Leveraging Twitter, Part 2: Twitter Marketing Foundations Tutorial

2.2 Introduction

Hi, I'm Jennifer Evans Cario, the President of SugarSpun Marketing, author of Pinterest Marketing, An Hour a Day, and the Social Media Faculty Chair at Market Motive. Thanks for joining me for part 2 in this series on leveraging Twitter.

2.3 Twitter Looking Like Facebook

Now, it's important to know that Twitter is looking more and more like Facebook these days. In fact, with their most recent update, you'll find that you not only have your avatar and your bio but that you've also got things structured in a way that you can very easily see who's following and connected to how many people and how many lists are they on. You can very easily see Twitter's version of the news feed. And you've got this big, beautiful cover photo that can be leveraged for branding purposes or it can be leveraged for creative conversion marketing purposes, which we'll talk about here in a few minutes.

2.4 Twitter Profile Dimensions

Now the dimensions on Twitter are a little bit different from some of the other channels. And it's a good idea, as with all social media channels, to make sure that you are building out specific images, specific avatars, specific cover photos, specific image posts that can be used on each of these channels. In fact, when we develop content for blogs, we make sure that each blog has an image that's going to go on the blog and that has an image that is cut to the exact specifications that we want to use on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Facebook and on each of the different channels. So it's a good idea to make sure on a regular basis that at least once or twice a year, that you're going through and checking one of the many sources that takes the time to put together what the exact specifications are for your Twitter header, for your profile picture, etc. The example here is from the Agora Pulse blog, does a wonderful job of not just telling you the space, but also showing what some of the visible space is verses what might actually get cut off. Now Chad Fullerton goes a step further, and he actually will take that cover photo area and he will show you not just what the dimensions are which is 1500x421 but he'll also mark off. Based on if you might be using a mobile device or if you might be using a web based device. What's going to show up versus being blocked by another piece of content. So this can be a really great way to overlay whatever design you're putting together to make sure that across the board it's going to display properly on all devices. Now since not all areas are actually visible, again it's a good idea to know that for example if you're on an iPhone depending on whether someone's looking at their Twitter display horizontally or vertically, it's going to show up in a different manner. And again making sure that you don't have any important call to actions or pieces of information that are going to get hidden on some of those different devices.

2.5 Designing Your Header

A couple tips for designing your header. The size of your header can be up to two megabytes, format is pretty standard, .jpg or .png, but it's, what's important to know is that it's a ratio of three to one. Because Twitter is going to expand or contract it based on how someone's browser is set up, how big their window and their dimensions are. So it's a good idea to make sure that whatever it is that you develop does actually fit within the aspect ratio so that Twitter can do the resizing for you. Now it's also a good idea to make sure you're making use of that space, not just for branding purposes, but also potentially for conversion purposes. Letting people know what it is you do, what it is you have to offer. Making sure that your branding is tied in to the messaging that's showing up at the top of the page. You also have no restrictions in terms of incorporating calls to action. So if you want to draw a little arrow down to that follow button or if you want to throw a URL on there or a special product code, you have the ability to use those promotions. Now you also have the ability to tie your header into a pinned tweet. You do have the ability to take any particular tweet that you had put out in your account and have it be tied to the top of your page. So that if someone does go to your profile page, that's the first thing they're going to see. So tying those two things together can be a really great way to incorporate a really strong call to action.

