Ever since Twitter first hit the scene, it has been many things to many people. It truly is a device whose shape and substance changes depending on who is looking at it. While writers would consider it a great source of content inspiration and reference materials, bloggers would look at it as a great source of memes and other fairly popular topics that writers who share specific subject can draw from a common source of ideas. Political analysts would look at Twitter as some sort of way to take the pulse of the general public regarding a particular political issue. Researchers would look at it regarding sociological trends. Finally, marketers would look at Twitter as a way to push their products and services. Which is the reality? The truth of the matter is all of the people described above are looking at Twitter in a realistic way based on their particular needs.
The Two Sides of Twitter: Marketers’ Wishful thinking versus Reality
However, there are many levels to this analysis. In the marketing sphere, which is the focus of this article, Twitter has two faces. Depending on the face that you see, your chances of success with using Twitter to break your brand out, to generate sales and to achieve your marketing objectives can be seriously affected. Your perspective sets your expectations. Your expectations set your success. You have to be very clear in how you analyze Twitter and how you analogize Twitter for you to be able to fully understand it in terms of your specific marketing objectives. Only then can you devise a plan of action that has a better probability of yielding results.
What Twitter Looks Like to Some Marketers: A Sales Platform
When Twitter’s marketing use became apparent several years ago, there was a virtual tsunami of all sorts of e-books and “how-to” guides to turn Twitter into some sort of sales machine. A lot of would-be Twitter gurus were taking people’s money purporting to teach them how to make loads of money off Twitter. Sadly, most of these so-called money making tips for Twitter are actually based on mistaken assumptions regarding Twitter’s setup. The truth of the matter is that Twitter is an indirect sales platform. While it is possible to generate some sales off Twitter, in terms of direct sales, is nowhere near the effectiveness of e-mail marketing. In fact, generally speaking, Twitter’s effectiveness as a direct sales platform ranks lower than using standard website-based sales pages.
What Twitter Really Is: A Branding Device
There is a big difference between direct sales and branding. Direct sales happen when you are looking for a product, you already have an idea regarding what to buy, you search for that brand or ideal online, and you buy from a page on a website. It is pretty straightforward. There is information listed on the page that gives you the information you need to actually pull the trigger and buy the service or product that you are interested in.
Branding is different from direct sales
Branding, on the other hand, is not measured in terms of how many sales you make off a web page. Branding is the ability to have a conversation with a user. If a user is interested in a particular pair of shoes, they are not inclined to buy immediately. The branding opportunity is a way to get the idea of buying your particular shoes in the mind of the user. This is a conversation where, through repetition, through constant followup, and through constant addition of information, you build up the value of your product or service in the mind of the reader regarding. This is not a one sale kind of deal. This is an ongoing process. That is why communication devices that put the brand in front of the target buyer continuously are quite effective because they spoon-feed information to the prospect.
Branding possibilities on Twitter
Branding on Twitter is very different from how branding is normally done. Traditional branding is conducted through word of mouth, through TV, through magazines and through radio. In those situations, branding actually has to work harder because out of the vacuum, there is a need that has to be created in the mind of the viewer or recipient. Through sheer repetition and strategic placements, the brand identity takes shape in the mind of the target buyer. On Twitter, branding works the other way where the person actually seeks you out and you send that reader information regarding the brand. That is one of the key advantages of Twitter because it is a brand delivery device. The target user gets branded elsewhere whether it is doing a search on a search engine or seeing special promotions on Facebook and is encouraged to follow your brand’s Twitter feed. A person could also be branded through magazines.
Keeping the brand conversation going
The value of Twitter is not to establish the brand as much as it is to maintain the discussion, to keep the branding process going. There is a big difference between what Twitter does and what other methods of branding do. The bottom line is that by keeping the brand alive in the mind of the target user, this stored information translates into a sale when the need arises. That is what makes Twitter a powerful branding tool because it gives you a way to keep conversing with people you branded elsewhere. You can continue to send them branding messages just by posting on your Twitter feed. This is because followers automatically receive your updates.
