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Twitter Marketing — How to Get Followers and Interact with Them

Is Twitter the real deal or just a fad? I heard this question repeatedly in public forums. People want to know if twitter marketing is potentially effective or just another hype.

It just makes sense. With the growing number of Twitterers, and people twittering about every topic you can possibly imagine, there are rooms for marketers to get their messages out there if they do it the right way.

Here’s a shocking truth. It’s shocking mostly because it comes from a social media evangelist.

Like with any new marketing technology, it is not a surprise that Twitter marketing is more of a hype-up phenomenon than reality. I’ve seen a few of them and I bet there will be more to come in near future. Very aggressive marketers will sell products that claim to teach how to make an insane amount of money with Twitter easily.

Twitter will be seen as a way to “chat” while make money.

A lot of new Twitterers will jump on the bandwagon and find the fact out the hard way. Some of them will eventually believe that if they could not do it, then it is a fad.

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Again, we’ve seen it with blogs. We’ve seen it with podcasts. Now is the turn for Twitter wave.

Getting Unfair Advantages as an Early Adopter of Twitter

Experience has told us that early adopters to a marketing technology that works is going to give an unfair advantage over others who come in much later.

Bloggers who got started a few years back can easily create a blog, posted short updates a few times a day and grew their traffic to a few hundreds or even thousands in a few short months.

Try that approach today. I’ll save you time to do that. It doesn’t work.

As competitions get stiffer, quality of content is compulsory if you want to stand out in the crowd.

Problem is, early adopters always have to figure things out by themselves. Often through trial and error.

You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. There is a way to get such advantage and at the same time enjoy the advantage not available to your competitors (yet).

If you monitor the twittosphere and blogosphere closely, right now you’ll be able to see early results using specific strategies by social media marketers. Study how that works and adopt it to your business.

It requires work, but if you do it right, you will still be able to penetrate your market quite easily in this relatively new medium.

The Best Advice I Could Give…

This is the best advice I could give about integrating Twitter into your marketing mix at this moment.

Just do it.

No, not that kind of slogan but more about taking action and move toward your goal with the right plan and expectation.

For an example of setting the right expectation is that you may find people are talking about everything in Twitter but that doesn’t mean you will be able to grow massive amount of followers and buyers with Twitter alone but at least you can start building relationship and interacting with your audience.

So, the first thing to start with is a plan. Understand your (future) followers and plan on what you are going to do with Twitter. Here are some ideas:

  • Broadcast news.
  • Ask questions and get feedback / advice.
  • Run a poll.
  • Point to useful resources.
  • Promote your content.
  • Tell others about a new job or event.

Of course, the plan means nothing without followers, but in order to attract the right followers you must know what you are trying to aim with it. Here is a more complete guide on how to create a plan for using Twitter.

How to Increase Your Twitter Followers (and Following)

In Twitter, there are people who you follow and those who follow you. Obviously if you want to build an audience, you need to have more followers.

However, you also need to be following influencers and experts in your niche. If nothing else, you need to know what they tweet and how they do it. Establishing relationships with key people in the industry can only bring good things to your business.

You may start by following bloggers who showcase their Twitter profiles on their sites or blogs or use Twitter Search. In my Twitter tutorial, I listed five ways to find the right people to follow.

“But now, how could I get followers?” I hear you ask.

Instead of focusing on getting followers, you should put your effort on building value. Even as the result the number of followers grow slowly, if you do it the right way, most likely they will be much more responsive than if you mass follow everyone hoping that some of them will follow you back.

Think about building a small community instead of large followers who don’t even know you.

Twitter is about karma. The more you help others — or make your Twitter as a useful resource — the more you receive. It takes time to build followers and establish relationships with followers and influencers.