2.6 Image Post Tips

Now when it comes to individual tweets that you're putting out, it's important to also understand that there is a specific file size that can be used for the images that you're uploading to go along side of your tweets. So the dimensions on that are currently 1024 by 512 and they're set up to an aspect ratio that's basically two to one. Now, you can upload images that are up to five megabytes but, it's really important to keep in mind things like download time and whether or not you really need an image of that size to actually display the message that you're trying to get across. Now image posts on Twitter do perform better, much in the way that they do on Facebook and several other networks, and Twitter has added the ability to allow you to put up multi-photo tweets, as well as to tag the images in those tweets with other Twitter users. So it's important to keep that in mind, that you do have the ability to leverage images in a lot of different and creative ways when it comes to Twitter. Now, Twitter has also opened up the door to animated gifs. Now, the file size on those is a little more restricted, it's actually only three megabytes instead of five megabytes. It's important to remember that those animated gifs may not be mobile friendly. Especially depending on what country you're trying to reach out to, what the local data networks are like there, and what type of speed someone actually has. So, taking a look at those animated gifs and figuring out how you might creatively use them to do things like telling a story, maybe boosting your brand incorporating some type of call to action. There's a lot of great examples out there of brands having a little bit of fun with them. Maybe not necessarily doing hardcore call to action marketing, but really kind of playing on the brand side and on the contesting, and the fun side with people. But it is important again to remember that you need to keep your images mobile friendly. And that's a really important thing on Twitter because there is such a high mobile adoption rate on Twitter. So when you're creating your images, you want to make sure that any text on those images is not teeny tiny. If you've gotta squint to read it on a computer screen, there's no way that someone's going to be able read it on a mobile device. You also want to consider things like load time, and the size of the image. So just because you can upload something that's three megabytes doesn't necessarily mean that it's a good idea to do that. In fact when it comes down to things like advertising. It's a really good idea to give consideration to uploading different images for your web based campaigns versus your mobile campaigns so that you can target those images differently based on how you know they're going to be viewed on the screens.

2.7 Twitter Video

Now when we look at Twitter Video, and Twitter has added their own native video option. And basically it only works if you're using a Twitter app on your mobile device, but it allows you to capture video from within the Twitter app. When you're capturing that video you can take video, pause, take some more video, and then you have the ability to actually edit different video clips together. Now it's important to note, you can't really do any hardcore editing here. It's more dragging and dropping different clips to put them in the order that you want them to be in. And maybe doing a little bit of clipping to shorten the length or cut out a little piece that you like but again, very simple editing devices. But once you've done that, then you have the ability to share that directly on Twitter and to have it be part of the native Twitter experience. Now, you are limited to 30 total seconds of video. But again that can be a compilation of half-a-dozen or more different video clips that you've taken and spliced together on your own. Now as I mentioned, Twitter video allows you to capture and splice together and edit video right on your mobile app. However it will also let you go in on your Android or iOS mobile device to choose existing video that you may have already taken with your phone and have sitting in your video library somewhere. In doing that is pretty similar to how you would go in and find a picture. You're just going to look for the video that you want. And then it gives you the ability to sort of select the area of that video that you want to have play and trim it down to exactly what it is you want to have and to post. Now it's important to remember that for native Twitter video, because all of this process needs to take place within your phone, and because there's some limitations in terms of the editing ability, in general this is used more for CGM style videos, not really for professional grade marketing. There's other avenues available to Twitter, using Twitter cards to put up your more professional style photos. It's also worth noting that unlike on Facebook, Twitter does not auto play the videos that you put up natively by default.

2.8 Embeddable Tweets

Now Twitter also has a feature called embeddable tweets that can work very well from the marketing perspective. What this allows you to do is take a tweet that you find, maybe because you are following someone, or maybe it is something that someone has posted to your brands stream, but you can go into the additional information area of a tweet, the little ..., that shows up there. And choose the embed tweet option and what it will do is give you a little snippet of code that you can then take and drop in to say a blog post or a news article or something that you're writing. And it will allow a completely interactive version of that tweet to be embedded within your content. So people can still click that follow button and actively follow. They can reply, retweet, favorite, all right from your piece of content on, again, your website or your blog. So this is a great way to make use of some of that really valuable conversation, by incorporating it into some of your other content marketing strategies. So using them as conversation starters, to maybe share videos, or share photos, again can be a wonderful way to get people out there and actually saying, oh, hey, this is cool. I didn't even realize you were on Twitter, or I didn't know this conversation was taking place on Twitter. It's also a great way to share things like testimonials and event coverage, if you're tracking those and you plan to leverage those as part of your marketing strategy.

