Way too often real-time Twitter marketing is either not taken seriously, or discussions about it bring up the same repeated comparisons and “insights” that aren’t really insights – from the infamous Oreo tweet during the Superbowl back in 2013 (can we please move on now?), to sayings of how brands need to “be genuine”, “talk with one voice”, “be human” and “be engaging”.
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
I prefer taking a more practical approach, so here are my thoughts:
First things first (a quick sidenote):
Before diving right in, I need to stress this out:
- Twitter was not made for brands. When Jack Dorsey prototyped Twitter, it was envisioned as an SMS-based social network, with a “from the people, for the people” concept. Twitter wasn’t built for brands, it was not intended to be a marketing channel. Twitter was made for the consumer and in a way, as a brand, to Twitter you’re just a customer. However, when it comes to brands, Twitter is only accommodating them, and that is why you have the ability and tools to advertise on the platform. (That, and the fact that Twitter needs to make money somehow.) The point is: Twitter belongs to the consumer. The consumer doesn’t owe you “engagement” – it’s earned. Being on Twitter you’re playing in the consumer’s court – you’re in the consumer’s world, you just advertise in it.
Now that we have that settled, let’s get back to the subject of this post – real-time marketing on Twitter:
The 3 steps to real-time Twitter marketing:
Real-time Twitter marketing comes with one thing – a plan. Frankly, on such a fast-paced platform sometimes the best things are unplanned. However, even the unplanned moments follow a plan, some sort of strategy, and are in line with who you are, what you do and what you’re marketing.
This plan consists of the following 3 questions: why, what, how. Or better:
- Why do you want to do real-time Twitter marketing?
- What are you trying to market on Twitter in real-time?
- How are you going to achieve that in real-time?
Why do you want to do real-time Twitter marketing?
Have a good enough reason to perform real-time Twitter marketing. “Because everyone else is doing it” is not a valid reason, and the Oreo tweet is not a good enough justification.
So why should you market in real-time on Twitter? Ideally, your aims should cover the following:
- Acquisition: to increase your audience, community and customers;
- Retention: to keep (and in a way “nurture”) your existing audience, community and customers;
- Customer Service: to provide service to your audience, community and customers.
- Awareness: this is two-fold:
- Awareness of your strengths and presence in your industry vertical;
- (optional) To place yourself as a reputable and trusted source of related and/or interesting content (informative or humorous).
Notice how I used the words “audience” and “community” before “customers” – marketing isn’t all about selling your product, and if you currently see Twitter as only your marketplace, then perhaps it is not the right platform for you. Like I said previously, Twitter belongs to the consumer, but not everyone on Twitter will be your consumer. However, even if you’ve convinced somebody to listen to what you have to say and they then follow you, that’s one victory for you even if it doesn’t end up in a sale – never underestimate the power of goodwill and word of mouth, especially on Twitter.
What are you trying to market on Twitter in real-time?
The topic most marketers start with is tools. Your tool requirements should be based on what you actually need, otherwise you’ll find yourself shoehorning your Twitter strategy into your tool capabilities (instead of the other way around). Define your requirements, find a tool later, then adapt and refine your requirements accordingly.
Now, what do you want to listen to in real-time? Don’t limit yourself to just listening to mentions of your brand name with Google Alerts. What you want to achieve is an all-rounded view of your brand, by monitoring mentions of the following:
- Brand: this ties in with real-time reputation monitoring;
- Products and services: what do people say about what you provide?
- Estates: mentions of all your touch points, such as your website (e.g. mentions of its UX and UI) and your apps (e.g. their performance);
- Vertical: monitor your industry as a whole – are there are any innovations you need to be aware of? Anything your competitor is doing that you’re sure your followers will ask you about?
Additionally, you can also keep an eye on competitor monitoring, to listen to mentions of your competitors, where they lack (to see if you can step in) and where they excel (for your learning curve).
How are you going to achieve that in real-time?
Now that you’ve got the theory figured out, it’s time to deal with the practical side of things – how are you going to achieve real-time marketing on Twitter?
- Adequate tools to listen: whether it’s free or paid, make sure your tool meets your requirements. Ideally go for something that has publishing integrated, so you can monitor AND respond in real-time . There are several tools out there, and I’m a strong advocate of quite a few of them, but I’ll be the first one to tell you that (A) free tools can do the job, but what you don’t pay with a tool you may pay with accuracy, strength or sometimes reliability, and (B) a tool doesn’t make your marketing perfect, but it can definitely help you make it better;
- Response strategy: not everything needs a reply. In fact, not everything you see needs to be acknowledged. Know how to react in different cases (e.g. a genuine enquiry vs. trolling), and know how to react if you come across an irrelevant tweet, e.g. spam that happens to mention your brand’s name. Make sure you have flexible guidelines, but not fixed rules;
- Stay ‘in the know’: if this article were entitled “real time marketing on social media” then I’d tell you to do your research on where most people talk about you and where your customers are. However, this article is mainly targeted to Twitter, so this is assuming that you already do have a presence on Twitter (or at least you’re planning to). Despite knowing that, you should still be aware of what hashtags may be used in relation to your brand, products and services;
- Traffic: one thing that gets rarely talked about is social traffic – that too is part of your real time marketing. Who shares your site online? You can easily see who shares your site content by doing a search for your domain – so to see people sharing content from Link Humans on Twitter you’d do a search for “linkhumans.com” and you’ll see, in real time, people sharing your content.
- Identify what you want to “listen” to in real-time;
- Set up queries accordingly on your tool of choice (this could be anything from a free tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, to a premium tool like Brandwatch);
- When you see a mention that is in line with your action plan, engage accordingly.
It doesn’t end here:
The why-what-how list doesn’t end here – it’s not a linear, but a cyclicar routine: your real-time marketing should feed in in your usual marketing routine and vice versa.
Once you’ve got the answers to those 3 questions – why, what, how – you’re ready for real-time Twitter marketing.