If you are interested in getting more followers for Twitter account, here are a few ideas you could use:

  • Promote, promote, promote. Put your Twitter ID in the signature of every email. Mention it in your blog. Whenever you have a chance to drop a hint about your Twitter, do it. Of course, that presumes you are communicating with the right audience.
  • Organize a contest through your Twitter profile. This is effective only if you are able to get participants who will in turn talk about the contest. Assuming they also have followers, soon you will be able to grow your followers.
  • Guest blogging. Writing for other blogs is very close to stealing other people’s traffic. You provide content while they drive you some traffic in return. If you target the right blogs, you are going to build your Twitter folowers in no time.
  • Cross promotion. Explicitly ask a Twitterer to mention about you or your content and in return you do the same for them. This may happen automatically if you promote other people’s content but a little self promotion doesn’t hurt either.
  • Create linkbait. Superb quality content gets its share of publicity through social media, links from blogs and web sites and people tend to pass it via email or Twitter. Certainly many people are wiling to follow you if you are able to create such an interesting and useful piece of content.

General Tips for Interacting with Twitter Followers / Following

Getting followers to your Twitter account is just half of the battle for twitter marketing. You need to interact and cultivate relationships with your followers. Each tweet is an opportunity to reach out and get in touch with them. Make them know you better. It is a process, but definitely something worth doing.

Here are a few suggestions when it comes to interacting with Twitter followers / following:

  • Use your personal brand as Twitter ID. If you are known as the traffic expert, you can use that, but generally a name is good enough for personal brand. Just remember that Twitter ID should not be too long. It saves some characters when people reply or refer to you in their tweets.
  • Join the conversations. Follow the right people and join in the conversations to start expanding your network. Twitter is not a one way broadcast medium so you should not use it as such. If someone @reply to you, make sure you answer if answer is necessary.
  • Share valuable information. Don’t be hesitant to promote your findings, even if it is your competitor’s content. Twitter is about giving away valuable stuff and make following your account enjoyable, so people pay more attention to your tweets. They will appreciate the fact that you are follower-centric.
  • Find out who follows you. At the very least, read his/her bio. If you are involved in other marketing activities like blogging, knowing who is doing what will open up new opportunities. Guest blogging in other people’s blogs, for instance, not only drive you traffic, but also increase your Twitter followers. But first of all, it is a conversation starter.
  • Know who reply to you. If you are not using an advanced Twitter client, consider grabbing RSS feed to your personal brand search onto your favorite news reader.

Twittosphere is an entirely different social media world that you should be listening to besides the blogosphere. If you omit either one of then, you are only getting a part of the equation.


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Using Twitter To Create & Inform Communities

Let’s get really wacky. Let’s figure out how to use Twitter to help a Big Pharma company. That should be an interesting challenge.

Everybody who uses it tends to fall in love with Twitter, and meanwhile everyone seems to pretty much despise Big Pharma … is there a twitterific way for one of these monolithic drug companies to soften our distaste?

First let’s pick a Big Pharma company. I’ll choose Pfizer.

Now let’s look at some of the diseases that Pfizer drugs try to tackle. “Clinical Depression?” That works. Depression seems to be on the rise. Pfizer offers a drug called Sinequan to help manage clinical depression. A quick Google Blog Search reveals over 12,000 hits mentioning this drug. That’s enough critical mass to warrant a campaign like the one below.

Now, on to Twitter. (I need to assume that you are familiar with Twitter. If not there are many posts out there that can explain it all to you.)

If we’re a marketer from Pfizer, we can create a new Twitter account called “”

Of course we could also choose usernames like “Pfizer” (too broad) or “Depression” (too depressing – who’d want to publicly “follow” a Twitter account with a name like that?) The username “Sinequan” is kinda mysterious-sounding; only those who have a prescription (or know of friends/family on the drug) will catch on to the import of the name; and besides, we’re not trying to HIDE; we are actively trying to be FOUND – just in an unobtrusive way.

Now we go to Terraminds to conduct some twittersearches on the term “depression.” (Apparently Twitter will offer this functionality itself, soon.)

Plenty of the microposts that mention this term via Twitter are inappropriate for our purposes, e.g., “Watching an episode of Scrubs about depression” or “ Looks like that tropical depression (#10) has broken up.” We can safely ignore those.

But this same basic search quickly turns up tweets like these:

“Online test scores me at 76% for adult ADD - but notes that depression and anxiety must first be discounted as causes.”

“Feeling very down… today has not been a good depression day… Hate being a freak.”

“I’m still not in the mood to write a new sensible post because of my postnatal depression… was I even pregnant?”