2.9 URL Shorteners

Now another thing that needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to sharing links and sort of spreading the love on Twitter is things like URL shorteners. And there's a lot of really popular services out there including a lot of the Twitter clients themselves, that will actually shorten your URL for you. Now it's important to make note of a few things before you make a decision about whether or not you plan on using a URL shortener. For example, no matter how long the link is that you post, Twitter actually only counts all links at a maximum of 22 characters. So clearly, there are some circumstances where using a URL shortener can still shave a little bit more off that and give you a little more space to talk. But there's less of an issue now. Than there was even just a few years ago. It's also important to remember that when you make use of a URL shortener, there's a couple requests that have to happen on the server level and sometimes that does cause a little bit of a delay in terms of what happens when people click through on those links. Sometimes, that can be a matter of even a couple seconds which for some people becomes a big deal on the user side. And again, if you consider people that are on mobile devices, that also potentially factors in because their broadband connection may be shorter. So, this is something worth giving consideration to and making an educated decision about in terms of whether or not you find them to have value. For the most part these days shorteners are used for tracking, more so than they are for length. And if it's really about the tracking side of knowing exactly what links are being clicked on, how things are being passed around and spread then there's a lot of value that can come from saying, okay, we'll go ahead and accept the potential latency issues. Just for the purpose of actually having the tracking behind them, but again, it's not so much about the length of the link anymore.

2.10 How Many Accounts?

Now when we look at things like the number of accounts, this also becomes an issue not just for companies that are new to Twitter but for companies that are well established on Twitter. Because they really take the time to say okay, do we need to change our approach to how we're using Twitter? Do we need to consider breaking down and having multiple accounts set up all around the same brand. And what that decision really comes down to is the consideration of the size, and the scope, and the purpose of your account. If you have a lot of different inquiries and a really big team, you have people from customer service that are tweeting and people from product development that are tweeting and people that might be tweeting on the legal or PR side, then a lot of times it makes sense to break those accounts down rather than trying to have so many people answer and sort of participate in the conversation under that one single brand identity. So taking the time to say, well lets break off our customer services into its own separate account, that gives your main line the opportunity to point people in the right direction when those conversations actually come up. Now, on the other hand, if you've only got one person who's going to be doing all of your tweeting anyways, or maybe two people who are doing all of your tweeting, and you find that they can handle everything, then breaking things out into multiple accounts tends to cause more headaches than it's worth. So it's really just about considering what makes the most sense for your business and your brand, and the ways that you're actually planning to leverage Twitter.

2.11 What Are Hashtags?

Now when it comes to hashtags, it's important to know that of all the marketing things you can do on Twitter, hashtags are probably one of the most known, but least understood and least properly utilized of all of the different options. Now at their core, hashtags are a very simple concept. They were really just created to give people on Twitter a way to tie a collection of conversations around a single idea, or event, or even marketing campaign together. It's the way that you know all of these people are talking about the same thing. Or that you spot a conversation, and you say I want to know more about what people are saying about this, clicking on that hashtag and getting into that linked conversation let's you see a bigger and broader perspective that features more people than you might actually follow on your own. So it's a great way for both brands and individual Twitter users to really sort of participate again in that conversation that has become a little more difficult based on the size and scope and how Twitter has changed. So what we see brands doing a lot of times really well and a lot of times really poorly, is working to leverage hashtags to either start a conversation or to participate in a conversation. And one of the single best examples I've seen of this in terms of starting a conversation was Digiorno Pizza, who was looking to get involved In getting their product in front of Fantasy Football players. It was a market that they felt like there was a good conversation taking place on Twitter, and there was a lot of opportunity to really get into the mix there. Now one of the things that they observed happening on a regular basis on Twitter was a lot of Fantasy Football smack talk. Lots and lots of smack talk. So, having the absolute perfect brand name to participate in the smack talk side. They came up with the DigiorNOYOUDIDNT hashtag and used it to start throwing out really clever and really creative football and pizza related smack talk. Now as they did this, sure enough, other people started to participate as well, and started to take part in this conversation. It gave them a really good chance to sort of connect with and build some credibility and some favor with that particular audience. Now, more than 70% of consumers are motivated to explore new content when hashtags are present. So again, even an individual that might not necessarily already be following a brand like DiGiorno Pizza, but that might have been participating in some of the conversation, there's a very good chance that they were going to see someone else either using the hashtag, or using the hashtag in conjunction with the DiGiorno Pizza Twitter handle and actually then come in and join the conversation, be part of it. So really effective way to utilize hashtags to become part of that conversation.

