Three years after Twitter‘s inception in 2006, the great marketers of the Twittersphere continue to surprise me on an almost daily basis by finding new and exciting ways of getting their name out.
At the same time, there are still far more marketers out there that just aren’t sure how to use Twitter to their advantage and end up giving up when they don’t see a return. For these individuals, I’d like to present a few simple DOs and DON’Ts for a successful Twitter marketer.
Let’s start with the DON’Ts since this is where most people seem to get into trouble…
DON’T spam followers with constant links back to your website
Self-promotion is okay every now and then, but every link that you tweet should NOT go back to your website – that generally makes you what we on the internet like to call a “spammer”. I’d suggest a healthy balance of the following:
- Links to your website(s) – Post a new blog article and want to know what people think? Link it up! But also be sure to try to express an interest in your followers thoughts on the topic – the more you’re followers feel like their opinion matters to you, the more interested they’ll be in what you have to offer them.
- Links to other websites – Find something interesting on the net? Share it – along with your thoughts. If you’ve got valuable content to share, you’re followers will start looking to you for exciting news and information.
- Retweets of links posted by the people you follow – You want your followers to know that what they have to say is valuable too, and more importantly, that you’re paying attention to it. If someone posts something interesting, spread the love. Your followers will appreciate the attention.
Bonus: DON’T tweet ONLY a link without any context. This is a HUGE Twitter foul. Simply put, it wastes your followers time and probably makes them a bit hesitant about clicking – who knows what they could be getting into, and more importantly – do they even care in the first place?
DON’T follow everyone and anyone that you can find
Let’s repeat: spamming is bad. The value of Twitter is in the relationships that you can maintain, not the sheer number of them. It’s safe to say though, as a business, you should follow anyone that follows you – EXCEPT for the spammers. It may also be a good idea to go out looking for other people to follow; consumers in your target market or colleagues in your industry are good places to start.
One great resource for finding new people is WeFollow, a user-powered, tag-based Twitter user directory. WeFollow allows you to tag your Twitter account with three tags that represent you – say ‘blogger’, ‘tech’, and ‘web’, so that other users with similar interests can easily find you.
Bonus: DON’T just follow someone. Try to make it a point to say hello or thank them for following you if they initiated the connection.
DON’T post vast amounts of irrelevant content
Simply put, don’t tweet every little thing that you do. Because most people just don’t care what you had for lunch – unless what you had is somehow of importance to them. Take the following two tweets for example:
mmm I love me a good sammich
I just had a fabulous artichoke & turkey panini at the new Sandwich Shoppe on Adam St. in Saskatchewan – I highly recommend it!
The first example provides, generally, no value to anyone. That’s right, no one cares that you like sandwiches because almost everyone likes sandwiches. If you post these kinds of tweets frequently, you’re likely to lose followers fast. Even if you do have something interesting to offer every now and then, most people won’t want to deal with the extra clutter in their Twitter feeds. So ultimately, posting tweets without value may be far easier, but they can also be far more damaging.
The second example, however, offers your followers something of value – a specific recommendation. Now, anyone in, around, or visiting Saskatchewan might consider checking out the new Sandwich Shoppe because you had such a great experience that you felt it was worth sharing – that’s an extremely powerful marketing tool.
And now, on to the DOs…
DO interact with as many people as possible
Even though tweets are publicly broadcast out to the world, the nature of Twitter content, in general, tends to be relatively personal. This live and personal nature of the content, in tandem with the immediate dispersion of it, gives people a sense of proximity to the poster that has not been previously available on such a large scale.
On top of the one-way sharing aspect, Twitter also allows for two-way communication, primarily via replies and direct messages. This is one of the most interesting aspects of Twitter, in that it branches the gaps between people who never would have converged on their own. CEOs have the ability to talk directly to consumers, celebrities can talk directly to fans, and regular Joe’s with similar interests can find each other all over the world.
Regular and personable interaction with your followers will help to keep them interested in your content, as well as give them a personal and, likely, a positive connection to your brand.
DO get your followers involved
Have a new product coming out or an invite only beta application to test? Get your followers involved! Post images and insider details of the development process and ask your followers for their thoughts, criticisms, or ideas. If you’ve got a beta site, invite your followers to check it out and provide their feedback.
Getting your followers involved in something important to you gives them a sense of control and significance since it’s their feedback that could determine how you move forward. This is a great way to forge new relationships and start new conversations. Plus, if you’ve got a product that’s in high demand, it’s likely to pull in droves of new followers anxious to get involved and keep up to date with developments.
DO give something away to your followers
Another way to get your followers involved, or to simply gain more followers, is by giving something away. Everybody likes a good perk and if following you gets them access to something they can’t get anywhere else, it’s likely they’ll give it a try.
Here are a few examples of companies who’ve successfully utilized this model:
- @macheist asked followers to retweet a promotional post in return for a free software license, regularly costing $50.
- @AdagioTeas posts $10 gift certificate codes, redeemable by the first person only. This likely drives a ton of traffic to their website, and I’d be willing to bet that a lot of these people spend a good amount of time on the site – waiting for the next code to use.
- @trent_reznor, in promotion of Nine Inch Nail’s 2009 summer tour, offered up free tickets and backstage passes to the Xth person to visit a URL he posted to Twitter.
- @jasoncalcanis said he’d give away a free MacBook Air to one of his followers after reaching the #1 followed twitterer spot. He never made it to #1, but he certainly gained tens of thousands of new followers.
- @markhoppus of Blink-182 offered up free music downloads to anyone that retweeted a promotion post.
But that’s just the beginning…
Ultimately, Twitter is about relationships and relationships depend on both parties to survive. If you blast your best friend with innocuous, impersonal marketing pitches, it’s probable that they won’t remain your best friend very long. The same applies to your Twitter followers – be a friend, or at least a person, not a robotic salesman.
The above suggestions are just the tip of the vast and complex Twitter etiquette iceberg. For more marketing ideas and rules of conduct, check out some of the following posts:
- 17 Ways You Can Use Twitter: A Guide for Beginners, Marketers and Business Owners
- Twitter Marketing: Why You Don’t Need to Mass Follow Users
- The Golden Rule of Twitter Marketing
- The Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter
Have you seen any awesome or horrible Twitter marketing implementations? Share them in the comments!