Marketing on Twitter continues to be one of the most talked about subjects in social media today. The social media purists still sing campfire songs about how you can't do it. Dell is up to $6.5 million dollars in sales there. While I strongly believe there is no right or wrong way to use Twitter â€” you can find an audience for anything on any medium with a certain level of critical mass â€” I believe Twitter to be a mainly conversational platform.
With that, I have noticed four major types of marketing styles emerge among those using Twitter as a marketing platform, each with examples of large followings, audiences and (probably) successes. My description of each has personal observations included, but keep in mind I don't offer these up as criticisms as each can work, depending upon your audience. That said, consider these as styles you may choose to use in your Twitter marketing efforts.
Twitter Marketing Styles
Conversationalists are users who clearly have a reason to use Twitter for their business, but seem more apt and willing to participate in the daily chitter-chatter rather than carve out clear drives or calls to action for their business purpose. Many independent consultants and/or thought leaders fall into this category. Does Geoff Livingston's new agency, Zoetica, benefit professionally from his Twitter presence? Certainly. Does he often intermix links or sales messages for Zoetica's services? No. His Twitter involvement is as a genuinely interested participant in the conversation. The professional benefit is less direct and trackable, but, rest assured, it's there.
The Conversational Marketer
Varying slightly from the Conversationalist, the Conversational Marketer has a more obvious, even stated, purpose for using Twitter. Perhaps they link to their own blog posts with more frequency. Maybe they regularly remind you about an e-newsletter or their book. But they still participate in conversations with regularity, even lapsing into a let-your-hair-down approach to the extent you forget they're using the network for their business. A good example of this is Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. He's as approachable and engaging as anyone, but a quick glance at his latest 20 tweets while I wrote this showed no fewer than six links to ProBlogger.net posts, four to new job posts on his job board and two to his personal blog. Some people would consider that level of self-promotion spammy. Darren is anything but, however, and his audience loves every link.
Crossing the 50 percent threshold to being mostly promotional with less conversation is the salesman. Now, some in the social media space would say this type of person is disingenuous to the social media audience. I disagree. There are lots of companies and even people on Twitter who sell first, but do engage, provide interesting links and other nuggets of value in their approaches. Michael Stelzner is a good friend of mine and the man behind Social Media Examiner (@smexaminer), a very well done blog (he calls it an online magazine, I call it a blog) on social media. The Twitter account, however, is a sales-first pitch for the website and affiliated learning opportunities that are apart of it and Michael's business. While this type of approach may not be popular among the social media purists set, there's always an audience for a sales-driven Twitter account that has a good product on the other end of it.
The Spammer Broadcaster
I hesitate to use the term “spammer” here, but it is appropriate. Please know I don't use the term with these accounts as a criticism, per say. It's a statement of fact, based on their streams, they self-promote almost exclusively and do not appear to participate in conversations (RT, @ replies, etc.). HOWEVER, I don't necessarily think this is bad. For instance, George Stephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) appears to fall into the category of no conversations and ABC News pimp. But 1.6 million people dig that stuff. While that may be a bad example because he's a celebrity, there are companies out there who have thousands (or more) of fans who would gladly take the spam to get a coupon, find out about new product releases and more. One example I use below is a Raffertys restaurant in Louisville. It's all spam, but I follow it in case they have a good drink special or something going on when I'm interested in a local deal.
So where do you fall in your Twitter approach? Are you solidly in the court that the first two are okay but the other two aren't? Are you in the second two and have business metrics to prove your approach works? Tell us your story in the comments and let us know the good and bad in your approach. If you haven't defined an approach yet, tell us which you think you should take and why.
The comments, as always, are yours.