2.12 Joining Existing Hashtags

There's a potential downside to this as well, because sometimes it's about joining existing hashtags. There's always hashtags that have risen up through grassroots efforts, that have gotten people involved. And we can see what the trending hashtags are at any given point in time on Twitter. The thing to remember if you're going to do this as a brand, is to take the time to research the hashtag before you just jump in. Because a lot of times what a hashtag appears to be might not necessarily be what it is. And unfortunately, DiGiorno, who does a lot of hashtag marketing, kind of stepped in it at one point when they didn't take the time to research the WhyIStayed and WhyILeft hashtags that were trending. And these were about domestic violence awareness. Then it was people sharing their personal stories of why they stayed or why the left. So when DiGiorno Pizza tweeted that they stayed because they had pizza, you can imagine It didn't really go over well. And there was a lot of fallout for this, and a lot of different ways that DiGiorno really had to come in. And clean up a little bit of a PR nightmare. Now, on the flip side of that when you do know what the hash tag is, and you do understand what the conversation is. There's a great chance to get into the midst. So DiGiorno Pizza also live tweeted during the Sound of Music live TV event that took place on one of the major networks. And it gave them the chance to become part of a conversation that they never would have regularly been able to be part of. They didn't have to buy any advertising, but the reality was, there were so many live tweeting that The Sound of Music event that they got to participate in the conversation. And they actually scored a really big home run with this one. Got tons and tons of positive tweets, and accolades. And some people saying what a creative and great job they did of making people laugh and participating in the conversation.

2.13 Understanding Hashtags

Now, understanding hashtags as a whole, it's important to remember that you need to keep any hashtags that you're going to promote, simple, and easy to understand. But, also hard to twist against you because that's something that we commonly see pop up in hashtag campaigns is the way someone intends to have it used doesn't always turn being how it's actually used. So great example of a simple and easy to understand one Is Charmin who brilliantly Tweets with a Tweet from the seat hashtag. Lots of humor, definitely potty humor. But about as clean as it can possibly get. And it's a great opportunity to get people engaged in conversation in sharing sort of everyday life and stories with a brand that people wouldn't normally connect with or talk to. And again, very simple concept that is very easily tied in to something like Charmin. On the flip-side, we see brands constantly opening up the door to their own demise by using hashtags for things like, AskSeaWorld, or WhyObamacareWorks, or McDonaldsStories. That are intended for one purpose, but then end up being co-opted by people who are not fans of the brand and used for a completely different one. This is exactly what happened to Sea World in the wake of the black fish scandal. And in their attempt to rebuild their PR efforts, is they decided to host a Twitter chat where people could ask them questions. But unfortunately, people didn't really come in and ask them the type of questions they were hoping for. Instead, they came in and used that hashtag to point out all of the things about Sea World that they were unhappy with. So it's really important to make sure that if you have some type of question based hashtag that it's got sort of a clear cut answer to it. And also even if it doesn't, that's not something that's possible, make sure you have sort of a backup plan. So for example, when the why Obamacare works hashtag backfired against that campaign, they very quickly dropped it and swooped in with I like Obamacare or I love Obamacare. They had a different one that they could use that they were ready to go with it was a little harder to co-opt.

