Social Media Science: The Five W’s of Twitter Marketing

by Eric Tsai

Social Media Science: The Five W’s Of Twitter Marketing

If you’re doing any kind of Internet marketing you know the importance of fact gathering especially if you’re just starting out investing time, money and resources in social media. We’re now well into the “early majority” phase of social media, it’s time to take a look at some interesting data for a peak behind the social media curtains.

When strategizing your marketing campaign it’s critical to give yourself the highest chance of success. And by that I mean taking meaningful actions from reliable data not just making assumptions.

The “medium” is no longer the message, just habits and channels.

The message, in fact, IS the message.

The Five W’s (and one H) of Twitter

Twitter is probably one of the most talked about social media platform amongst marketers. However; business owners tends to have unrealistic expectations of what it actually can do so let’s focus on the 5 W’s and one H of Twitter.

Since insights don’t announce themselves, I’m going to use the reports from Edison Research, Hubspot, Dan Zarrella and Pew Research to illustrate my points.

These are organized information that can be very useful to help generate insights about your target and the technology they use.

When you have more than just organized data you can make better informed decision on where to allocate your time and resources for your marketing efforts while stimulating new ideas.

Why Tweet

People love to use Twitter to update their personal or professional lives as well as to comment on a relatively wide range of topics. And here is what people like to talk about on Twitter:

what people use twitter for statistics

Although location-based tweets and links to videos are the least commonly mentioned, I suspect that they’ll catch up soon with better, faster and cheaper devices and access to Internet.

Why people follow people?

Another interesting data from Dan Zarrella’s research reveals a list of names you can call yourself to get more followers than the average Twitter account.

Twitter bio words

No surprise here because people naturally like to follow authorities that “appears” to have some sort of influence.

Who Tweets

Despite its popularity, Twitter has yet to go mainstream. But it’s still interesting to see who is using Twitter to identify the demographic should you decide to focus on this channel.

To my surprise there are actually a much higher percentage of African Americans and Hispanics use Twitter than whites.

According to Pew Research, “8% of online adults said they do use Twitter—with 2% doing so on a typical day. This survey also showed that 74% of American adults are internet users, meaning that the Twitter cohort amounts to 6% of the entire adult population.”

Twitter user demographic group

HubSpot’s report also pointed out that 40% of the top 20 Twitter locations in January 2010 are outside North America.

In fact, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science also confirmed the diversity of Twitter users.

The interesting part of it is that Twitter seems to self-segregate around topics and issues with different ethnic groups. So instead of bringing people together in new and innovative ways via technology and Internet, people are more divide as a result.

Another fascinating data about Twitter users is that they tend to be more educated with higher household income which can be cross referenced via data from Edison Research.

Twitter users education

Twitter user income level

For those targeting market segments that are well educated with money, Twitter is definitely worth a look.

The next piece of attractive data is valuable specifically for businesses:

  • 42% of Twitter users wish to learn about products and services
  • 41% already provide opinions about them
  • 28% want discounts and offers and 21% claim to purchase products
  • 19% are using Twitter for customer support

Twitter users  follow brands

If you want to generate some new top-line revenue for your business, you would likely focus on new customer attraction and Twitter is a great place to start. And to do so you should consider putting together a promotional program with discounts to attract those deal hunters.

However; if your goal is to build long term relationship with your customers who will want to keep buying from you, tread carefully before you start tweeting discounts to one-time customers who will never pay full-price.

Knowing your customer on Twitter can greatly increase the effectiveness of your Internet marketing campaign especially when combined with direct response marketing tactics.

Once you know who you’re talking to you just have to find them using a combination of Google and Twitter search, a technique I’ve outlined in this post: How to Use Google and Twitter to Find Your Customers.

What to Tweet

Ahhh…the $54,000 question of what do people tweet? What should you tweet? Well, it really depends on why you’re using Twitter for what purpose.

For this we turn to another Dan’s awesome research on what to tweet to get the most retweet “scientifically.”

what to tweet

What I like about these data is that it provides a solid starting point to craft your Twitter campaign. Needless to say that in marketing “everything is a test” so make sure you are sending out interesting, relevant tweets that communicates value.

When to Tweet

If you’ve done email marketing, you know the importance of timely delivery. It’s about being at the right place at the right time and this applies to Twitter as well.

