Twitter marketing is in the midst of seven subtle but significant changes.
It’s unclear exactly what’s driving the changes—perhaps so many B2B brands are on social media now that practices that worked before aren’t working now—but it’s clear they are happening.
It’s also clear that most brands haven’t adjusted their Twitter marketing, and their social marketing results are suffering.
Read on to learn about these seven changes, and how brands can adapt their Twitter marketing to achieve success.
- Quality of network trumps size of network
Why is this even debated anymore? True, there are advantages to having a lot of connections on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter—but not at the expense of quality.
Most brands, however, place a priority on network growth, and thus sacrifice quality (because to grow their network they follow, or connect, to a bunch of accounts that have nothing to do with their brand or marketing goals). It’s easier to build a large network than a smaller, quality network, but the latter is the foundation for better engagement, integrating social into your lead generation and sales process, and overall social marketing success.
What brands should do:
Don’t blindly grow your social networks or pay for services that buy you connections. It’s not about width, it’s about depth. Think of your network like you do your email list—it doesn’t matter how many people are on it. What matters is how many open it! This brings me to number two:
- Targeted following overtakes mass following
Targeted following not only sets you up for better engagement, but it’s also the precursor to integrating your social marketing with the sales process. Have a reason to follow and connect with people on social. If you do so, then your social network size becomes a more useful metric. On Twitter I recommend following people/accounts that are active and:
- Engaging with topics similar to what your brand is building its thought leadership around
- Participating in industry events or Twitter chats relevant to your brand
- Newly engaging with your competitors (but not you)
- Recently followed your competitors (and who your competitors recently followed)
- Engaging with organizations / associations whose membership matches your target buyer demographic (e.g., SHRM).
The last three are a great way to find sales prospects, and are the precursor for integrating your Twitter social marketing into your sales process (#7 on this list).
What brands should do:
Don’t get hung up on quotas. It’s all about relevance. Some days you may only follow a few accounts and other day’s maybe 10, 20 or 30. That’s fine.
- Twitter marketing isn’t only about influencers
Many companies new to social marketing are fixated with identifying and engaging with “influencers.” Some companies focus their entire social marketing efforts around engaging with influencers. No wonder they get frustrated and question the ROI of social when results don’t meet their expectations.
Companies no longer need much help finding influencers. Creating a list of industry influencers is easy, which means everyone’s got the same list. As a result, for most brands, influencer lists have both little usefulness and little applicability to day-to-day social marketing.
After all, the days of simply mentioning or retweeting a top industry influencer to get some sort of free publicity are long gone. Influencer marketing isn’t just a subset of social marketing. You need to actually talk with influencers, meet them at conferences, get to know them—and the people doing this need to be senior people in your organization.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid engaging with influencers on social. You should absolutely like and favorite their social updates, share their content, mention them and comment on their posts because they will likely remember your brand and it can help down the line. But understand that not only are you not entitled to a response, but that you may not get one. But don’t get discouraged. You see, social marketing is not just a mix of trying to reach top influencers and blindly broadcasting to your entire social network. What most brands don’t realize is that in social marketing, anyone with a social profile is an influencer. Or, as Gary Vaynerchuk (influencer and bestselling author of books including “#ASKGARYVEE”) says:
“I define an influencer as anybody with a public social profile. If you have forty-two people following you, then you are influencing them with your content. You may not be the influencer BMW needs to impact its sales goals that day, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are influencing someone. I have long been fan of chasing the long-tail end of the graph by using tons of smaller influencers….. Everybody is an influencer.”
What brands should do:
Never miss an opportunity to engage with your network—regardless of how many followers a person or brand has. Don’t be discriminatory. Have conversations, thank and recognize people in your network. Be social!
- Your content trumps other people’s content in your social sharing
A content marketing expert once told me to follow the 80/20 rule in social content curation: share eight articles from other people for every two of my own. This rationale is based on the outdated belief that the size of your social network is the most important metric; the main purpose of curating so much content was to gain followers.
This heavy curation led to the birth of a cottage industry of social automation tools that would find and share content on your behalf all day long. The resulting noise has nearly destroyed Twitter, driven many people away from social and turned many brands into impersonal social robots.
Let’s be clear. You don’t need software to find content. Content is everywhere. But most of it’s bad enough that you don’t want your brand associated with it. Besides, why use your social marketing to drive traffic to other people’s websites?
What’s important now is associating your business with great content. And I firmly believe the majority of great (non-promotional) long-form content you share should be your own. This, of course, means that creating high-quality content is an absolute must.
- Conversation, not automation
Marketers are inundated with messages about the benefits of marketing automation (mostly by the firms that sell automation software). Clearly, marketing automation has tremendous value, from eliminating repetitive tasks to helping marketers to better segment and target customers. But not all automation is good and I believe marketers are overusing automation on social—especially Twitter.
