Have you considered segmenting your Twitter strategy?

Posted on October 17th 2009

I had an illuminating discussion with Delphine Remy-Boutang (@DelphRB), who is a social media marketing manager at IBM. She has run some successful social media campaigns and has pulled together some great slides evangelizing the use of social media for B2B marketing.

One of these presentations contained the following Twitter strategy:


(Credit for the information on this slide goes to Ogilvy)

There can be some real advantages for segmenting your Twitter strategy along these lines:

  • You can micro-manage your audience (eg. customers only see product release information, and not events aimed at prospects)
  • You can task different parts of the organization with running separate channels
  • You may choose different Twitter tools and clients based on the audience (eg. event coverage could be handled through Tweetdeck whereas you might want in-depth social media monitoring tools for crisis management)

I'd say there are some caveats around this approach. The biggest being that this only really makes sense in larger organizations. If you have a smaller ecosystem or there's only a few of you to manage Twitter, you may just want one handle that pulls all these functions together. In this case segmentation doesn't make sense.

Another issue to be wary of is ending up with silos for each of these segments. There may be instances where you need to cross-pollinate and share information. For instance, what happens when customer support questions end up being directed to the Product Promotion channel? You need to have an effective way of routing these Tweets back through to the support organization. This problem isn't confined to just this strategy or Twitter, but rather a larger problem symptomatic of our markets turning into conversations.  It is often marketing departments who monitor these conversations, but marketing may not be best-placed to engage. Organizationally, we need to resolve these problems if we are to effectively communicate in these emerging channels.

For me the strongest message implicit in this strategy is this: we shouldn't just think of a Twitter channel of another way of broadcasting our marketing messages. Sure, this is one facet of Twitter communication, but there is a much wider picture which we need to take into account.

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Daryl Pereira

Following an initial degree in the humanities and social science, I spent time as a journalist working in Goa around 1995. At this time I realised the potential impact of the internet for the cheap distribution of information and what this might mean. The one thing I didn
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Posted on October 17th 2009 at 11:33AM
Think this is a really good idea. I run web strategy for the company I work for and think that this has got some legs on it, even for a small company like mine.

Works great for Digg.com

Posted on October 18th 2009 at 5:05PM
For entrepreneurs, woman owned businesses, diversifying Twitter strategy makes sense.
Posted on October 20th 2009 at 12:13AM
Segmenting Twitter makes real sense, especially for large organizations and universities, but even small companies with limited offerings can benefit from a focused effort to better reach specific audiences.
Posted on October 20th 2009 at 3:21AM
Daryl - thoroughly agree and it is a big help to set the issue out formally in this way. I would say, from experience, that segmenting should not be the default, however. Tweeting takes a lot of time, and if it can be achieved by a common Twitter identity, shared by a number of people, it saves a lot of time.

On the other hand, there is sometimes justification for increased segmentation, ie within the section 'issue advocacy'. If there are two distinct issues that a company/brand wants to get involved in, it may be beneficial to split them out. There is a productivity cost, but the two issues may be separate enough to warrant it.

Great post - thanks for bringing this to our attention


Posted on October 21st 2009 at 8:43AM

Very interesting to see a process driven approach to b2b twitter.  Up until now, I have not been putting to much thought into who I follow, although i do try to make my tweets relevant.




Posted on October 23rd 2009 at 6:57PM
This comment is for Bob who asked (as someone new to Twitter) how to do the segmenting...

In truth, the segments are not all that mutually exclusive. This matrix primarily speaks to how you can use Twitter and, secondarily, who you will be speaking to:

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Customer Relations:

Your customers can be searched by name, but you may have problems knowing if the John Brown that you found is your customer – or not find your John Brown because he is JayBrown on Twitter. However, you can still do pretty well with a Twitter People search. The other approach is to actively promote your Twitter presence through other means so that your customers proactively follow you.


Potential customers can be promoted to via your website and other outreach mechanisms. You can also find them by doing searches on content and geography (if location is important). Content and geography associated with user accounts can be done through various Twitter search tools. You can also search directly on Twitter using your product / company name to see if people are tweeting about you – or search on your product category to determine who is interested in what you are promoting. Also try putting a hashtag (#) in front of your product category to see if there is are people who are regularly tweeting about your product category. For example, #CRM is being used for people who are interested in CRM software.


Crisis Management:

Crisis Management is usually an infrequent event. You should have found many of the people you need to follow when you implemented your Customer Relations and Corporate Reputation Management programs. In a crisis, you will want to tweet to customers, potential customers, industry leaders, news media people and interest groups. You could do a search on your company name the day that a crisis breaks and quickly try to follow those people, but it will be tough to implement something like that when you have a big crisis on your hands. You should focus on tweeting to your followers, DM’ing (Direct Messaging) those that have a lot of followers or who seem particularly negative, and re-tweeting people who are supporters.


Corporate Reputation Management:

Industry leaders can often be identified through blogs, conference speakers’ lists, authors, etc. and then found on Twitter through a People search. The area of “news media” is a little broad, but editors, columnists, etc. who cover your industry can be best identified offline – then found though Twitter’s People search.  The same is true for industry / interest groups. Also remember that influential bloggers, not just the mainstream media, should  be found and their Twitter accounts identified.


Event Coverage:

Just like with any product promotion, everyone should be tweeted about upcoming events. However, you can go a step further and ask for Twitter account names when someone shows interest in an event or actually signs up. Then, create a Twitter account just for that event and have these people follow your Twitter event account. Also, have every event description or online registration form have a “Tweet this” button, making it easy for people to share their enthusiasm.


Product Promotion & Sales:

Again, tweet to the customer and potential customers that you are following (and who are now following you) about product promotions and sales. However, if you have a direct sales force, encourage your sales reps to have their own Twitter accounts and follow their own customers and prospects. A personal tweet helps keep the human element alive and the follower might even DM (Direct Message) the sales reps asking for more information.


Issue Advocacy:

Issue Advocacy is really the not-for-profit version of promotion, sales, and support. However, some organizations are both looking for money from donors and looking for volunteers (think Big Brothers / Big Sisters ).  They need money to keep the organizations going and volunteers to deliver their services, but  the donors and the volunteers are different people.


Posted on October 28th 2009 at 7:47PM
Interesting thought about segmentation. We got hung up on the execution side. At the end you want to not only segment your Twitter followers but all your relationships. You may want to check XeeSm. There is a first peak into SRM (Social Relationship Management) actually tomorrow @ Customer Think


Posted on January 27th 2011 at 8:39AM

Twitter is indeed a powerful social tool that can be really helpful in creating a fan-base for your particular product or just a community for your business, but it can also work against you if you have no technical knowledge of how things run on the internet. Of course I'm talking about some businesses' favorite tactic, online defamation. They stain your reputation through smear tactics and then steal all your clients. I did a bit of research and found this website called Rexxfield (http://www.rexxfield.com/). They specialize in solving these kinds of problems so I highly recommend them.