What If You Tweeted and Nobody Came

5 Ways to Use Twitter (and How to Measure the Results)

Twitter seems like an echo chamber to many marketers and business executives. They feel like they’re talking to themselves because they tweet but no one responds. If this sounds like your business, you’re not alone.

In part this is because Twitter has its own special language and conventions that take time to learn. It’s not just business people who have trouble; all new users face the same hurdles. (Here’s how to get your Twitter Mojo.) According to the May 2011 Pew Internet Research, 13% of online adults use Twitter and half of these users access the service via a cell phone. Of importance to marketers, the biggest increase is the 25-44 age group.

Further hindering Twitter communications is the fact that the service is a continuous and the life of most tweets is an hour or less. In old media terms, it’s like television or radio without the ability to record and replay shows. As with traditional media, there’s a difference between people who’ve seen a tweet and those who took the related action.

Therefore, while there’s an ever growing array of Twitter analytical tools to help marketers, it’s still the early days of Twitter analytics and it’s more important to set proper business objectives and to track your results against these goals. (One of the challenges that social media faces is the fact that it tends to be seen as a test outside the normal marketing process without clear goals or related tracking.)

5 Major Twitter goals and related metrics

To help you achieve your business goals, here are five major Twitter objectives and the related metrics to assess your results.

  1. Build brand and/or influence. Use Twitter to increase your brand awareness and/or position your company through thought leadership. Ensure your tweets are inline with your brand. Make them short and quirky. Provide a steady diet of useful information for followers. METRICS: Apply traditional brand metrics to check for an improvement in brand perception and other measures (Of course, this doesn’t work as well if there are other marketing elements that you’ve changed at the same time.) Beyond basic follower counts, assess the number of retweets, types of inquiries and mentions on Twitter. Does your Twitter presence help attract prospects and/or press coverage?
  2. Distribute content. Twitter is an effective vehicle for distributing business information about blogs, videos, photographs and presentations. To aid distribution, use strong post titles and tweets that lure readers in and encourage sharing. Also, incorporate hashtags to expand your reach. Be aware that a proportion of people will retweet information about your content without reading it just because they like the title, get sufficient information from the tweet alone, or trust the person who tweeted it initially. Promotions are part of this content. Ensure that it’s trackable with tailored promotion codes and related calls-to-action. Use promotions sparingly on Twitter since it’s not well liked by followers unless you have a deal-of-the-day. METRICS: Use Tweetmeme and bit.ly to track the number of tweets. Also assess the number of visitors, pageviews and time-on-page. If the number of tweets is higher than the number of pagesviews, the information in the tweet was self-contained.
  3. Provide customer service / support. Monitor Twitter for customers who use your product and respond to questions from the public. Customers will use any communication channel available to engage with your firm. Comcast was one of the first companies to use Twitter for this purpose. To increase your ability to communicate, follow everyone who follows you. METRICS: Track the number of customer service inquiries answered, reduced customer service resolution time, and reduced product returns. Also, monitor decreased negative comments and/or increased positive feedback.
  4. Engage with prospects, customers and the public. Twitter is great platform for interacting with the public, one-to-one messaging via direct messages, and many-to-many via Twitter chats. The great part of these interactions is that they help build relationships. METRICS: Monitor the number of answers that overcome sales objections, the number and content of prospect inquiries, and reduced time-to-sale. Assess the strength of  your Twitter chat following. Does the conversation continue throughout the week via the hashtag? Do people read the transcript? Have your brand metrics improved as a result of this engagement?
  5. Be prepared for crisis management. While no one wants a PR problem, in today’s 24/7 world, you must be prepared to get your firm’s message out broadly when one flares up. Scott Monty of Ford was able to contain a PR crisis in less than 24 hours. (Read The Ranger Station Fire.) METRICS: Track crisis duration. Is your crisis or company a trending Twitter topic? Has your issue and/or lack or poor presence on Twitter become fodder for the news? Were you prepared to respond via Twitter? Scott Monty had thousands of followers, some of whom trusted and supported his efforts.

Regardless of how you use Twitter, it’s important that it supports your overall business initiatives and goals. Where possible, use targeted calls-to-action and unique promotion codes to track results more effectively. As Twitter usage continues to evolve so will your marketing and related analytics. Regardless of how you monitor your Twitter results, you’ll still need brand monitoring to ensure that you’re alerted to any potential crisis or issue.

Are there any other Twitter goals that you’d add to this list? If so, what are they and how would you suggest measuring them?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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