To be effective on social and drive conversions you need to be, well, social. As an example, I see many companies using automated tools to thank and engage with people on Twitter. Don’t. The reason, aside from obvious automated messages making you look bad, is that you waste any opportunity for real engagement, which is the precursor to a “conversion.”
What brands should do:
Use caution when using marketing automation to communicate with people on social. As a general rule, don’t attempt to disguise an automated communication as something personal. People are smarter than that.
- Traditional Twitter marketing metrics less important
While I do think it’s valuable to monitor traditional social metrics such as likes, favorites, shares, network growth and the number of people clicking on shared links, these are what I call operational metrics—they are only important because they tell you whether or not you are doing social properly. But they are not how you measure your social marketing ROI. Good social marketing improves awareness and interest in your brand. It drives traffic to your website and helps initiate conversations. It leads to conversions in the form of newsletter sign-ups, demo requests, webinar registrations, etc. Some of which will lead to closed business.
Examples of Twitter ‘Operational Metrics’: (Operational metrics only tell you if you’re doing social properly, they don’t factor into an ROI calculation).
What brands should do:
Make sure you have systems in place to measure conversions (e.g., email sign-ups, content downloads, webinar registrations, etc.) from your social marketing.
- Twitter marketing must be incorporated into sales processes
Most brands I speak with are primarily using social to build awareness of their brand by sharing content, connecting and engaging with people. But they struggle with or have yet to use social to identify and build relationships with sales prospects. While I believe there is tremendous value in using social for brand awareness, I also believe that brand visibility alone will not be enough to justify social marketing budgets for skeptical CEOs and CFOs. Marketers need to show how social marketing supports sales.
There are three general ways Twitter can be used for lead generation: advertising, direct messaging, and telemarketing (remember, however, that using Twitter for lead generation starts with a targeted audience of followers—refer to #1 above). Let’s take a quick look at each:
#1: Twitter Card Advertising: Also called a Twitter Lead Generation Card. This is an “ad” displayed to your targeted Twitter accounts in the form of a tweet that includes a direct call-to-action button. The button allows you to collect people’s email address and other contact information they have entered in their Twitter account.
And here is an example of a very successful Twitter Card campaign HRmarketer ran after the annual HR Technology Conference.
The two keys to successful Twitter advertising are (1) a compelling offer that your potential customers can’t resist (such as a free eBook or a giveaway), and (2) targeting the right audience.
Twitter offers a variety of filters to help you target your ads and you can also upload your own list of Twitter IDs to target (see image below).
To better target my Twitter Card campaign I can upload a list of all Twitter users that have used a SHRM conference hashtag over the last year (lists like these are found in HRmarketer Insight software).
Here are two good articles on using Twitter Cards and integrating your campaign with mailchimp.
#2: Twitter Direct Messaging: Twitter allows you to send a direct message to anyone who follows you. But be careful. Unlike email marketing, once a user unfollows you, you cannot message them again. Most direct messages you receive on Twitter are automated—this is obvious and annoying. So be careful not to make your direct messaged appear automated.
Most direct messages you receive on Twitter are automated (like these). Avoid sending automated Twitter direct messages.
Here’s my suggested workflow on using Twitter direct messaging for sales prospecting:
- Monitor (and read the bios) of people who follow you on Twitter.
- When you identify a potential sales prospect, consider sending them a direct Twitter message (but wait a few days after they follow you).
- Personalize your direct message by using the follower’s Twitter bio and/or the site they link to from their Twitter account (e.g., their website, blog, LinkedIn account). This is absolutely critical to avoid looking spammy.
- Experiment with different direct messages and CTAs to see what works best. Use trackable URLs to monitor who is engaging with your messages.
- Consider a product like HRmarketer to help you manage all of the above.
Here is a good blog post on using Twitter for direct messaging:
#3: Telemarketing: I know this sounds like a stretch, and I’ll admit it’s not for everyone. But it can be very effective if you already have a formal telemarketing process in place. Once you identify a potential sales prospect (again, by reading the user’s bio and any other available information), then do a few minutes of research to obtain their contact phone number and if available, their email. You then funnel the prospect into your existing sales nurturing/telemarketing workflows. Again, HRmarketer has tools that help with this.
What brands should do:
Evaluate ways you can incorporate social in your sales process. And use great caution in using social marketing automation tools for these efforts, because it’s usually obvious and you risk alienating your leads.
Brands that understand the role of social as an integrated supportive tactic to a company’s various marketing campaigns will find greater success and have a clearer picture of social’s ROI.
Patient brands that methodically care for their social will be rewarded while those that delegate their social to automated tools disguised as productivity software will continue to falter.
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