Advantages over Traditional Branding
This is a far cry from the way offline branding works because for the target to get branded again, the advertisement has to run again and they have to be in front of the TV when it does or listening to that particular radio station or skimming through a magazine that has that brand. The great thing about Twitter is that the people who are interested in your brand are following you and then you respond in kind by branding them further through increasing the volume of the brand, tying the brand to content. The key in Twitter is to keep the conversation going. See how different this is from the direct sales message?
Key advantage: Keeping the brand alive
The concept behind branding is to keep the brand alive and not necessarily converting it to sales immediately right then and there. If anything, having like a broad pool of people that are constantly branded leads to sales not just one time, not just twice, but all through the life of their membership on your Twitter feed. Also, using Twitter as a branding tool allows you to create cross-sales with other related products or to introduce your readers to higher value products or newer products that you are holding out. The limits truly are endless when it comes to using Twitter as a branding device because it affords you one strategic advantage: People interested in what you have to say are following you and waiting for you to send them messages. A few other methods are as powerful as a well done Twitter branding campaign. One of these examples is, of course, opt in e-mail. However, an opt in e-mail list is more expensive to build than a twitter list.
What Twitter Isn’t: It Isn’t a Blog in the Strict Sense
It is actually very hard to blog with Twitter if you are going to blog in the formal sense. It is a difficult medium if you are going to actually write out your posts through Twitter. Unless you are some sort of haiku genius, it is really hard to condense the information organization that you want to convey in a post using Twitter. Also the way Twitter is setup, it certainly is not conducive towards a normal type of blog reading. It makes for a lousy full blog.
What Twitter Really Is: It is a Blog Assistant
Sure you cannot read a blog with Twitter per se, but you can use it as an assistant for your blog. When you have visitors going to your blog, you use Twitter to update them on the newest entries to your blog. There are WordPress plug-ins that will automatically post on your Twitter page whatever updates you post on your blog. How does this help you? It helps in two very fundamental ways. First, not all of your blog’s readers are familiar with RSS. Many do not use RSS reader to read blogs. They just manually go to your blog either through a bookmark or through a link on their navigation bar or some other manual way and they go to your blog and read your posts. Of course, the most efficient way to do this would be to use an RSS reader. Unfortunately, not all blog readers are that sophisticated.
Use Twitter as an alternative to an RSS feed reader
By using Twitter as your update notifier for your blog’s readers, you are able to reach people that are unfamiliar with RSS. Also since they are already using Twitter to either follow their friends or to post their tweets, by showing your links in their Twitter feed, you get in front of their eyeballs more frequently. Your chances of having them come to your site are increased rather than having them find you on their own. Just ask any specialty store owner offline regarding barriers to getting a person in the door and you would know exactly the dynamics in play here. The more effort you put on a person to go to your content or to go to your store, the less likely that person would actually go back to your site or in the offline world go to your store. The key is to minimize the hurdles that they need to go through to do the action that you want them to do, which in this case is to visit your blog. Twitter minimizes the hurdles by actively pushing your link on to their feed. The moment you post an update, your link will appear along with your small blurb or caption or summary regarding the link and all they need to do is click and they are at your blog.
Leveraging the Explosive Power of the Retweet
The second reason it is a good idea to incorporate Twitter in your blog is the power of the retweet. Retweets work this way: When somebody follows you on Twitter, whenever you post an update, they get a copy of your update on their Twitter feed. Simple enough, right? However, when you look at one of the icons that appear when you get a tweet update is that you can retweet that update. What that means is the message of the person that you are following can be re-broadcast to the people that are following you. Do you see the exponential possibilities of this feature? Simply put, an obscure nobody can get a lot of people reading his tweet if a popular follower retweets his update. This has tremendous potential and it is being used by marketers daily. In Twitter, you do not need a multimillion dollar marketing budget for your tweet to become viral and for your blog posts to get a lot of readers. All you need to do is have great content and if you target the right people with this content and it speaks to their needs, you will be sure that eventually you might get retweets. The more retweets you get, the more influential you are on Twitter.
