Always New Mistakes

May 28, 2008

Twitter as a marketing tool

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 12:21 am

It’s been twice in a week that I’ve talked with Marketing and Communication people about using Twitter for their companies and the answer has always been NO. It really strikes me, specially because both companies are part of the Tech Industry, one of them is even a well known startup.

The response I always get about Twitter is: “We don’t use it because it’s only for early adopters and geeks“. While this has been the case until very recently, Twitter is gaining critical mass at an amazing pace. Just to throw some numbers, Twitter has a daily reach of approximately 0.1% according to Alexa. That means that 0.1% of the Internet users access Twitter each day. But, that’s not the only thing, according to Biz Stone the Twitter API gets 10x that traffic, bumping Twitter’s daily reach to a very nice 1.1%. Right now it has broken the early adopter barrier and you can start seeing a more general use of it by online users. That’s the reason I think it’s the best moment to start using Twitter as a Marketing tool.

Why is Twitter a Marketing tool? Because it allows persons and/or companies the following:

a) Give a human face to the company
b) Keep your customers up to date with the latest news of the company
c) Listen to your customers feedback
d) Interact one to one with your customers
e) Keep key influencers (tech gurus, bloggers, journalists, etc.) updated about your company
f) Brand tracking

Who should use Twitter as a Marketing tool? Not everybody of course. Twitter users have a tech profile, although this profile is being widened by other online non-tech users day by day. This is something that many old school marketers don’t grasp. Everyday the digital breach between the online and offline worlds is diminishing. Currently you can see baby boomers buying food, books or flights through the Internet. You can see them chating, emailing, commenting on forums or writing blogs. Some of them are real social network junkies. Marketers have to understand that the profile of an Internet user is becoming much more general than it used to be.

So, again, who should use Twitter as a Marketing tool? I would say that it should be used by anyone with a company that is related to the tech industry. That would be websites, blogs, newspapers, software vendors, hardware vendors, musicians, … hell, everyone that can make business through the Internet. Right now that is mostly everyone!

Why are people going to adopt Twitter? It’s very easy, Twitter is Free and Simple. The sophistication level needed to use Twitter is close to 0 for any single Internet user. It’s ease of use is one of its strongest points. Also, the need to be connected and to know what is happening in other people’s lives is something inherent to humans. Humans are curious by nature, Twitter lets you be curious about other people at a never seen scale. The best proof of this are social networks like Facebook. What’s the real value of a social network? Simple, stay connected with your friends, or in plain English, know what your friends are doing. In that sense Twitter is much simpler and faster than any social network out there. In my humble opinion, it’s just a matter of time before all the social network late adopters take over Twitter.

Finally, why do I say it’s now the best moment to start using Twitter? Well, Twitter, as what happens with blogs lets you build a big audience. And the key concept here is “build”. You can’t start using Twitter and expect a relevant audience of 10.000 users following your account. Why do I say relevant? There are many Twitter users which think that if they follow many people they’ll get followed in exchange and while it’s true that this happens (byproduct of our society, people feel bad if they are being followed but they don’t follow you back), these type of users aren’t really listening. That’s why, even though you can do that, you won’t build a relevant user base. Your messages won’t be read by the users you want. The funny part of this is that the people that follow thousands of users just to get more followers, are usually so called “Marketing experts“. That’s pretty ironic if you ask me, as they should know better. So trust me when I say that building a reliable audience on Twitter takes time and good, thoughtful messages. That’s why it’s important to start now, so that when Twitter goes mainstream your company has already a good number of followers. As they say, the more number of follower you have, the faster you’ll get new ones.

Any experience with Twitter and your company? Please share it with us! Are you a Twitter user already? Follow my Twitter user

UPDATE: I found a very good hands on example of using Twitter as a Marketing tool.



  1. Good post, Alex.

    I have read a lot about Twitter lately (the business magazine community has found it), and I am intrigued, but I find it troublesome to start up. For starters, I can’t just jump in – I need to answer the questions of “why am I doing this?” and “what is my plan?” before I make one post.

    What are your suggestions?

    Comment by henryfranke — June 16, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

  2. hehe that was the same problem I had when I first saw Twitter. I though it was kind of lame to write about what I was doing.

    Check out this post I made about Twitter some time ago.

    For me, what I like about Twitter is that you can type your questions, inner musings and anything you are thinking about there and you’ll get feedback from your followers. At first you don’t know what to write, then when something pops in your head but it’s too short for a blog post you’ll think about Twitter and post it there. 🙂

    You’ll see with time how your Twitter messages evolve from trivial things, to real day to day interesting things 🙂

    Comment by Alex Barrera — June 16, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

  3. Great post. Twitter can be a very useful tool for internet marketing pros. However, some people do it SO wrong…have you seen that someone from started Twittering? It’s one of the worst company Twitter pages I’ve read. Do it right or don’t do it at all!! I think that BAD Twittering can make a really bad impression.

    Comment by E.L. — July 18, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

  4. yep, completely agreed. It’s like in real life, if you are selling something, do it right or fade away. That’s why I think Twitter usage needs some training, so the faster you get aboard the better 🙂

    Comment by Alex Barrera — July 18, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

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  6. What do you think about the idea of “collect” twitter names in the same way than domain names as Rubia Guru suggest?

    Comment by Leo Borj — September 20, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

  7. Hi Leo, nice seeing you around 🙂

    I just commented on this issue here:


    Comment by Alex Barrera — September 22, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

  8. Oh my goodness, PlanetShoes added me on Twitter a while back, and their Twitterers (including BarryBres) are just awful. I googled “twitter planetshoes bad” to see if anyone else had written about this and this post came up. Their blog is equally as bad. It’s practically all advertisements for their brands. It’s pretty apparent that they don’t understand online marketing. When online marketing is done poorly, it’s truly cringe-worthy. I have Zappos on my Twitter friends and THEY do it right. I think I know where my shoes will come from 🙂

    Comment by Kristel M. — September 29, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

  9. Its facinating how companies were saying how Twitter is only for early adopters and geeks in 2008. Certainly has changed a lot since then.

    Comment by Jimmy Sou — May 13, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

  10. Congratulations for your marvelous article.
    If used with enough intelligence Twitter brings more new users to your website and consequently more qualified traffic. It is a wonderful tool any webmaster must use.

    Comment by Delmer A Steer — July 8, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

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