Ch5 - Twitter

(NOTE: You can download a copy of this chapter in PDF format at the very bottom of this page.)

Social Media Marketing Primer

Chapter 5: Twitter


Welcome to the Social Media Marketing Primer. If you’ve come across this material on its own – it has two homes – one is a site where you can download copies of the chapters or read them online, at - the other is a LinkedIn Group, Social Media Marketing Café, where you can discuss the material and ask questions:

In This Chapter

We’ll take a look at Twitter as a social media marketing channel, discuss the pros and cons, and walk through creating an account.

Twitter: To Do or Not to Do?

Though I believe it’s wise to see the landscape as prone to shifting, within social media marketing, Twitter is considered to be a “mainstay” channel, one of the networks that companies often post to. As with Facebook, there’s no right or wrong about using it, or not using it, but to some extent, the best question to ask is what audience you want to address, and is that audience on Twitter?

As with Facebook, though it could change, in general, people are less likely to have “purchase intent” when on Twitter (as compared to searching on Google), but just like Facebook has explored advertising, Twitter has done the same. A fair amount of people spend time on Twitter, and they’re generally a younger demographic, and probably prone to being interested in exchanging news and information.

It’s also fair to say that for the segment of the population that uses Twitter, it’s increasingly common to “tweet” about issues that a person is having with a product or service. When discussing social media marketing, you invariably end up having to consider the conversation as “two-way” – even if you don’t advertise on Twitter, you may want to become familiar with how people may be tweeting about a company or organization. And the bigger the company is, the more likely people will have the expectation that if they tweet about an issue they’re having, there can increasingly be an expectation that the company should be monitoring twitter to join in the conversation from a customer service perspective.

So my general recommendation is to become familiar with Twitter, to look at some of the techniques for developing and maintaining a presence on Twitter, and to think critically about “ROI”, as with other channels. If you’re in the position of pitching or developing a “baseline” social media presence, for a company or organization (or person) who “knows they want to be on social media”, it might be helpful to think about Twitter as one of several channels that you can post social media to. That is – you might start with a plan of posting regularly to a blog – or you might help a business owner or organization to make regular blog articles, and then work to post these blog articles to both Facebook, and Twitter, to maintain some type of presence on these channels.

It’s a bit hard to make generalizations on the effectiveness of a particular social media channel, but it seems like Twitter is at least worth trying, as well as monitoring, and becoming familiar with.

A High-Level Overview

To understand how Twitter works, you can look at a Twitter page without being “on” Twitter:

For example, take a look at

It’s an example of a very common use of Twitter – to exchange the latest news about ______ - and in the case of Reuters, it’s an official news organization:

If you hadn’t heard already, Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters each, so the general format is some kind of very concise comment, often with a link, either to an article or picture, and then some conventions that are somewhat unique to Twitter.

For example, in the graphic above, in the second post, there is “@reuters” – this is like a “ping”. So if I wanted to mention Reuters in my own tweet, if I include “@reuters”, they can scan twitter and see that the post mentions their username. The @ sign is basically a way to notify another Twitter user of something connected to them.

Another common thing on Twitter, which you’ll sometimes see on television news, or in media discussion, is a “hashtag”, such as #computers, or #apple. It’s basically another kind of “tag” – if you include this kind of text in a twitter post, you are associating the post with any other post that is using the tag. So hashtags will commonly become popular around events or popular topics, such as #worldcup, or around celebrity names, etc.

In addition to news, Twitter is often used by companies and brands. For example, Oreo has an active Twitter page:

Are they exactly posting about “news”? Not particularly – just seeking to make interesting posts.

As much as I believe that it’s important to think about return on investment in social media, it’s fair to say that a good portion of what goes on in social media basically amounts to show and tell, where an effective posts can simply be entertaining, or catches someone’s attention because they’re bored – not necessarily because they’re looking to purchase something.

And it’s also fair to say that Twitter is used extensively for entertainment – a list of some top Twitter accounts:

Another area to be familiar with is customer service – the fact that people tweet about products, and it is a best practice for a company to keep an eye on social media – since an upset customer is more likely to start a firestorm on social media, and it can quickly get out of control if you don’t address it.

“Some are useful because they offer deals and customer service. Others are just plain entertaining.”

Here’s a sample post that someone made – notice how they referenced @BofA_Community – it’s the “ping” I was talking about, that if Bank of America was paying attention to, they’d have an opportunity to respond to.

And Bank of America did respond, because they have a social media team who is out there keeping an eye on things. Keep in mind that these days there are people out there who won’t bother emailing or calling a business, but they might tweet. And “Tweeting” does not necessarily mean going on website and entering a post – many people tweet right from the text message function on their phone. This is part of the reason Twitter spread so fast – because it is fairly simple, and you don’t even need a computer to use it.

.Creating a Twitter Account

To start exploring Twitter, go to, and start by entering your name, email address, and a password.

