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How to properly use Twitter for marketing & PR

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 blog.  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.

 

Using Twitter for Marketing & PR – A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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: Martin on Twitter.  You can also click on the people that other people are following to find more people to follow.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Caotica 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.
  6. 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.

New Social Media features for marketers to be aware of

Facebook Launches the Subscribe Button

This past week, Facebook launched a subscribe button, which allows you to choose on a user by user basis “whether you’d like to see all updates, most updates, or just important updates from another user.” It also allows you to open up your profile to subscribers who are not your friends on Facebook. 

By opening up more of its content to the public, Facebook is increasing your content’s chances of showing up in search engine results. Facebook’s subscribe option also allows individuals to grow their following and determine which content they want to make viewable to certain groups of friends or subscribers. 

Marketing Takeaway: When publishing content in social networks, make sure you are making it publicly available. This will enable your content to reach a much broader audience beyond your direct network, extending its reach. In addition, be sure you’re optimizing your social media posts and updates with appropriate keywords for your business to help it get found by searchers. This will increase the impact your social media posts have on organic search traffic to your website.

Twitter Announces Twitter Web Analytics

Twitter announced last week that it will be releasing its own official Twitter Web Analytics tool. The aim of the tools is to help “website owners understand how much traffic they generate from Twitter as well as the effectiveness of Twitter integrations on their websites.” It will allow marketers to determine:

  • How much of their website content is being shared on Twitter.
  • How much web traffic Twitter generates for their website.
  • How effective their Tweet Button integration is.

As an inbound marketer, measuring your various marketing efforts is an important element of success. Understanding what is working and what isn’t allows you to focus your energy and limited time where it can impact your business the most. 

Marketing Takeaway: Always be on the lookout for new ways to measure, and gain a solid understanding, about your marketing efforts. If you don’t already have integrated marketing analytics software that offers these types of analytics, consider one. Analyzing your marketing programs and understanding where your traffic and leads are coming from can help you improve your campaigns, do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.

SEO Twitter tips to rank better in search

Even though Google recently ended it’s Realtime Search deal with Twitter, which means Twitter’s fire hose is no longer catalogued and used in real-time search results, there’s still a good deal of SEO benefit to be gleaned from Twitter.

Basically, Twitter is a natural complement to your site and a way to gain some additional spots on organic search engine results pages (SERPs), helping your website and its content get found. So how can you best leverage your Twitter account for search? Here are 7 tips to help you get started.

1. Use Your Real Name Wisely

It’s important to note that your Twitter “Real Name” doesn’t have to be your actual name, unlike with Facebook. Instead, it can be virtually anything as long as it comes in under the 20-character limit Twitter imposes.

As such, your Twitter “Real Name” is perhaps the most important thing you can set on your Twitter profile. It appears in the title tag for both your Twitter profile and your individual tweet pages. It’s highly searchable, and it’s something that will appear in Google’s link to your profile.

This means you need to make sure your real name is both relevant to you, a keyword people are likely to search for, and something that will make people want to click.

2. Make Your Username Count

Like your real name, your Twitter username is crucial content that will be displayed in the title of your Twitter profile page and, in some cases, your individual tweet pages. Also like your real name, it can be anything you want as long as it comes in under the 15-character limit Twitter places on usernames.

It is best to use this space wisely with an easily remembered, keyword-rich Twitter username that will get the attention of anyone searching for related keywords.

It may seem like an impossible task. Fifteen characters certainly isn’t a lot to work with, but a few quick Google searches for keywords related to your site can reveal what kinds of Twitter handles are ranking well, giving you a template for success.

3. Focus on Your Bio Next

After your real name and username, your bio is the next most important thing you can edit. At 160 characters, it’s longer than a tweet, and it can be crucial to your SEO as it is both highly indexable content, and the first few words of it also appear in your Twitter page’s description.

It is important to make your bio count. Make the first few words an interesting teaser that draws searchers to click and ensure that the entire bio has at least one or two of the keywords you’re targeting.

4. Link, Link and Link Some More

To be strong in search engines, your Twitter profile needs the same thing any other site needs: lots and lots of links. Link to your profile everywhere you can, and do so with strong keywords in the anchor text.

This works well because, even though your Twitter profile is closely related to your site, it is hosted on a different domain, meaning you can pass along a great deal of trust to it from your site. This makes your links to it much more valuable.

You can further this benefit by encouraging others to link to your Twitter profile as well, such as including it in an author byline when you do guest blogging, which will improve the amount of authority it receives from search engines.

5. Get Followers, Build Recognition

Every follower you get is more than just a person reading your tweets. It’s a link to your Twitter profile on their “Following” page and possibly retweets and mentions of your profile, which also include a link to you.

Although these links are “internal” in nature (meaning they are all links from within Twitter.com), they can help you compete with other Twitter profiles that might be on the same or a similar topic, giving you an additional edge.

Since many searchers who land on Twitter profiles were doing Twitter-specific searches, this could be a very powerful advantage to have.

6. Stay Focused With Your Tweets

While it’s certainly fine and maybe even a good thing to have some fun with your Twitter account and go off-topic from time to time, you need to stay focused and regularly publish tweets that are on-topic and keyword-rich.

It’s important to remember that your main Twitter profile, in Google’s eyes, is very much like any other page with a headline, body copy, and links. As with any other page, if that content is keyword-rich, it’s more likely to be ranked well.

Keeping your tweets focused lets you keep that copy keyword-dense, giving Google exactly what it wants to see and encouraging it to rank your Twitter page higher than other, less-focused accounts.

7. Don’t Forget Your URL

While it’s true that your URL doesn’t actually pass on any SEO authority due to Twitter’s use of the “nofollow” tag, it’s still an important tool for directing the traffic your Twitter profile gets back to your site.

Since the eventual goal of any Twitter presence is to turn that traffic back to your site and your business, forgetting to use your URL is a misstep you can’t afford to make.

In the end, what separates Twitter most from your run-of-the-mill sites is that it exists in an almost-completely enclosed ecosystem. Therefore, much of your link building has to be done from within, and nearly all of your content building is done in the form of tweets.

While this might limit what you can do with Twitter in terms of SEO, it doesn’t make Twitter any less powerful as an SEO tool. It just makes it one that you have to work a little bit harder at to succeed.