According to HubSpot’s report, the best day to tweet is Thursday and Friday while the best times to tweet are 3 -5 pm as well as 9 – 11pm Eastern Time.

Twitter tweets distribution by hour

Twitter tweets distribution by day

I’ve personally seen traffic statistics that agrees with those days and times.

Again like the W for “what to tweet,” time to tweet serves as a good foundation to start sending out your well crafted tweets.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean you won’t get retweets or clicks during off peak hours, you just have less traffic to engage with but it also means less competition.

Similar to how often you check your emails, how frequent Twitter users check their tweets also reveal the fact that half of the Twitter users NEVER check their streams which means there is a high chance that they simply won’t get to read majority of your tweets.

Twitter user checking tweets

That doesn’t mean you can’t keep “pushing” out messages. In fact, Guy Kawasaki tweets every minute of every hour of everyday, with repeat tweets too! That seems to be working for him so make sure you have a way to measure and track your retweets and clicks like how you would track your website statistics with Google Analytics.

You can start with free tools like Hootsuite or TweetDeck.

Where to Tweet

Much like the diversity we see in who’s tweeting, the location of where people are tweeting is relatively proportional.

Twitter self reported locations

Location can be a key piece if you’re business requires foot traffic such as retail stores, restaurants or if you’re selling to a specific geographic. Its just another metric to keep your eyes on and overtime you may see a trend developing that’s worth conducting another split testing.

How People Tweet

According to Twitter’s own blog post “The Evolving Ecosystem,” 16% of all new users to Twitter start on mobile now.

Besides Twitter app for mobile devices such as the iPhone and BlackBerry being the most popular ways to access Twitter, third-party apps make up 14% of all unique Twitter users.

top 10 twitter apps

Again this is in line with Twitter users being educated with high household income. I fully expect more mobile usage out of Twitter and more integration efforts from brands to cultivate this dynamic channel.

The take away: Twitter is like a huge chat room (or a big party) with people talking about different things. And people can choose from a variety of interesting conversations on Twitter with different purposes.

Like all decisions in business you must first identify your desire outcome before you jump in. A clear well-defined business and marketing objectives will bring clarity to unrealized assumptions.

And assumptions in marketing should be based on relevant data that can help you connect to your customer’s needs and desires in an attempt to reveal more about how people want to feel rather than just what they think.

Simply put, most of us just won’t come out and say how we feelabout everything in life and this applies to how we buy as well.

We buy base on how we feel not just what we think, it’s a constant battle between the two during the decision making process.

If you want to build a long term relationship with your customers, focus on relationship not just triggering the buy button.

And Twitter is another great platform to cultivate that relationship.

Why are you interested in using Twitter for marketing? Why do you believe you’re better invested there than in other channels of marketing?

I have no doubt that there will be more bright shiny objects like Twitter to come alone in the future but the critical element remains the same: identify the “Five W’s” (and one H) first: why, what, who when, where and how.

At the end, social media is just push marketing with the ability for the other side to push back.

Further Reading

Comments Closed


  1. Divena   •  

    Very useful statistics, I was surprised by the demographics table, interesting to see that more women use twitter than men, My followers are mostly men, so I´ve thought they dominate twitter. As I tweet in german most of the times my real followers are about 10-20 people, so I couldn´t use twitter for a marketing strategy. But for english twittering people it is more important. As John Chow wrote in his blog – he makes an average 400 $ per affiliate-product only via twitter!
    Greetings from Peru, Divena

  2. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    The demographic and the data is just a starting point, you can test with multiple accounts, tweet at different times, language but always focus on content effectiveness.

  3. Debbie @ Happy Maker   •  

    Great infomation about twitter. You know i have been trying to figure out how to use it for my site and you gave me what i need. Thanks many bunches.

  4. Vickie   •  

    Stellar Post

    The information in this post I would have paid for. It is great to see someone break down the importance of twitter in such an easy manner. It has helped me tremendously.



  5. Arthur   •  

    Awesome post. Great information on Twitter and it’s demo.

  6. Ángel Guzmán (#Cubs) lanzó desde el montículo. A mediados de marzo realizará un juego simulado. Tiene un año inactivo por lesión de hombro

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