(Before you bitch me out for insensitivity for “outing” these posts, please keep in mind that these were written and posted in a public forum! Clinical depression is horrible & debilitating; using the Social Media techniques described in this post is not intended to exploit but to help these sufferers.)

Ultimately (and sadly), it seems that there are scores of tweets containing the phrase “depression.”

Now, the Pfizer marketer who manages the “Sinequan” account on Twitter can begin to “follow” any & all of the twitterati who use the word “depression” in an appropriate way in their tweets. These twitterers will receive an email that “Sinequan is now following your updates on Twitter. Check out Sinequan’s profile here:”

Most twitterati I know can hardly resist the urge to check-out the profiles of any new “followers.” At the “Sinequan” profile page, they’d find a Web link pointing to the official Sinequan webpage maintained by Pfizer. Actually I’d recommend that Pfizer create a beefed-up landing page for folks who find it via Twitter, e.g., with info on “Why is ‘Sinequan’ following me on Twitter?”, with quizzes (“How can you tell if you are clinically depressed?”) – and, with info on community resources … in other words, a page designed to help sufferers whether they become Sinequan users or not!

And “why is Sinequan following me on Twitter?” – This could be easily explained. “If you found this page because you saw that ‘Sinequan’ is now following you on Twitter,’ it’s just because you once posted a tweet that used the word ‘depression.’ If you think you might suffer from clinical depression, this site may help you. If we got it wrong, we’re really sorry: just let us know through this web form and we’ll remove our subscription to your tweets. (No need to give us any personal info beyond your public Twitter name.) Thanks!” Short, sweet, human.

(Speaking of “human” … Ideally there’s a true human personality behind the “Sinequan” account. It would be nice to introduce them via this beefed-up landing page.)

Now, what should “Sinequan” tweet about? Because once “Sinequan” has started “following” a few dozen (or few hundred!) twitterers, we can assume that a decent handful will reciprocate and start “following” Sinequan’s tweets. A community will form. A community “founded” by Pfizer’s Sinequan rep, sure, yet also a community of people with similar issues who might also start to help each other out. A virtual support group.

Here’s what Sinequan should NOT tweet about: Sinequan. If this becomes a Pfizer commercial in execution, it’s a campaign that deserves execution – as in “death.”

Rather, the Pfizer rep could use the “Sinequan” account to microblog about Clinical Depression. I envision statistics (“National survey: 25% of the population reported having symptoms severe enough to warranty the diagnosis for an anxiety disorder”), news (“Study: Employers benefit from treating depression”), helpful tidbits (“Pregnant Smokers May Suffer Depression”), etc. Any one of those tweets could change a sufferer’s life.

Will Sinequan sales soar? Not likely. Will more people who may suffer from clinical depression seek out a doctor? – maybe ask their physician about Sinequan? No doubt.

More to the point: would anyone object to this use of Twitter? If it is handled with sensitivity, I think not.

And that leads us full circle. The use of a Social Media tool like Twitter – used with subtlety, grace and in adherence to the idea of contributing to the community – could make a Big Pharma company like Pfizer look downright humane. Maybe even human. Whodathunkit??


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Tweeting for Companies 101

Why Twitter?

Twitter can be an amazingly powerful platform for connecting to your community as well as driving traffic to the various properties you want people to go. Having an event? Tweet it out! Launched a new bag? Tweet it out!

The key to Twitter is the level of listening you do as well as talking. It is definitely supposed to be an interactive program. And, in fact, this is where you build the majority of your Whuffie (aka social capital). The more you interact on Twitter, the more people will interact with you, which attracts others to you as well.

One of my favorite quotes about the benefits of Twitter is from Tony Hsieh at Zappos:

You send an SMS text message to Twitter with your note, and your message will be automatically broadcast (like CB radio) to whoever is choosing to follow you (your friends). If people don’t care what you’re doing, they won’t follow you, so don’t worry about sending out trivial messages.

At first, it will seem really weird and unnatural for you to do this, but just trust me on this one. You will find that it’s actually a really good way to stay in touch with all your friends and know what’s going on in their lives.

