Social media marketing is an essential and low cost form of marketing for small business, with one of the most affordable and high ROI options being the micro publishing service Twitter.
As a service that has been “traditionally” viewed as a platform for 140-character bites of content, Twitter provides the best conduit for professional conversation-making online as well. When we consider the fact that word of mouth marketing is the single most influential sales factor in many consumer and enterprise industries, it’s easy to realize that a great presence on Twitter is essential for a business’ success in 2013 and onwards.
While your typical Twitter activities probably include posting a link to your latest content on your website including blog posts, research, case studies, or any other type of content marketing, many small business owners and managers have yet to realize the potential that Twitter provides for in gathering new clients, building your company’s professional authority, and constructing a vast, healthy network of inbound links to elevate SEO and traffic to your website.
Think conversations, not 140 character serial publishing
The first step towards this comprehensive and holistic approach in word of mouth marketing online is realizing that these types of services must be about conversations and not simple 140 character bites of our own content all day long. When we think about Twitter as a link-generating, conversation-buzzing platform, it’s easier to understand how this digital medium is really just like word-of-mouth marketing in the “real” world.
To this end, we really tell our clients to tweet about everything. Instead of thinking about how you can share 10 links to your website in a single day, start by framing various conversations that you think would be helpful in generating new clients, sales and more. Use hashtags and reach outs to other individuals or organizations on Twitter often. Did you mention a great company or vendor in your most recent piece of content? Mention them through the @username function and there’s a great chance that your shout out will be continuously shared from their own feed as well. Do you have a question for a competitor or colleague that you think might fascinate your followers or potential clients if it were on Twitter? Ask away! The possibilities here are endless: simply think about creating helpful and enriching conversations, not necessarily pure 140 character micro-publishing. As you may realize from our research this past month, the entirety of these techniques all fall under the umbrella of content marketing and link building–the gold standard in digital marketing–as well.
Here’s an example of this technique that helped BWD earn a new tweet on the @KISSmetrics feed, definitely giving our traffic a healthy boost of inbound traffic (and of course, search engine “juice.”)
While Facebook certainly fosters conversations to a certain extent as well, it’s quite often the case that professional industries interact at a much quicker, and more detailed pace on Twitter thanks to its purely chronological nature, as opposed to Facebook’s more popularity-based distribution system through the news feed.
Calculating your social media ROI
While some may argue that tracking social media ROI is near impossible we argue that those types of agencies and individuals just aren’t doing their jobs very well. An analytics systems like KISSmetrics and others actually can pinpoint where social media users come from, how long they stay, when they come back, where they go from your website, how many dollars they spend, and more. If you can’t calculate social ROI with a tool like that, then we hate to say it, but your marketing team is just plain lazy.
Take a look at KISSmetric’s great infographic on tracking the ROI for social media here, and then read through our article about how analytics tools like this are essential to successful tracking of your investment in social media and other digital marketing.
TweetDeck for ease, scheduling, & more…
We love tweet scheduling on TweetDeck since it allows us and our clients to efficiently keep conversations moving all day long!
As small business owners, we often find that the task of social media marketing falls on managers or other employees who have a flurry of additional tasks to complete each day as well. As a result, we’re constantly looking for new ways in which our clients’ social media marketing efforts can be further streamlined and made more productive. Right now, TweetDeck blows all other competitors out of the water when it comes to ease, streamlining with Twitter (since they’re now a subsidiary), and a slew of productivity features. We find that the user interface in TweetDeck for the web allows us to beautiful and easily manage multiple accounts, scheduling, conversation making, and more.
TweetDeck uses a series of columns to help you organize your Twitter marketing efforts. Our best setup of columns include from left to right: our main timeline to track new conversations by the accounts that we follow on Twitter, our mentions column to track anyone including the @BWDinc Twitter handle, a complete list of our own Tweets to see what areas we’ve already hit for the day, week, etc…, our very important “Interactions” panel to track who’s just followed, favorited, and retweeted us, and finally (our favorite) an entire column listing our scheduled Tweets for the future.
We think the user interface (UI) for TweetDeck is the best out there for Twitter account management.
The multiple accounts feature on TweetDeck easily lets us track these same pieces of data for any account, in any type of layout we’d like as it’s super simple to rearrange columns in TweetDeck as well. Creating new Tweets is always a breeze, and we can schedule them to appear at anytime in the future. TweetDeck is also a great tool to easily delegate work to a social media or community manager, or even to work easily alongside an agency like ours. For example, checking in on the scheduled Tweets for the day will easily let us and our clients know exactly what topics are being pursued so that duplicate work is never distributed. Plus, we can easily track and respond to their reception and success via the same panel throughout the day as well.
Disqus will track every tweet that includes your content’s web address!
Topsy + Disqus for tracking and analyzing
You may be surprised to know that the enhanced commenting system we include as a standard part of each of our clients’ projects is actually one of the best tools for not only tracking conversations on Twitter about your content, but for generating new ones as well. To check this out, scroll down to your Disqus comments section (don’t have them yet?! give us a shout and we’ll get them up asap) and click on the link next to “X Comments” that says “X Reactions.” Of course in this case “X” implies any number.
We also love using Topsy to do further tracking and research on the conversations that are relevant to any one of our projects. Check out Topsy.com to get started and search for any hash tag, phrase, URL, domain, or username. For example, we simply enter our base domain into the search bar to look up any mention of a link from our domain on Twitter:
Be sure to not include an ending forward slash ( / ) so that any address on your domain is included in this kind of Topsy search.
After some quick research on Topsy, you’ll find that hashtags are essential to ensure you’re not lost in the outskirts of the Twitterverse. You’ll also note that the tweets with the highest engagement rates are those that both promote your own content, but simultaneously provoke greater conversations as well.
Topsy is also great for tracking conversations of your brand that may not include your Twitter username or even web address. This can be done through the domain search we discussed above, through a simple search of your brand’s keywords, and more.
For “high volume” Tweeters: Buffer
We absolutely love Buffer for its beautiful user interface, its truly innovative feature set, and the way it helps us tweet and build conversations on social networks more productively.
We stumbled across Buffer a few months ago but only recently upgraded to their great $10/month “Awesome” package (the free version only allows up to 10 buffered posts) to achieve the full effects of the service. Ideal for those brands that tweet 5 times or more per day, Buffer allows users to set specific times to release Twitter posts throughout any type of 24 hour schedule after having funneled as many tweets as you’d like into your “buffer.” The app’s great Chrome extension allows us to quickly create a tweet about anything in our browser, while consequently queuing up a bunch of tweets without having to schedule a bunch of specific times for each day in the future. Just buffer and go!
What’s great is that Buffer can also publish Facebook page updates as well, even in an image format. Other social networks included are LinkedIn, Facebook personal profiles, and more, alongside great ease in picking and choosing which profiles each buffered post should go to. We’ve set up a unique schedule for @bwdinc on Twitter throughout the day on weekdays (check it out to the right here), and just twice on the weekends. So far, we love it for its ease and maneuverability. Plus, their simple analytics add a layer of insight that we just haven’t seen in another service of this type yet! In short: we highly recommend Buffer for “add and leave it” ease in sharing on social networks.
At the end of the day the best guidance that our team can provide yours is to think of Twitter as a complex, almost “breathing” system of real conversations. Imagine the best minds all in one room, and how you could best approach these individuals and organization to enhance your own conversations and professional authority. While many companies prefer to outsource the entire process to an agency like ours, the process of link building and authority building through Twitter is certainly manageable by small businesses of all types as well.