhappy Customers (and Turn Them into Raving Fans)
As for the Tweets from unhappy customers, there is no better way to turn an unhappy customer into an evangelist than by acknowledging complaints publicly. Based on the activity in the Zappos Twitter accounts, I don't see them spending too much time on it, but at the least, they could allocate 1 hour a day replying to customer Tweets. Even without the hard data, I know the ROI for engaging with and acknowledging your customers for 1 hour a day is there, especially if you are solving complaints from customers that would otherwise use customer service resources, or never purchase from you again.
2. Monitor Conversations and Relevant Keywords
Monitoring keywords is a great (and easy!) way to find targeted people to follow, offer timely advice, and stay on top of industry trends. Get started by monitoring the following types of keywords, in order of priority:
Start by monitoring mentions of your company and brand, including @mentions and Tweets with your brand and product name(s). For example, Cisco would want to monitor mentions of the Cisco brand and Twitter handle, in addition to variations of individual products, such as "WebEx". I consider monitoring brand mentions critical, regardless of resources and priorities.
If you are a larger organization with an unmanageable amount of mentions, tools such as Salesforce/Radian6 can help you filter through the noise and focus your efforts on the most important Tweets.
Links to Your Site
Make sure to monitor when people tweet links to your website, even if they don't mention your brand name or Twitter handle—you can do this by simply setting up a search for the domain of your website. For example, at OMI, we monitor when people Tweet the keyword "onlinemarketinginstitute", because that is the domain of our website.
Monitor conversations directly related to the solution your problem solves—use the jargon they use to describe your need. For example, if you are an email marketing vendor, you can monitor when people Tweet with keywords such as "improve open rates" or "improve deliverability".
Related Businesses and Competitors
Expand your efforts by monitoring conversations related to complementary businesses and competitors. For example, at OMI, we monitor when people Tweet about Marketo and ExactTarget, because they are solutions that are target audience uses, and people we could potentially engage with.
You can also monitor people Tweet about your competitors, and follow them as well. This will provide great insight into your industry and business, and may even allow you to engage in a conversation when it is relevant (but not creepy).
Interests of Your Target Audience
Finally, once you're successfully monitoring the above keywords and need to grow your efforts, start monitoring conversations about your industry and topics your target audience is interested in. For example, an email marketing vendor could monitor conversations related to events that their audience would attend such as the Online Marketing Summit, or publications that their audience reads, such as the OMI blog or ClickZ. They could also monitor conversations about social media or digital marketing in general, because a marketer that would purchase an email solution would likely be interested in those topics, as well.
3. Grow Your Audience
Now that you're engaging with people and monitoring conversations, start to find new and interesting people to follow to increase your reach. Focus on building a community of potential customers, partners, influencers, and evangelists. Don't pay for followers or automate the process of growing your audience unless fake Twitter accounts actually buy your product or service (or know someone that will).
Find New People to Follow
To start growing your audience, find and target new and influential people to follow. You can find these users by 1) monitoring keywords and conversations 2) reviewing the followers of people and businesses in your industry and 3) reviewing lists that other related Twitter accounts have created. Don't worry about only following people that are potential customers—what you want to do is focusing on building a relevant Twitter community. This includes social media partners, related businesses, evangelists, influencers, and of course, your target audience. Even if many of these people may never buy your product or service, they can still help you amplify your message and achieve your marketing goals.
Add These Twitter Users to Lists
Once you start finding new people to follow, I recommend adding those accounts to a segmented list within your social media management tool. For instance, if you identify 20 key influencers or 20 potential customers and add them to a list, you can easily focus on consistently engaging with just those users over a certain period of time.
More Activity Leads to More Followers
As a general rule, the more you Tweet, the more followers you’ll have, the more you engage with the people you follow, the more likely they will be to follow you back. Effective Twitter marketing takes time—you can't automate it. And you won't achieve your goals by simply Tweeting once a day or once a week (in fact, inactivity can do more damage than good). But with a solid plan and effort, Twitter may prove to be on of your most effective marketing channels.
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