I’m embarrassed to admit that I am a very late adopter to Twitter. In fact, I opened my first account about 2 weeks ago. What motivated me to join the world of Twitter was when I saw the story on financial news that several companies including Facebook are looking to purchase Twitter for somewhere between 8 and 10 billion dollars. Well, numbers like that certainly get my attention. Also, as someone who is very passionate about Search Engine Optimization and Social Media, I had to get on the wagon.
As my use of Twitter grows and I mature as a Twit, Tweeter, what are we called? Anyway, my insight will most certainly grow. Even in my limited use to date, I have been very amazed at the tool from a number of different fronts. Below are a few of my observations of the tool and how it can complement your company’s marketing strategy.
Without a doubt, Twitter is a great way to extend and enhance your brand. By using your company name as your twitter name and your company logo as your profile picture, the more you tweet, the more your brand is in front of very targeted customers. I say very targeted because the potential customers are your followers and they follow you because what you talk about is interesting to them. Then, there’s the subject of retweeting. If one of your followers retweets one of your tweets, your company name is now in front of all of their followers (and so on). The more respected you become in the Twitter community, the more brand equity you gain.
Tied to brand awareness, Twitter also provides the vehicle to establish your company as a thought leader in the field. In a very real-time way, you can now respond immediately to the news of the day, provide quick original ideas, and provide links to relevant information. As respect for you and your ideas grows, your followers look to you as their initial point of information. In consulting, we call this the trusted advisor relationship. In marketing, we call this a high conversion rate.
Content distribution channel
This is an area where I feel certain companies overuse Twitter. Twitter is a phenomenal medium to distribute links to original articles and blog posts that you and your company creates. Given the ability to easily retweet, your content can be in front of thousands of eyes fairly quickly. This complements SEO very nicely. Where search engines are very much a "pull" operation (users are search for something in your content that interests them), using Twitter for content distribution is very much a "push" action (We know this will be interesting to the users).
If your followers stick with you and you are successful at establishing yourself as a thought leader, you now have a very loyal group that is at least interested in what you have to say. This group of people has a high conversion rate when approached with sales or marketing messages. This could take the form of an invite to a seminar or webinar. This could also take the form of more direct transactional behavior as well. The key here is that this cannot be seen as your primary use of Twitter (even if it is). You need to be seen as a thought leader and contributor to the overall community first. If this timing is not done properly, not only will you not be successful in sales, but you may see your followers start to dwindle.
Search Engine Optimization and traffic generation
My final observation is that, if for no other reason, involvement in Twitter is essential as part of your overall Search Engine Optimization strategy. This is a bit controversial because many very smart people believe that Twitter, although important for reasons similar to the one I’ve listed above, does not materially contribute to SERP rankings. On the surface, I guess they’re right. It’s still unclear how much weight the Google search engine gives to what it crawls on Twitter.
I like to think of it another way, though. If Twitter is a major content distribution channel and retweeting gets your content in front of many eyeballs, then it is probable that your content or links to your content will appear on other blogs and sites thereby improving the number and quality of backlinks. This behavior obviously helps with SEO ranking. Also, the end goal of a sophisticated Search Engine Optimization strategy is traffic to your site and content. Once again, through the ability to so easily retweet, if done properly, targeted traffic from Twitter may rival similarly targeted traffic from Google.
There is still more to learn, but I have been very impressed in the technology and how different users and companies use it. I would recommend that, as part of an overall social media strategy, a company should look to have a nice balance among the 5 topics listed above. This will keep and attract followers while at the same time improve the ROI on your social media and SEO investment.