How To Use Twitter For Targeted Marketing

When we publish a tweet usually it’s something we want all of our followers to see. This is particularly true for brands when the message involves product or promotion – this is one-to-many marketing. It’s usually the best option as it attracts the most eyeballs, which of course increases click-throughs and the conversion rate.

However, Twitter also offers one-to-one marketing opportunities. You can do this via a mention or a direct message – you simply send a tweet directly to one user.

I think mentions work better because they’re public and open – it seems less duplicitous because even though you’re targeting an individual, everyone can see it. This is vital, because it builds trust, and for the marketer that’s what it’s all about.

Conversely, marketing messages sent via direct message often appear sly and manipulative, as if you’re trying to steal somebody’s attention in a sneaky and underhanded fashion.

So, unless you already have a relationship with an individual who trusts you, brands should avoid the use of DMs to sell product. But mentions work fine – if you follow specific guidelines.

How To Market To Individuals On Twitter

  1. Set up a series of keyword and phrase searches on Twitter search or your favourite app. Search for mentions of your brand, your products, competitors products, and so on. It’s worth being creative here, using emoticons to detect the mood of your customers – both existing and potential. Have somebody monitor these searches throughout the day – they should always be running.
  2. Depending on how well-established your brand is, you’ll either generate a ton of results or just a few. The number isn’t really important, but the next part is – research. If a user is showing potential interest in your brand, don’t just blast them out a sales message. Take the time to check out their Twitter page, read their other tweets and visit their blog. Build up a profile. Are they genuinely interested? If so, great. If not, move on to the next user. Do not adopt the mentality of having ‘nothing to lose’ with untargeted Twitter marketing – you have everything to lose by doing this. Do the work.
  3. Do not follow anybody at this stage.
  4. Once you’ve identified a genuine opportunity, carefully write out your message, obeying the usual tweet guidelines. The approach must be personal. This is possibly your only chance – do not blow it by regurgitating some poorly-written, spammy internet marketer piece of crap. Good approaches are friendly and personable, as opposed to cold and robotic.
  5. TIP: it often works best to write an open mention as opposed to replying directly to the tweet that expressed interest in what you are selling. The latter tips off the user that you are keyword scanning and makes many uncomfortable that they are ‘being watched’ by the brand overlords. To further reduce this risk, leave some time (at least 30 minutes or so) between when you send your message and when the user tweeted theirs.
  6. Always attach an incentive to your mention (15%, free shipping, etc) – if it’s personalised to the user it will work even better.
  7. If the user responds in a positive manner, this is when you follow them.
  8. Do not bug them. Do not repeat the marketing message, or any variation thereof. Ever. Ever.
  9. Build the relationship. Respond to any questions, and be helpful and courteous.
  10. Important: do this sparingly. Never follow-up a sales tweet to one user with a sales tweet to another. The last thing you want is a profile page that is made up of marketing messages. This makes you look like a spammer, and all your other good work will be for naught. Separate all of these kinds of approaches with lots of your ‘normal’ tweets – at least 10 – spread out over your normal frequency of updates. And never use the same approach twice.

If you’re used a tailored incentive or a trackable link you can analyse the behaviour and provide follow-up service using other tools.

You can also use these methods to provide first-class customer support on Twitter.

How NOT To Market To Individuals On Twitter

  1. Use blitzkrieg methodology to blast out the same crappy marketing message to hundreds of users all in a row. Unless, of course, you want people to think you’re a spammer.
  2. Send untargeted messages to any and everybody.
  3. Bug, bully or harass.
  4. Try to trick people into clicking on links.
  5. Mass follow.
  6. Ask them to follow you back because you want to send them a direct message.
  7. Send them a direct message.
  8. Lie.
  9. Rope in trending hashtags that have nothing whatsoever to do with you or your message.
  10. Act in any way, shape or fashion like a marketer.

That last one is tricky, I know – but it’s basically essential. This is a budding relationship. You need to be their friend. And not the annoying hanger-on who calls all the time, borrows money that is never paid back and harasses your sister. You need to be the good kind – the one who listens and pays attention to another person, and only that person.

A lot of people will tell you that targeted marketing is ill-advised on Twitter, but that’s only because so many organisations do it really, really badly, and it’s subsequently been cast in a bad light. You don’t have to make those same mistakes. And if you’re selective, do your research and behave in a courteous manner, you never will.