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.

4 Internet Marketing Trends For 2011

by Eric Tsai

information highway

As we’re approaching the end of the 2010 there are numerous developments with businesses using social media. I had predicted that brands will need to figure out how social fits into their overall brand strategy by identifying where the leverage is with social media and how to manage it.

Online communities are now everywhere there is access and common objectives. Even social networks are interconnected themselves pushing and pulling content across various channels.

For business owners, bloggers and marketers, we have to realize that the landscape is changing and will continue to shift towards attentive reach, not frequency.

Instead of trying to reach broad targets of demographic groups, investing in paid media we find valuable organic content becoming more powerful, ranking higher by search engines and shared by passionate communities.

Need more facts to back up the growth of social media? According to Harris Interactive:

  • 9 out of 10 (87%) online adults use social media
  • Highest percentage (22%) uses social media less than 1 hour per week
  • Highest percentage of 18-34 yr-olds (17%) uses social media 6-10 hours per week

social media usage study by Harris

It’s indicative that the evolution of social media is not just with the tools. The real “leading indicators” will be how social media gets utilized in the real world, not how marketers want it to be used.

And because we’re living in an over-communicated society with competing and conflicting information, true engagement in this on-demand world will be the biggest challenge moving forward.

I’m not just talking about getting people’s attention in marketing; I’m referring to real meaningful conversations that open up the communication channel that leads to authentic actions.

There is so much noise and deception across all media channels that it only makes sense for most people to ignore them.

Here are 4 internet marketing trends that will be maturing in the coming year:

1) The Return of Direct Marketing

The meaning of your communication is the responses you get especially on the social web where people can simply close a window, ignore a tweet or click away to other attention grabbing links.

Everyone’s got a blog, a website, Facebook page, Twitter account or Youtube Channel. So how do you stand out in a sea of sameness?

As it turns out direct response marketing is still the most effective way to test your marketing campaigns. The difference with social media is that you need to be measuring the right metrics.

It’s essentially the same concept as great salesmanship. Great marketing is great one on one sales focusing on finding out what customers want, their pain, urgency, desire and needs.

Done right you will get insights about your customers that tells you not just what they clicked on but from where, why and how. Remember, greater marketers don’t make assumptions!

Once you have meaningful data, it’s easier to craft your direct response campaign that converts better because you’ll have a list of “high quality” leads that are more likely to buy.

Without qualified leads, you’re basically playing the guessing game, driving in the dark and often a waste of time and money.

Concentrate on appealing and selling to the top 20% of the prospects that are more likely to convert. And if you can integrate your email marketing efforts with social media, you’ll gain further insights on your customer’s media habits, which can be used to optimize your next campaign.

2) The Raise of Social Metrics

Since majority of your prospective customers will not convert immediately upon getting your communication, it’s important to follow-up with email and social media because not only will you know when someone opened the email and what they’ve clicked on; you’ll also learn their social habits and sphere of influence.

The goal is to find out your customer’s “from” and “to” path to your web properties. It could be your online store, a product(s) page, your opt-in page (landing page), a sign-up to webinar or simply a Facebook page.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are my source of traffic? How much does it cost me? (time, money and resources)
  • What are the demographics (age, location, habits etc…) of my traffic? Are they on social networks?
  • What does my customers want? Do I have the same customers online and offline?
  • How much time does it take for my customers to go from the original source of traffic to my web properties? And what can I do to get them to take the action I want that aligns with what they want?
  • What social media metrics can bring clarity to the habits of my prospective customers?

There are some nice free tools out there that will provide you with social data to get you started.

One of my favorite way to view my engagement performance is using Hootsuite’s statistics with Google Analytics and email marketing data. This allows me to view the engagement performance across social media from blog articles to emails.

For example, in the past 12 months, I generated 16,000+ clicks from my Twitter account which allows me to see what sort of topic my followers are interested in.

twitter.com/designdamage

I can then tailor my blog content to target further engagement and sharing. The same can be applied to email and this is particularly useful if you have an ecommerce site that allows you to track sales conversions.

The key here is to link metrics to actionable options that you generate for them. That’s why you want people to visit your web properties because you will have control of the environment.  Everything is a test in marketing.

3) Focus Shifts from Tactical to Strategic

From the mix of clients and prospects I’ve talked with this year, most of them fall into one of the three buckets: those still experimenting with social marketing, those using social media as an add-on tool with existing marketing tactics and those integrating social as part of their efforts to be more customer-centric.

In the coming year I see more businesses moving towards wanting to be more social embracing what Jeremiah Owyang described as the “hub and spoke” social business model.

Most Corporations Organize in “Hub and Spoke” formation for Social Business

The challenge will be how to strategize, streamline, automate, budget, and measure social media and social marketing. Simply put, the one-size-fits-all volume marketing will no longer be effective.

You want more consistent, predictable campaign that can be efficiently replicated instead of one-off campaigns that requires lots of resources and attention to operate.

So how can you achieve that?

The best way is to conduct split testing across integrated campaigns. You must become gradually efficient at implementing and optimizing your campaigns focusing on frequency and delivery of real-time value.

It also requires the big picture marketing strategy, NOT just tactics. At the end it is about getting the highest return on the value you create for your customers. Start thinking about how you can earn engagement that leads to conversation that leads to revenue.

4) Video Marketing Becomes Mainstream

Are you doing any videos? Do you know that a YouTube channel is the equivalent of a Facebook profile? Do you know that online video, yes video can help with your SEO?

Let’s take a look at some data here for you to think about.

At the 2010 Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo, Greg Jarboe, president and co-founder of SEO-PR revealed that:

  • Americans watch more videos a month on YouTube than they conduct searches on Google
  • A video is 50 times more likely to get a first-page Google ranking than a text page

If those finding aren’t stunning, coming from an SEO perspective check out Pew Internet Research’s recent study indicating that “7 in 10 adult internet users (69%) have used the internet to watch or download video. That represents 52% of all adults in the United States.”

Something to keep in mind is that while online video is exploding, other media channels are slowing down or shrinking!

According to a recent Edison Research’s study indicates that “during an average day, Americans age 12-24 spend two hours and 52 minutes on the internet, making the web the media format American young adults spend the most time consuming. Television closely follows with a daily average of two hours and 47 minutes.”

In addition, as opposed to TV ads, online videos are trackable and can be viewed repeatedly attracting the “long-tail” viewers while allowing you to measure the exact impact of the video and participate around it in the comments section or on blogs.

The bottom line is that although video (Youtube) marketing isn’t anything new, it’s gaining more momentum now because the cost of video production are dramatically reduced today than it was a few years ago.

You can now purchase high definition cameras (such as the Flip HD) for under $150 which creates amazing looking videos. Even the new iPhone4 has HD videos that enable everyone to become a video producer at all times.

Keep in mind that you should consider video marketing tactic to support your overall marketing campaign not the other way around if it doesn’t fit into your strategy. Success video marketing strategy focuses on attracting the right audience with a topic or theme that’s video-worthy and can be compelling!

The take away: We’re in the middle of a media evolution where technology has fundamentally changed the way we consume media and interact with one another. It’s not about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Google, iPhone or iPad; it never has been.

It’s about how these tools and platforms support what you want to achieve with your business.

Social is just a label, the real challenge is figuring out how to deliver optimal customer experience that builds meaningful relationships between you and your customers.

Am I missing anything here? Please leave your comments and questions, I’m interested to hear how you’re using internet to market your business, products or services.