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Four Styles Of Marketing On Twitter

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 — you can find an audience for anything on any medium with a certain level of critical mass — 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

Twitter Marketing - Scale of Approaches - Social Media Explorer

The Conversationalist

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.

•    @Geekmommy
•    @AmberCadabra
•    @shashib
•    @unitedlinen

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.

•    @delloutlet
•    @meijer
•    @briansolis
•    @mcdonalds

The Salesman

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.

•    @jcpenney
•    @phoenixsuns
•    @chrysler
•    @newyorker

The Spammer Broadcaster

REVISION: Thanks to Tom Webster of Edison Research and BrandSavant.com who suggested the term “broadcaster” might be more appropriate. I agree, so I changed it. Thanks Tom.

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.

•    @nbc
•    @raffbreck
•    @tide
•    @usweekly

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.

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Join The Conversation

  • Jul 14 Posted 6 years ago christinecarter

    i dont know where to put myself. haha... anyway-jebwork is right no one can dectate what or who to follow or to visit. even what to click. twitter is a social medea so deal with it. if anyone uses marketing on twitter then let them. we have no right to judge people.

  • JEBworks's picture
    Jan 21 Posted 7 years ago JEBworks Personally, I fall into the conversationalist  and "sharer" category but don't mind any of the styles. Let's remember nobody on Twitter is forced to follow anyone else. It's like people complaining about bad TV programming. There's an off button on the device and a remote to change channels. Same with Twitter. No harm done.
  • Jan 18 Posted 7 years ago NamanhHoang I wonder what I am? My tweets link to my website 90% of the time. However I always put a blurb about my personally feelings about the topic before the link. I'm assuming I'm either Conversational Marketer or Salesman.

    For example here was my last tweet:
    Saw it on Comedy Central, showing again tonight 1am. Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening: http://bit.ly/4LMCh9 via @baduku

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