How to use Twitter as a marketing tool

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[tweetmeme]A few people have asked me recently how I use Twitter as a marketing tool for my own business. Which led me, naturally, to answer the question here.

Twitter has a lot of different uses, many of which come under the marketing or pr banner, but some don’t (for example as a customer service tool, an up to the minute search tool etc). My own model is a mixture of things.

1. First and foremost, to network. A huge part of what I do is about connecting with people and building relationships. Twitter is brilliant for that and opens the door to people you wouldn’t normally cross paths with. I’m not just talking about potential clients here (although that does make up a large portion of who I connect with on Twitter). You can also hook up with potential partners, industry peers, competitors (I’m sensing a gasp from you here … yes, I love to connect with competitors and swap notes. I very much live in the ‘lets all work together’ camp), potential recruits, journalists and anyone else that could be useful to you. Marketing 2.0 is all about having conversations and Twitter facilitates this perfectly.

2. As a targeted news and advice aggregator. I’ve taken it upon myself to provide a useful service to my Twitter followers. I do this by posting links to relevant news and tips from the best sources I’ve found on the web. This includes news on design and architecture and tips and advice on marketing, traditional and digital pr, social media marketing, web design and development, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, lead generation, copywriting, content marketing and anything else I think will be useful to my followers. I often ask them what topics they’d like me to cover to ensure I meet their needs … like a DJ at a wedding, I’m open to requests.

3. To send traffic to my website. Twitter is the fourth referrer to my website and the people it sends there tend to have high relevancy. I’ve worked hard to ensure I have a targeted follower list by keeping my content targeted and relevant to the people I’m trying to reach (avoiding any spam schemes and ‘add 1,000 followers a day’ stupidity also helps with this). Thus the people reading my Twitter feed tend to be the right ones for my business. I choose to use a ‘how I use twitter‘ page on my website as the link from Twitter as it helps people decide if I’m right for them to follow (and again, keeps my follower list targeted), but others use their blog or home page here. It’s a great tool for increasing traffic (and then sign ups) to a blog, but pick whatever fits with your social media strategy (What’s that you say? You don’t have a social media or Twitter strategy? Shame on you. Get in touch and I can help you with that).

4. As a real time search tool. Twitter is absolutely brilliant for finding out the latest and greatest news, tips, advice and chat on stuff. There are many search tools that allows you to do this, including: Twitter’s own search service, Twazzup, Collecta and Tweetmeme to name but four. There are others, but that’s a whole other blog post (and one to add to my list). I’m a big fan of Tweetdeck, both on the mac and iphone (fully sync’d of course). Tweetdeck allows you to create search columns so that you can keep your eye on important search terms at a glance.

5. As a research tool. Want to get some feedback on a project? Try crowdsourcing on Twitter and get some real time feedback from the twitterverse. It’s human nature to want to give opinion and Twitter folk seem very happy to do this or  join in with polls. With tools like twitpol this can be very useful.

6. To find out what’s being said about us. Twitter is a great tool to monitor what’s being said about your brand (both positive and negative). This of course gives you the chance to respond to any negative comments (in an upfront, transparent and honest way of course) and connect with your brand evangelists. This activity can sometimes highlight some interesting insights that you wouldn’t normally hear about. A very powerful tool indeed.

7. As a PR tool. There are a couple of threads to this one, but I thought I’d keep it neatly packaged under the one PR banner. I need to keep abreast of hot industry topics and key trends. Listening to what journalists and editors discuss on Twitter really helps with this and also allows me to connect with them on behalf of my clients. Twitter also helps me to spread my clients news when I tweet links to their latest press releases or articles online. If you have a great story the potential of retweets is great and can vastly increase coverage.

8. As a search engine marketing tool. Tweets are picked up by Google et al so by using keywords in tweets, they will appear in searches. These link to your Twitter feed which, as discussed earlier, links to your website or blog. Very handy.

So there you have it. This model has worked very well for me so far and is working well for my clients. Obviously Twitter is an ever changing platform with new uses for it cropping up regularly, so I make sure I stay abreast of any developments and add them if I think they’ll work for us and our clients.

If you have any other uses for Twitter I’d love to know about them here.

And finally, if you’re not already a follower, but you think my Twitter feed could be useful to you, follow me here



For those conscious souls ready to step up and serve. Suitable for established or new coaches.

  1. Neil says:

    Good article.



  2. Jacqueline Noble says:

    I agree, Twitter can be a powerful tool for marketing. If, among your followers, you even have a small number of people who are relevant to your business, you will have others who will often serve as a conduit to someone who can use your services.

  3. Jacqueline, you’re absolutely right. Those people that aren’t the usual ‘target’, but still follow you, may know others that can use you. A very useful WOM marketing activity.

  4. Lorenzo says:

    Hi, we’re an architecture/ design studio based in Brazil and are planning to expand our operations (from regional to international). My question: dealing with at least three languages, what does one do – multiple accounts (one for each language), tri-lingual tweets….

  5. Hi Lorenzo

    I’ve never had to deal with this issue, however I do feel that running a profile in each language would work well. The point of Twitter, and social media as a whole, is to open up conversation with your audience. Therefore speaking in their language is key. I think you might be able to manage two languages with one profile, however any more than that would be a little too much and may lose you followers. I would set up different profiles, but make it clear on each one there are other languages available. You can still use the same messaging on each and then pick up the conversation separately as it happens.

  6. Lorenzo says:

    Thx for the reply, and the advice.

  7. housingdabble says:

    Hi Gemma,

    Really great post and I love the idea of creating a ‘how I use twitter’ landing page for your potential twitter followers to find out what you tweet about etc.

    I’ll be sure to follow you


  8. Good to have you aboard Ben. Glad it was useful.

  9. Dear Gemma,

    It was pleasure to read your post.. I really like it and going to forward my boss 🙂

    Twitter of course revolutionized the connected term.

    @prabhakarjsr happy to follow you Thanks 🙂

  10. rollergirl says:

    Thanks for this – great post. (Found it via @VolumeGroup)

  11. Hi Gemma,

    it is now nearly a year later – just wondered if you had any further learnings on this you’d like to share or whether you’ve worked out how to quantify the ROI you get from twitter?

    Hope you’re well.

    Katie xx

  12. Gemma Went says:

    Wow, a year ago! That went quick. I feel a new blog post coming on. Thanks for the idea 🙂

    Watch this space

  13. First, thanks for the clarity with which you communicate. I found this post through a complex series of links which started with someone I follow on Twitter, led to a conference programme in which you were featured, and from there to your Twitter profile. Your Twitter landing page blew me away for two reasons.

    The first was the clarity to which I have already referred; the second was that it gently but firmly pointed out to me that I had not thought through what I was doing. So I followed the signpost to this blog entry.

    On subscribing to the blog, I immediately found something else that was timely and relevant (about attracting traffic to a blog).

    So, in the space of twenty minutes or so, I have gone from a complete lack of awareness about you and Red Cube, to finding a source of valuable information that I want to make sure I am plugged into.

    If you can show your clients how to do what you do half as well as you do it, I think they will be getting good value.

    I hope you enjoyed your holiday!

  14. Gemma Went says:

    Hi Malcolm, and thanks very much for such a lovely comment. Reading stuff like that makes it all worthwhile 🙂

    And yes, that’s exactly what I try to do with my clients.

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