Next it will flip you to a screen where you can choose a username – this will become

So you just keep trying usernames until you find one that’s available and you like

Then, click Create my account:

Next, just like Facebook, Twitter regularly changes or “improves” the way things work, but at the time of writing, the sign up process seems to force you through a tutorial, so you can just keep on clicking on the Next button:

And it helps you to see how things work – in this case it is showing you how to “follow” people – in theory you don’t need to follow anyone, but when you find accounts to follow, they are notified, and often will follow you as well. So one way of building a Twitter following is to go and find other accounts to follow. Whether people will actually read each others’ posts is another question – that depends on how relevant and interesting they are to the person. But that’s the basic part of it.

So you can just click on a few people it suggests:

Also at some point you’ll get a confirmation email:

.And you just need to click on the confirm your account button:

But if you get annoyed with the step by step wizard, you can always just go back directly to

And it will probably look something like this – with some “tweets” on the right side, from people you are following, along with a “promoted tweet” (see the arrow). Promoted tweets are a form of advertising on Twitter that you can also explore.

.To get to your own Twitter page, click on the profile icon/name:

Posting to Twitter

To get to your page, you can sign in and click on your profile icon, or you can go to, such as:

If you haven’t yet, you can add a photo, or follow some of the introductory suggestions:

In general, to “tweet”, you just go to the upper right hand corner of the screen and click on the tweet icon:

For example (nudge nudge), if you created a blog as suggested in the Content chapter, and if you read about Facebook pages, now you could take a link for a blog post and not only post it on Facebook, but now you can “tweet” it:

Twitter will give you a running count of how many characters you have left in the Tweet – if you run over, it will split it into an extended post or multiple posts, but generally you’ll want to keep thing under 140 characters.

After you enter the text in, click “Tweet” – and voila! You have posted to Twitter:

Then, in theory, as with news feeds in Facebook, the tweet should appear in someone else’s Twitter feed. And I believe, until/unless things change, that with Twitter at least, if a person were to log onto twitter and read every tweet from someone they were following, they would see yours. Meaning, unlike Facebook, at least for now, you don’t need to “promote” a tweet in order for someone to see it. But don’t be surprised if Twitter goes from theoretically unrestricted access to Tweets, to “monetizing” in some way.

ROI and Strategy

An entire industry as grown up around marketing on Twitter, including leveraging advertisements, promoted tweets, etc. – if you’re just learning about what’s possible, or you want to know what kinds of services could be offered to a business or organization, I recommend taking a look at:

In terms of return on investment, in theory, if a business is actually selling a product, you can include promotions, coupons, offers, just like you could in an offer on Facebook, and part of the science of truly tracking ROI in that case would be including links that allow you to calculate – “of the number of people who came to our site from Twitter, based on that link, how many actually purchased something”?

The scope of this material is just to scratch the surface of these tools, but if you want to dig into how one could conceivably track return on investment in social, you might be interested to look into a tool called Argyle Social:

Argyle social is a tool that helps you make links from social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and then has some reporting that when everything is in place, you can see how many sales resulted from Twitter, vs Facebook, etc.

I recommend taking a look at their demo – the most interesting thing to me about Argyle Social is that they were starting to look at “ROI” in social when barely anyone was – so they are pioneers. So if you start out with an attitude of leveraging social media as matter of “generating buzz” for a business or organization, eventually you might want to address ROI, and learning about Argyle Social could be one way to do that.

It’s unique because not a lot of people, even these days, are asking, how much money am I actually generating from social media? But when you keep askinAg that question, you find that it’s tricky – but Argyle is an example of a tool that helps you to actually answer that question.


Learning More

Twitter has some good learning material at:

I’d also recommend taking a look on Google at topics such as “twitter marketing”, and “ROI on Twitter”, or something like “twitter best practices”, or “leveraging twitter for customer service”.

You might also like to explore these links:

Top twitter accounts:


Congratulations on taking a look at Twitter! As with some of the other social networks, the best way to learn about it is to try it a bit, and to take a look at how other people are using it. One of the common things that happens with Twitter (and Facebook for that matter), is that an individual, business or organization will start out with a “gung ho” approach, spend money and time starting out, but then the regularity of posting will drop off, and their social media presence will languish. This is why in spite of how important it is to become familiar with Twitter – it’s helpful to consider that it still comes down to content – what are you going to post? Therefore, a sustainable, ongoing content strategy should be a central part of any social media effort.

So for example, you might establish a social media presence for yourself, or a business, but I wouldn’t do it without a realistic, sustainable plan for regular posts – whether those are offers, news, or promotions, or just sharing information about the organization. I would highly suggest starting out with modest goals, such as a monthly post, or weekly, and when you’ve regularly posted for awhile, consider posting more. Over the long-term, better to post regularly, at higher quality, with more attention. I guess I’m a believer in blog posts for that reason.


You are welcome to visit and join the LinkedIn Group at - if you want to come on and say “huh?” or if you would like to set me straight on something, or just have some feedback.

Remember, there are NO DUMB QUESTIONS. If you have the question, someone else surely also did.

(NOTE: You can download a copy of this chapter in PDF format at the very bottom of this page.)

Todd Kelsey,
Jul 23, 2014, 7:38 AM