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Twitter Marketing; To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Or embrace other social media?

Twitter – the name derives from the chirping of birds.

Twitter was founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey. Many in the marketing profession thought it would fail. It didn’t. But should Twitter marketing be part of your mix?

By January 2021 Twitter amassed over 330 million active monthly users. Thus it is now a mass medium. Twitterers include most media companies, such as CNN, the BBC, the Guardian and the marketing press. A red carpet full of celebrities; Katy Perry @katyperry) is the female with largest following (109m (Jan 21)), Justin Beiber has 114m, politicians; @BarackObama has 128 m (Jan 21), and many of the media brands dominate the top 150. The followings of these folk change daily so follow the links to check the latest numbers (1)!

Businesses have now embraced the medium big-time but they still have further to go

Top corporates include @youtube, Google’s video platform (ranked #10 (Jan 2021) though with far fewer followers than many celebs. Other corporates include NASA, Samsung, Starbucks, Cadbury and Dell. These appear in various guises such as products, CadburyDairyMilk (@DairyMilk and @GoneFairtrade) and @Cadbury_Gorilla and as channels or customer service centres. Dell’s presence spans outlet stores such as @delloutlet in the USA, customer service representatives and a growing number of staff.

Twitter marketing benefits?

More customer reach

Twitter’s more open nature is a plus to reach new markets. 60m users live in the USA and the rest beyond. The demographic is slightly more male (62%) than female (38%). Millennials came of age on Twitter so are the largest age group; 80% are under 50 years old. Users are slightly more likely to be college-educated than not too. The growth in smart-phone penetration and faster bandwidths supports Twitter, and social media generally, evolving further into the mainstream. Especially in developing countries.

New promotion vehicle

Twitter allows both mass and individual customer (or follower) communication and engagement to the web and mobile devices. It can also amplify your social media messages as it integrates with platforms including Facebook, Linked In and Instagram. Twitterfeeds can also be exported to websites and blogs.

Brand engagement

The short nature of the messages is more casual and less corporate thus removing a barrier to communication and that many consumers see in engaging with businesses. The mobile nature of the medium also enables live messaging, such as live news, information and picture sharing from events, product launches, presentations etc. Brand awareness and engagement can enhanced through innovative content such as humour and thought leading ideas. During the Wimbledon 2010 tournament, @andy_murray promoted a tennis player snack game (John MacEnrolo, Martina Haggis). This helped soften his image, prompted many retweets and followers.

@OptaJoe on Twitter

Opta the football information company (for example @OptaJoe) always adds a final quirky and cryptic sign-off to their football coverage. This is helping them develop a football celebrity and almost cult following.

Search engine enhancement

The searchable nature of tweets means that it can play a key part in driving traffic to your website. Our experience is that traffic to The Marketing Directors marketing consultancy website from @themarketingdirectors was around 20% of the total in 2009 though this has reduced to around 1-2% today. While adding topical content, we’ve also found that adding a live twitterfeed to our home page increases bounces and reduces our overall search engine ranking.

New sales channel

Twitter works like an add-on to the web. By embedding links into tweets, followers (and the Internet population at large) can be directed to your website. Either to collect names for direct marketing or drive direct sales. Dell, for example, has over 80 corporate twitter accounts which promote a range of ‘unique to twitter’ offers.

Competitor and trend monitoring

Twitter can form part of your corporate early warning radar system to help spot opportunities and threats. Some companies only appear to follow competitors, for example, Cadbury follows other chocolate firms.

Customer relationship building

To follow you is to get to know you, and potentially like, trust and buy from you. Twitter lends itself to both casual mass communication and personal communication with specific individuals. Use it to answer questions and enter into dialogue. As Dell has discovered it can turn detractors into friends such that its employees are now encouraged to open accounts.

Customer research

The research department will also find it useful to ask your customers questions, monitor brand mentions, identify trending topics and analyse your own followers ( We find it particularly useful to keep track of, and find market research partners, in different parts of the world.

Job hunting

There are lots of employment agencies out there!

Political campaigning

There are growing numbers of politicians on Twitter. One of their most famous (or infamous) users (though recently removed from the platform) was ex President of the USA, Donald R. Trump. During the 2020 US Presidential Election his 5am tweets set the election agenda for the day.

Twitter marketing disbenefits?

Creative challenge

An original downside was that messages had to be encapsulated in 140 characters and that included links. However 280 characters are now allowed. Nevertheless this encourages brevity and clarity!

Commercial models

While there are lots of good practices, the rules for making money using twitter are still evolving. The marketing rules however remain the same as they did during the dot-com boom. Insight and ingenuity are both required.

Management time

Setting-up a Twitter account is quick though ongoing management is time-consuming. Use automation software such as to lift the load. As with the web, there will always be time wasters and spammers. These issues easily distract or overwhelm but reduce through simple technology fixes, such as anti-spam or human verification software.

Unofficial brands

The seeming lack of regulation on Twitter means that there is a risk of unofficial twitterers occupying your turf – so aim to mark and protect your brand! One of our favourites is @Queen_UK (who pre-empted HRH Queen Elizabeth who was a late follower in 2014)!

Twitter Marketing Inspiration!

Twitter is a high reach marketing communication medium though over the years engagement levels have fallen. Nevertheless Twitter marketing has a role in your social media strategy. It can be a boon to businesses, and both marketers and researchers alike. The barriers to entry are almost nil and the upside potential remains high. As with all digital media, expect the platform to evolve over time. Image and video tweets are now possible as is advertising.

1. Messaging and commercial strategy; Think carefully about content and define your voice – both are differentiators and vital to engage. Once you’ve decided on your strategy stick to it so as not to alienate followers. In our early days we tweeted a couple of jokey messages very early one morning and lost half a dozen followers! Twitter is ripe for new business models and some of the world’s hottest news stories start here.

2. Targeting; Think carefully about who you want to target, and define your target using keywords. Following your competitors is a good place to start….

3. Measurement: Successful marketing starts with measuring your social media effectiveness. There are many free tools to measure your growing follower count, your friends and followers (, your influence (, mentions ( and embedded link clicks ( Try and measure sales conversion or ROI too!

4. Then just open an account, watch, learn and experiment….

Call us for help to get your message across in the most cost effective way. We view digital marketing as part of the wider marketing mix, and encourage you to simply put your money where it delivers best returns. Just call us for help.


  1. Top 50 Twitter followers
  2. Twitter demographics

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