What Twitter Isn’t: It Isn’t a Spam Megaphone
There are many automated Twitter tools available online and some of the more obnoxious ones actually automate posting their links over and over again on to Twitter. There is no concern regarding category. There is no effort made to even target the message. It just keeps repeating the same list of descriptions and the link. These tools even spam hashtags.
They would take popular hashtags and then randomly rotate links and the description with that hashtag, hoping to spam that hashtag. How? When somebody does search for a particular hashtag topic on Twitter search, the spam messages will come up along with the hashtag. What Twitter isn’t? Far from a spam megaphone where spammers are just trying to ride on certain trends what are being searched on Twitter, Twitter can actually be a very powerful search engine. All you need to do is go to twitter.com/search and you type in any subject matter you are interested in and you will see the tweets that were published regarding that subject matter.
The importance of Twitter Search Trends
It is important to see volume information regarding the things people are searching for. If you are searching for a particular subject matter, people who have tweeted about that or posted things about that would appear. Depending on how you look at it, this may be a more trustworthy reference to look for a particular item than a search engine. Why? Unless you are looking at spam entries, most people that would comment or would place links regarding a particular topic have their friends following them. This means that they do not want to destroy their credibility with their friends by posting garbage that is unrelated or irrelevant. At the theoretical level of this, there is a higher regard for policing relevancy, policing accuracy and making sure that whatever material is posted is credible.
Using Twitter as a trust-based search engine
If you are using Twitter as a search engine, the chances are higher that you will get relevant and trustworthy results. As we have covered in previous guides at ereviewguide.com, many search engine optimization specialists routinely manipulate search engine rankings. Irrelevant or unrelated pages appear in search engine queries. Also the results that are pulled out tend to be more commercial in nature than otherwise. Using Twitter as a search engine allows you to leverage the trust friends have for each other when posting links on Twitter or discussing subject matter on Twitter.
What Twitter Is: It is a Trend Tracker
Related to using Twitter as a search engine is to use Twitter as a way to find hot trends. If you are looking for topics to blog on and you want to blog on topics that people are actively searching for or to be interested in, Twitter is a great place to find trends. This is because if you can see a topic trending really high, the chances are if you blog on that topic, more people would be actually searching for that topic and your blog post might give more traffic. This is a great way to promote your blog by hitching its posts to highly popular topics on Twitter. Of course, this is not instant and it takes sometime to go from hot trends that you blog on to actually showing up at a decent place on search engine rankings.
Using Twitter to track Business Opportunities
In addition to search engine ranking benefits, using Twitter to track trends also yields good ideas regarding business opportunities. If the people are talking about a particular product or product niche or category, you can use this information to sell that product or build a specially-targeted website for that product or service. The applications are certainly quite endless regarding product promotion on using trends. Finally, using Twitter as a trend tracker allows you to buy domains based on trends that people are actually interested in. The bottom line is domains are big money. However, older methods of finding domains to invest in no longer work as effectively as they do. Using Twitter trends to find subject matter that people are engrossed in can either give you the direct idea for domain registration or at least points you to the right direction on a niche category, which you can then research further to get the domain names that you are mainly interested in reserving. The domain industry is a fast-moving industry because things come into fashion and fall out of fashion very quickly. There are a few tools as effective as Twitter in identifying trends that you may want to based domain names on.
The Final Word on Twitter
To ensure that Twitter produces the right results for you, make sure that their expectations regarding this amazing tool are correct. Your expectations are correct only if they meet your needs and how realistic they are in relation to your needs. One particular conception of Twitter may not be right to another person because their needs are different. The key is to always be honest with your needs and look at Twitter accordingly. Your usage follows your expectations.