May 22, 2009

Twitter Marketing

Everyone is tweeting these days - from movie stars, talk show hosts, and athletes to
regular people and Twitter’s reach and traffic is growing at an exponential rate.

Many marketers have taken notice. But what exactly does Twitter mean for marketers? Is there a genuine opportunity for marketers to tap into the site’s massive user base? It turns out that Twitter has implications that are affecting search marketing, marketing research, brand-ing, reputation management, direct marketing, viral marketing and customer service.

What Twitter Means for Search
Twitter is essentially an accelerated content distribution channel. The concept of “re-tweets” allows the promotion of your message back to the content source you linked to. Depending on who re-tweets your link, you could see a snowball effect that results in more and more SEO-valuable incoming links.

Twitter today is valuable for keyword mining and topic classification in building paid/natural search keyword lists. Twitter can help you capture and discern consumer sentiment, which can inform keyword builds and search campaign account structure.

The power of Twitter is not the site itself, but the tools that interact with the information, parsing it into useful and actionable insights.

You can’t currently bid on keywords in Twitter Search. If you could, it would be a great reputation management tool. People use Twitter Search to see what their peers are saying about products- like an accelerated product review engine. In the future, perhaps advertisers could counteract bad chatter/proactively get in front of chatter about their products with an ad triggered by a Twitter search on their brand/product name. Maybe the ad could help influence perceptions and drive clicks back to the advertiser’s site. Those clicks are qualified because the searcher is already doing research on your product.

What Twitter Means for Market Research
Companies in every sector spend millions of dollars each year to better understand their customers. To drive growth and create differentia-tion beyond product offering, a company needs to develop actionable value propositions for targeted segments. Twitter is being used to generate consumer driven innovations - from asking brand followers for new product suggestions to asking followers the best distribution
channels for products. The detailed nuances in the insights you can develop from a market research surrogate like Twitter can often supplement formal research. Surrogate models that capture and codify sentiment/online buzz expedite the search for promising insights. Twitter can also be used to get an idea of how your consumers are reacting to rival brands. From a search marketing perspective, Twitter insights can aid in creating the consumer journey, which is the key to building an actionable foundation for a successful performance marketing campaign.

What Twitter Means for Branding/Reputation Management
How your brand is defined is now in the hands of consumers. Twitter can help with brand reputation management in a few different ways.
The first is aiding brand marketers in mining competitive insights for more productive sales/marketing. Analysis of sources at the venue and audience level can inform targeting and messaging, in addition to informing you of positive (or negative) things people are saying about your brand. This intelligence could inform natural or paid search reputation management strategies.
Peer product reviews play a huge part in influencing a purchase. Twitter is a more immediate and accessible medium for consumers to find critical product information from their peers. Everything from the quality, availability, and price of the product is exposed in Twitter “micro-reviews,” which may increase/decrease a consumer’s inclination to purchase. Some tweets may link to important product reviews as well.
Marketers should monitor Twitter for brand evangelists and follow those brand evangelists. Marketers should also periodically reach out to their Twitter brand evangelists to influence how they are talking about your product. After all, people on Twitter are more likely to believe what their peers are saying about a brand than what the brand itself is saying.
Brands can also use Twitter to better dominate the SERP.

The bottom line is that it’s important to realize that you can no longer focus solely on marketing channels where you control your brand’s message. Marketers need to think about how Twitter and the various social media channels/Web sites where consumers are talking about your brand are aligned with how you want your brand to be perceived.

What Twitter Means for Direct Marketing

Twitter can send a lot of traffic to your site in real time. For instance, if you introduce a new product, press release, or promotion on Twitter, you can watch in real-time as it gets re-tweeted throughout the world and traffic to your site around that product or promotion jumps.
As these re-tweets happen, more links are built on blogs and other sites that drive traffic to your native site. Twitter can be used for timely sales/specials, event announcements, newsletter pushes, and directly messaging content.

Comparison shopping and deal sites are a critical part of e-commerce. People love a good deal, and millions of searchers routinely check deal and coupon sites to save money and feed the need to consume. With a real-time search engine like Twitter, news of a sale or special offer can explode in a matter of minutes, and the comments will certainly contain several key pieces of information shoppers need to influence their decision to buy.

In addition, Twitter gives marketers insight into consumers’ unique motivations and interests at a deep enough level to drive highly customized, relevant advertising messages. Imagine using social listening tools to inform multichannel marketing strategies that create buzz, leads and sales.

Effective direct marketing adapts to ever-evolving message delivery options, uncovering new growth opportunities with ever increasing velocity. The new direct marketing planning model incorporates customer, content and accountability management to create demand and optimize value-based relationships with smaller audience segments, generating measureable Return on Marketing Investment in the short and long term.

While Twitter may not be the be-all and end-all Google killer from a natural search perspective, social media sites will certainly play an increasing role on the Google SERP. Over time, more Twitter results will likely be supplemental or nestled within the traditional search content. The bottom line is that real-time search will need to get more sophisticated in terms of finding a balance between providing the most relevant and the most recent content/information.