Editor's Note: Check out our latest ebook on How to Use Twitter for Business, complete with updates for 2011! Click here to download it.
Twitter is a tool for "micro-blogging" or posting very short updates, comments or thoughts. In fact, since Twitter was designed to be very compatible with mobile phones through text messages, each update is limited to 140 characters. Truly, a micro-blog. Another way to think of Twitter is like a cross between instant messaging (IM) and a chat room, because it is an open forum, but you restrict it to the people with which you connect.
I have to admit I have not always been sold on Twitter. At first I did not get it at all. Then I thought I understood it, but thought it was stupid and useless. Then I used it a bit more and got some more followers and followed a few more people. Now I think it has some value, especially as a marketing and PR tool.
Ideas for How to Use Twitter for Marketing & PR
- Engage your CEO in social media. Social media is a great way to have a conversation with your market and make and mange connections with prospects, customers, bloggers and other influencers. But for a CEO, the typical routes to social media can be hard. Especially if you are a larger or global company. A CEO typically has little time to write a blog or answer lots of messages and friend requests on Facebook. I cannot tell you how many CEO blogs I have seen with only 1 or 2 posts because the CEO never had time to update the blog after the first couple entries. But, Twitter is limited to 140 characters per update, so it is all about short thoughts and comments. If your CEO can send a text message, they can use Twitter from anywhere in the world as a marketing and PR tool. Twitter is actually perfect for CEO or founder who is always on the road meeting with people and who has some interesting opinions on your market.
- Keep in touch with bloggers / media. It is really easy to follow someone on Twitter (see below). And you'll be surprised how often they decide to follow you as well. In fact, I have lots of people I consider "famous" in the marketing and PR worlds following me. In my opinion, this is a way easier way to connect with influential people in the media than calling and emailing them.
- Monitor your company / brand on Twitter. A while back we noticed that Guy Kawasaki mentioned Website Grader on Twitter. Well, of course we had to let him know a bit more about Website Grader and maybe ask if he would also blog about it? The result was this blog article on Website Grader which drove a good amount of traffic and leads. (See below for a cool tip on how to easily monitor people talking about your company on Twitter.)
- Announce specials, deals or sales. If you are a retailer or anyone who often has special offers, you can use Twitter to announce these deals instantly to a large audience. You know those commercials from Southwest Airlines about that "Ding" application you could download and would then alert you about specials on flights? Well, Twitter can be used as a kind of free version of that. Dell and Woot have done just this type of marketing, with a lot of success.
- Live updates on events or conferences. If you participate in a large trade show or run your own corporate event, you can use Twitter to announce last minute changes, cool events that are happening ("Just announced, David Meerman Scott book signing in the exhibit hall until 11am") and more. It is a great last minute marketing tool.
- Promote blog articles, webinars, interesting news and more. Its really easy to post a link to something in Twitter, and I often post links to blog articles on this blog, or other news articles relevant to HubSpot. A good idea is to post articles on other websites that are relevant to your business, like a customer success story or other PR coverage. If you have other content that is appealing to your audience like a free webinar, post links to those too.
For example, here's a recent report that we posted on Twitter to promote Marketing Transformation Week:
Notice how we've added a specific "hashtag" (#transform) to help us track when this content gets retweeted or shared.
Using Twitter for Marketing & PR - A Step-by-Step Guide
- Sign-up and post a profile. Visit Twitter and click on the "Get Started - Join" button in the middle. The rest is simple enough that I think you can figure it out without my help.
- Write some updates. The beauty of Twitter is that the 140 character limit is the great equalizer - I am about as good of a writer as Shakespeare on Twitter. Post a link to a news article you liked with a one line comment, mention an interesting thought you had, or tell everyone what you are cooking for dinner. Just write something.
- Make friends. Making friends on Twitter is pretty easy. Just surf around the web on your favorite blogs, people's Facebook profiles etc, and when you see a Twitter box that tells you what they are doing click on it. That will bring you to their profile and then you just click on the "Follow" button on the top left and you are now following them. Most of the time they will then follow you back, and the audience for your 140 character insights will have grown by one person. You can get started by following me: Mike Volpe on Twitter. You can also click on the people that other people are following to find more people to follow.
- How to post URLs. Twitter is based on 140 character updates. If you have a really long URL, that doesn't leave much room for Most people on Twitter use www.TinyURL.com to take a long URL and make it short. Give it a shot if you have a long URL that you want to market on Twitter.
- Monitor conversations about your company. Even if you don't join Twitter yourself you can monitor what people are saying about any person, company or brand. This is quite useful from a marketing and PR standpoint. Twitter has a search engine that lets you do just this. For instance, here is a list of everyone who is talking about HubSpot on Twitter. You can subscribe to these searches by RSS to keep yourself updated. Another tip is that you can "follow" all the people you find talking about your company (just click on their username to go to their profile). If they are talking about your company, they would probably be pretty happy that someone from the company wants to follow them.
- How to "chat". Using the @ symbol before someone's Twitter username is how people have "conversations" in Twitter. This makes their username a link to their profile so other people can follow the conversation (sort of). For example if you wrote "@mvolpe thanks for the cool blog article about Twitter today" that would be a way of telling me you liked this article. Try it out. It's not IM (instant messaging), but it is sort of like a publicly broadcast IM service.