…I was flying in to the Vegas airport, and I twittered “Just landed in Vegas airport.” I would have never texted anyone that message, but in the Twitter culture, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. It just so happened that someone on my Twitter network was about to fly out of Vegas, so we met up at the airport bar and had a drink. I would have never known otherwise that this person was at the airport, nor would I have ever sent him a text message or called him that I had just landed. Source

I love that story because it is exactly what Twitter does for us all of the time: it accelerates serendipity.

What are Some Good Examples of Corporate Tweeters?

What kinds of interactions are beneficial? Well, take two very popular Tweeters: Zappos and JetBlue. Here are a few examples:


Some photos of our company picnic are up now at: - I think we had 1000 people show up!

I want to meet more customers. On Monday, I will select a random @zappos follower for free trip for 2 to Vegas for office tour & lunch w/ me

At Vegas airport now, waiting a couple of hours until my flight to San Jose, CA.

@wisekaren I’m wearing Donald Pliner shoes to the wedding.

Finished photo shoot w/ Forbes. 4 hours & they choose 1 photo. Behind the scenes:…

@bryanbartlett now says he can’t make it. Anyone else want 1 ticket to van halen at 830 tonight at mandalay in Vegas?

Just landed in Vegas. Got lots of twitters about our new beta site Thx for all the feedback, keep it coming!



@laughingsquid Thanks! Just wait until our new terminal at JFK opens! (Hope you had a great time in NYC)

@BookingBuddy We’re happy to support Runner’s World, but don’t worry, you can still channel surf and eat blue chips if you want!

Two days left to win two trips on JetBlue to “The Simpsons Movie” premiere in LA. Enter now!×6ql3

The term ‘Interwebular Chronicle’ makes me laugh.

View this month’s selection of first-run movies from Fox InFlight Premium Entertainment:

To all of our Twitter friends: enjoy your weekend!

As you can see from these selections, both companies are really great at balancing promotional tweets (”View this month’s selection of first-run movies from Fox InFlight Premium Entertainment” and “Got lots of twitters about our new beta site”) with personal tweets (”The term ‘Interwebular Chronicle makes me laugh.” and “At Vegas airport now, waiting a couple of hourse until my flight to San Jose, CA.”) with conversational tweets (”@laughingsquid Thanks! Just wait until our new terminal at JFK opens!” and “@wisekaren I’m wearing Donald Pliner shoes to the wedding”). They also have fun contests (”I want to meet more customers. On Monday, I will select a random @zappos follower for free trip for 2 to Vegas” and “Two days left to win two trip on JetBlue to “The Simpsons Movie” premiere in LA.”) to help increase their follower numbers and keep people reading.

Stuff to Tweet About

There are no rules about what you should tweet out, here are a few suggestions for you. It is important that you balance the ‘outbound’ with the ‘inbound’. In otherwords, the announcements with the conversations:

  1. Personal thoughts and reflections that suit your brand - this helps people feel more trust towards you and your brand and strikes up conversations
  2. Events (both your own and other events your audience may find interesting) - this makes things interesting and, perhaps, gives you a way to meet your followers
  3. Contests (”The first three people who answer this trivia question get….”) - they drive more followers and interest in what you tweet
  4. Replies (@twittername) - this comes from listening to your followers (you have to follow back to see their tweets). The more personal the reply, the higher the impact.
  5. Direct replies (d twittername) - this isn’t in the public timeline, but it helps build deeper bonds to talk directly to someone like this. This is helpful to answer people when it is a private matter or when you want to show concern (i.e. someone reports an accident, etc.)
  6. New blog posts - you should keep these to one per day at the very most and you should also promote other people’s blog posts that are of interest
  7. Announcements - if it is interesting, tweet it
  8. OH’s (overheard) - someone say something in the office or when you are out and about that cracks you up? Type OH: “well, if you don’t mind, im trying to work on my love life” or something else funny (sometimes used to offset potentially racy comments…if you didn’t say it, but are just REPEATING IT, then it’s okay)
  9. Rickrolls or other fun internet games - this shows you are a bunch of fun and has people trying to do the same for you. Spreading as many internet memes as possible is good.
  10. Lyrics and quotes - especially fun are the lyrics: ?Never give the game away | Try to keep me entertained, baby | Don’t make it too easy | Leave something for me and my imagination? as the musical notes make for lots of questions
  11. Links to media you create - video is fun, podcasts, perhaps interviews that are posted online about you, etc.
  12. Shout outs - @twittername rocks! Thanks for the great link: These make people feel great, too.