2.14 Why Retweets Matter

Now most people who've heard of Twitter are also familiar with the concept of retweets. And basically a retweet is when one Twitter user takes a piece of content that has been tweeted out by a brand or an individual, they turn around, and they share it with their audience as well. Now it's important to remember that retweeting is one of the core ways in which Twitter gives such massive power and potential, both for news and marketing, to really spread and travel fast. Now, some of it is through hashtags because people can pick up that conversation and run with it, but the idea of retweeting also makes it very easy for things to spread far and wide. So, for example, if you take a single article, you have a single individual, and they tweet it out, and say they have 2,400 followers, and let's say 2% of those followers retweet, which for the record, is a fairly high number. But let's say 2% of them retweet it. Now we've got, 48 retweets that are going out to 24,000 followers in that 2% retweet. The you've got 480 retweets reaching almost a quarter of a million followers in 2% retweet. You can see how the numbers snowball. And this is how getting a message out that people are interested in, that people respond to, that people want to share, gives you the potential that even if your company is small and even if you only have a few hundred followers, if you can just get that message in front of a couple of the right people, and they broadcast it out. Now you have the potential to get massive amounts of exposure and massive amounts of traffic and insight and potential feedback just because you got it in front of one or two of the right people, and they were able to help you get it in front of the thousands or the hundreds of thousands or the millions.

2.15 Creating a Twitter List

Now Twitter List also gives you great native functionality within Twitter that can be leveraged for marketing purposes. And what a list basically allows you to do is to narrow down the field to include only specific Twitter users, whether you follow them or not, but only specific Twitter users so that you can then go in and view the conversation taking place in that list. So it's a great way to set up ongoing monitoring of maybe particular people or particular verticals or particular topics. Basically to do this you just go into your profile and you click on the lists option that shows up towards the top and you'll see an option to create a new list and once you do that you have the ability to give it a name, give it a description, and it's important to note that you can make these lists public or private. So let's say you want to use one for keeping track of maybe influencers that you want to get in front of. Or maybe potential clients that you're looking to pitch. Again, you have the opportunity to still use this feature but make sure no one other than you has any access to it. So once you've given it a name, then you have the ability to go out and start finding people that you want to add. Now, you can click on anyone in your Twitter stream and get into their account to be able to add them, but you can also run searches to find people around specific topics or conversations. Now, once you find a user and you click on them, whether they're a brand or an individual person, you'll see a little cog wheel that shows up next to the Follow button. And when you click on that you're going to see an option to add or remove them from a list. And once you do that, it's going to pop up the list of lists that you have and you can decide which one you want to add them to. And then you can go back into that list area and you can see any of the lists that you've built, click in, use them for monitoring.

2.16 Leveraging Twitter Lists

So, there's a lot of potential to leverage these Twitter lists. It's great for building out a group of users to follow, based on things like the industry, their job description, maybe specific topics that they might talk about. You know, just as, again, a way to sort of monitor the conversation. Now there's also the potential to use it to build credibility and good will by putting together lists of top tweeters or maybe undiscovered tweeters that you then publicly promote and make available to other people. So, maybe you're doing a live event and you want to gather everyone's Twitter ID so you can put together a list of people that are going to be attending that event. Maybe you're putting together customer resources. You know, if you're Chobani you might put together a list of all the recipe bloggers that continually feature your product in their recipes. You could use it to create and source an ongoing pitch list. Again, because you have the ability to keep them private, it a little easier to leverage them for internal purposes. Or maybe you want to have a customer list. You know, maybe you have notable customers or businesses that are using your product or service as part of their business, and you want to be able to call attention to that. There's a lot of different opportunities to leverage these on the marketing front with a little bit of creativity. But it's also important to note that you can leverage Twitter lists to be a little bit sneaky, because you can use it to follow people without actually following them. So as I mentioned a couple slides ago, you don't have to be following someone's Twitter stream to add them to a list. So, maybe you have some side interests. Or maybe you have specific clients or verticals that you want to keep an eye on, but you don't want that conversation cluttering up your everyday Twitter feed. Creating a list is a really great way to be able to get access to the data and the information that those people are posting without having it show up in your native Twitter feed.

2.17 Coming Up

Now, coming up in the next part in our series, we're going to talk about putting site-based Twitter cards to work, and we'll also at leveraging Twitter conversion cards as well, which are sort of a different beast. Then, we're going to talk a little bit about using Twitter's advanced search feature, and how you might leverage that for marketing purposes. Thank you so much for joining me for part two in our series.

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  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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