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Why Your Twitter Marketing Strategy Isn’t Half as Clever as You Think

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Twitter bird with megaphoneSpend enough time on Twitter with an account that isn’t private and you’ll get spam tweets. Remarkably, it isn’t always random. If you’ve been thinking about using Twitter as a marketing tool, read this post before you fire up the automatic tweets.

One of the quickest ways for someone to end up blocked by me is to send out a tweet that is completely irrelevant to me, pushing a product I don’t need or can’t access. Example: US-based marketers offering discounts on goods that they don’t ship to the UK. The scattershot approach to Twitter marketing — tweeting to as many people as possible about your product in the hope that some of them might be interested — only really works for location-independent goods and services, such as e-books or music downloads.

If you’re offering anything else, like an invitation to a seminar or a discount on a cruise holiday (yes, I have had these in the past two days), your tweet is going to come across as random and annoying, especially if it was triggered because of a conversation between friends. It’s as though you have overheard a fragment of a sentence in a bar and decide to join a table, interrupt the people chatting and expound on the glories of your great new product. Actually, forget annoying, it’s downright rude.

It is no good just setting up your Twitter account to automatically reply to any tweets containing the keywords you’re targeting, you have to be smarter than that. Especially when those keywords can be used in more than one way. For example, cruise marketers? Your keyword is both a noun and a verb; it can be used in more than one way, not all related to enjoying oneself on a boat. If I tweet that I am looking forward to cruising down the M6, I’m not sailing, I’m going to be in a car. Your tweet is wasted on me.

So how to fix this? How can you market your goods and services on Twitter in a way that is both targeted on certain keywords and also relevant to consumers? First, drop the automation. At least for now. Next figure out how to pick out the right consumers. Twitter’s advanced search allows you to search for tweets on a topic from a particular location. Alternatively, you could use a third-party app such as Nearby Tweets to do the same thing.

Now that you have some rudimentary targeting, you can start tweeting again, right? No! You still need to make sure that the tweets you send are going to be relevant to the people who receive them. How to do this? I realise that some of you may have read a book about how to automate Twitter and make money in your sleep, but that not going to happen today. Not yet. First, get yourself an account on a Twitter management system such as CoTweet. It allows you to set up saved searches using the same terms as Twitter and also lets you queue up tweets for sending in the future. Even better, you can assign tweets to be followed up for later. Try this: set up a search with your relevant keywords and spend a couple of hours just placing the tweets that you think would provide the best marketing leads in the follow-up folder. Archive the rest. At the end of that little exercise, look at how many tweets are in the archive; that is how many people who may have considered your marketing tweet to be spam if you had sent them a marketing tweet.

If you are shocked at the number of irrelevant tweets you have been sending out, perhaps now might be the time to start refining your keywords. Remember that as well as adding words that you think might be relevant to your list, you can also exclude others that give a a clue that a tweet might not need a follow-up from you. Take my cruise example: along with “cruise” and “holiday” as obvious terms to include, “motorway” and “highway” are obvious words to put on the exclude list. With a little bit of tweaking, your search should get you more relevant tweets, which in turn means you have a greater chance of making a sale. Yes, the search string will look fairly ridiculous when you type it out for the first time, but at least with this approach you’re less likely to spam anyone.

So, can you fire up your automated tweeting now? I suppose so. I have always preferred a more personal approach to Twitter, and the closest I get to automatic tweeting is saving up links to be sent out at set intervals, but then I’m not selling anything. Automated solutions are great for allowing you to forget about one aspect of marketing plan while you concentrate on something else, but they will only ever be as good as the data you give them, and software can’t tell the difference between a consumer actively searching for a product or one making a complaint (hello, telecoms provider who contacted me recently). I know that there are quite a few Twitter products out there for professional marketers that can probably do everything I’ve outlined here in one package, so if you know of any, give them a mini-review in the comments.

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