Tweets that make people laugh are awesome, but tweets that make people think are even better.

How to Tweet Without Losing Your Soul

So, before you even ask. Yes. Twitter takes time. It takes a bunch of attention and love and care. There ARE ways to minimize the work and keep up to date, though:

  1. Run a twitter client on your desktop and connect it to Growl. For desktop clients see: My favorites are: Twhirl, Snitter and Twitterific
  2. Take twitter on the road! If you have an iPhone there are great sites like Pockettweets or the twitter mobile site. You can also just send your text messages to 40404. That’s pretty simple. Check out the apps page again for more options on other phones like Blackberries.
  3. Keep a good track of who is talking about you, so you can reply back! With Tweetscan you can track all sorts of keywords there as well as watch who is replying to you (there is also a tab on the main website for your replies). You can always plug the results into your RSS feeds…
  4. Put a twitter widget on your blog!
  5. Hook it up to your Facebook page! Only update your status in one place at a time and have it show in multiple places! Details here:

There is also a great listing of fun apps to use with Twitter here. Watch out, though. It’s totally addictive!

How to Talk Twitter

There is a glossary of terms over here where you will find that MOST terms used on Twitter start, not surprisingly, with ‘Tw’. Like tweet, meaning one post on twitter, and TweetUp, which is a Twitter Meetup. But the basic terms you need to know are the commands to put in front of what you are saying. Like:

D twittername - direct message (not public, goes right to the Tweeter in question)
@twittername - public reply
Follow twittername - start following someone
Leave twittername - stop following someone
on - turns your notifications on (on your phone or however you are receiving tweets)
off - turns notifications off
help - accesses the other commands as you may need them

there is more here:

There are also some things that have come out of the community like:

hashtags or # - put a hashtag in front of a ‘tag’ for easier tracking (i.e. This speaker is really nailing it. I think her slides are brilliant! #web2expo). This is really useful for conferences, events and specific topics of interest. You can read a little more about the history here You can track hashtags at Twemes.

A Couple of Extra Things

Before I wrap this up, there are a few other ‘Tweet like a pro’ ideas:

  1. Shorten your URLs at Tweetburner where you can also track stats on these links!
  2. The mother of all places to find everything awesome Twitter is:
  3. Want to set up a ‘group’ tweet? This is way cool: Grouptweet (have multiple employees send messages to d companyname with a message that you can aggregate at @companyname)
  4. Give people beer for good deeds with Foamee

Now you are ready to tweet like a pro!


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Intangibility of Twitter Results

Last week I had lunch with a marketing director from a well known cosmetics company. He believes in the power of social media, especially Twitter to promote the brand. He created a company Twitter account as well as his personal account where he announces company news, new blog posts, promotions and sales.

When we chatted, he shared with me how difficult it is for him to convince his boss about the effectiveness of Twitter marketing. He had a quarterly marketing report due where he had to show “the numbers”, i.e. how much time was spent on Twitter, how many tweets and how it converted into sales.

Twitter results depend very much on the type of products you market. In most cases the immediate call to action does not bring the expected results. So should you cross off Twitter from your marketing tools?

I had this thought when I first joined Twitter. I remember a couple of my Tweets promoting a jewelry piece, offering a discount. After posting it, I would immediately go and check the results only to be disappointed and find out how few of my couple of thousands followers actually bought the piece. But then I would show up at a party where someone I was introduced to, has heard about my jewelry collection thanks to Twitter. Before the Holidays I received an email from @masscontrolkern, an online marketing guru who asked me if we could design a 14K gold and diamond necklace for his wife. He said he found me on Twitter.

As I was getting more online orders, more press inquiries and interview requests, I understood how Twitter marketing works. It’s not direct, it’s not always that you can just plug in the formula of the amount of time you spend on Twitter divided by the generated sales. You can’t measure the immediate impact of your brand’s Twitter presence. Trying to plug Twitter into a formula won’t work unless the formula results include brand awareness, exposure and word-of-mouth.

By Anna of Lucid New York - Follow her @LucidAnna

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