This is the second post in our series of how to effectively use Twitter in your B2B campaigns. The first introduced you to Twitter and its buzzwords. This post is another of our famous Process Description series. If you read our How to Run a Social Media Marketing Campaign, you will already know that these Formal Process Descriptions are designed around the Continuous Process Improvements mantra of Think, Plan, Do, Measure and Repeat. You may not kick-off your Twitter usage in high gear after reading this, or even set off on an optimal path; but if you follow the ideas outlined here, you will get better and better with each iteration.
Part 1 of the Formal Description, this post in other words, covers the Thinking and Planning parts of the Process cycle, Part 2 focuses on the Do, Measure and Repeat sections and concludes the series. It will be available on Monday 10th of May.
Without any further ado, then, lets put on our thinking caps.
There are 6 questions to answer while contemplating your B2B Twitter campaign.
1) What do you want to achieve using Twitter?
2) Who are you?
3) Who is your target audience?
4) What will you tweet about?
5) For the subjects you pick in (4), what will your stance on them be?
6) What tools will you use to do all this with?
And one thing to remember all the time:
7) Always think twice before you hit the tweet button.
What are your Twitter Objectives?
For most of us this is easily stated: drive traffic to the site. But for some it may be to improve support, increase awareness of an issue, promote an event like a webinar, etc. The important thing here is not what it is, it’s that you both recognize it and state it clearly, and then define metrics you can use to measure it. (More on this below). You can have more than one objective, but in my book more than three means you aren’t sure what you really want to do.
Who are you and what’s your Twitter Brand?
First decision is who will tweet? You, or you and others, others only, executives, the CEO? In some ways, the more the merrier, but the loss of control that too many people bring to the fold is a little scary. As with anything important, choose carefully and get total buy-in from the designated tweeters.
The next step is to decide about your company’s Twitter Brand, or Personality. You can tweet everything and anything, or you can establish a Twitter Persona for your Company (a brand) and then tweet only items likely to resonate with your brand’s followers.
I feel it’s unlikely that my B2B followers are really interested in what I ate for breakfast; but they probably are interested in B2B marketing, or Inbound Marketing Automation, the subjects for which Gossamar is a thought-leader. So I stick mostly to this subject matter. Occasionally, I tweet something about me to add a little personality to our brand. Often these tweets concern items of interest to me personally, but one of the easiest ways to liven up your tweets is by inserting a little of YOU into each one in the form of a definitive stance on the subject. Give some attitude! If you’re an opinionated person like me, you can rant or rave about a news flash you’re tweeting and thus leave your audience in no doubt as to where you stand on the issue. Don’t worry about being a little controversial – part of what makes a tweet re-tweetable is that it might stir the pot a little.
But remember the Think Twice part before you tweet. Don’t contravene laws (like libel, for example), and of course, representing your company as you are, you will behave at all times with sensibility and decorum, right? You can pound the desk and curse some idiot out loud, but when you tweet, you tweet as if the boss was reading each one (probably is and should be).
Who is your Twitter Audience?
For a B2B tweeter, this should be the same people you aim your website at. It won’t quite stay that way as you develop followers including, inevitably, the spammy ones. To develop a following you can search for like-minded groups, subjects of interest in Twitter itself and then follow them. Chances are they will follow you, too, especially when you start tweeting things they find interesting.
What about those tools, like TweetAdder and TweetWhistle for adding tweeters to follow in the hope they’ll follow you? If you haven’t heard of these “bot” type tools, they automatically add followers to your account (people you follow) in the hope that they will return the favor and follow you.
I have the same objection to doing this as I do to accepting just any invite from someone on LinkedIn. What’s the point in having 10,000 followers on Twitter if 9,998 of them ignore your tweets? Seems to me its better to have 2 followers who eagerly await your news…
What are you going to tweet about?
If you have already formed a cohesive marketing strategy encompassing all aspects of your online marketing, including your Social Media Campaigns, the subject matter of your tweets will already be defined. The whole idea is to present a unified, holistic experience to your users built precisely around your core competency: the technology, product or service that your company markets, sells and supports. Our tweets are about Inbound Marketing, Marketing Automation, and Sales Automation. As such they cover Social Media, SEO, PPC Demand Generation, Sales and Marketing Automation and Holistic Websites. So that’s what we tweet about, blog about, write our website copy around, and design our content to suit.
Subjects which you can use well to tweet about are thus ones you know well, are thus an expert in, or ones which have entertainment value or important informational value to your followers. And the more you can provide an opinion in them, the better they will resonate with your audience. There are far too many facts out there – what we all want is information and when you add opinion to a dry fact you impart information. Your digital trust factors are important here, which is yet another reason why I try to stick to subjects I know well.
Depending on the size of your Twitter team and the sensitivity of your company to the material you will tweet, it can also be a great idea to put together a list of DO NOT Tweet subjects. Items which would jeopardize compliance factors, breach security or potentially provide an advantage to a competitor come to mind, but each company’s list will of course be different.
Lets begin with the tools you will use to run your campaign. There are literally hundreds to choose from and so I’m going to list just a few. You can try these – they work well in my Macintosh environment – or you can search on Google for Twitter Tools and find and try others. They are all free tools.
TweetDeck is great for keeping abreast of the tweets from the people you follow. You can add your LinkedIn status updates to it so you can see these flash up as they are posted.
Bit.ly is the url shortening service I use as it both keeps track of my stats for me, and it uses a 301 redirect to send people to our site when I use it to shorten a url. This means the link juice from the tweet flows to our site and not to the shortening service’s site which is what happens when they use a 302 redirect.
Hootsuite is a really neat tool which allows you to schedule tweets, have them automatically post to your LinkedIn, Facebook and WordPress blog, allow multiple people to access one twitter account and more.
Twitterrific and Tweetlink are both great iPhone apps if you want to both read and tweet from your mobile. Of course, you get these from the iTunes store.
And then there are the tools you will use as sources of information to inspire your tweets. Again, there are many sources and only you as your subject matter expert can judge the best ones to use for your purposes. You will need a Newsreader (Google Reader is quite good) but there are many packages for subscribing to an RSS feed. Set this one up carefully, and then check it each time you read it (in the Do below), because news sources these days change rapidly. The more finely tuned this list of subscriptions is, the less time you spend reading it each time you reach the do a tweet part.
Twitter Search can help you find hot topics in your area, Google Alerts are another great way to keep abreast of the latest news, and then there are all the specialized blogs and news feeds for your subject area.
Note the bias or stance (attitude) of the source. You want to read the opinions of people who agree with you so you can rave about them; but you also you want to read the opinions of those with whom you disagree so that you can rant about them.
Once you have installed the tools, set them up with your account login information and preferences, you can turn your attention to time.
When are you going to tweet? When you read the news or put aside the time to do so is less important than the act of doing it. If you’re like me and like to schedule everything in your calendar, this is the time to do that. I lump my time on twitter into the time I spend doing our Social Media marketing as to me they are an intertwined process.
And then there’s the time to submit your Tweets. Theories abound on what times are best and in my experience, for our target audience and for my followers around noon EST seems to be it. This is why Hootsuite is such a neat tool, as you can schedule tweets ahead of time for a specific time.
My nest post will begin with the Do part – the place in the process loop where you actually get to tweet! See you soon.
Bit-by-Bit # 27 from Eric.