I imagine many people have probably at least heard of the micro-blogging service named Twitter. However, probably a smaller number of people actually use it to grow their business. In this entry, I’ll share my perspective on affiliate marketing on Twitter and whether it’s ‘acceptable’ and provide best practices for marketing your business via Twitter.
Darren Rowse from Problogger has posted a great entry about whether affiliate marketing belongs on Twitter. He points out a growing trend in commission-based marketing and its sprawl on social mediums such as Twitter. Within the 100+ comments, there are a hot debate between the ethical and practical uses of this newer form of marketing.
I’d like to step back for a moment and help clarify the spirit in how (and why) Twitter exists. Much like social networks, many users of Twitter have attracted to minimize the “noise” often found on the Web and their e-mail. Twitter users also appear to endow a certain amount of trust in each other since you’re supposed to follow people who are your In-Real-Life (IRL) friends. Having that said, a majority of Tweets consist of reputation and status-based discussions which usually describe what someone is doing, reading, writing, thinking about — all personal in context.
The fact is, there are many passionate marketers out there who are creative in how they market their brand, products and service. On the same note, there are just as many users on Twitter and additional social networks who defend their territory — as a community — and take offense to any unwanted advertising on their turf.
As a professional marketer, you must take steps to laser target your audience to people who are truly interested in your messaging. Instead of targeting the medium, focus your efforts toward your audience, the people. As I mentioned above, Twitter users typically are very sensitive to broad “blasts” which happen to include them, in addition to unsolicited follow requests.
Is Infusionsoft against Twitter usage? No way! We encourage all our clients to go ahead and use Twitter and interact in the variety of discussions out there. This is a Web 2.0 world and we know consumers have choices and manage their experiences. As a small business owner, you have an advantage in that you get to attract, interact and build strong relationships with customers and prospects on virtually any service. However, we advise clients to be aware of what they are sending and consider the potential adverse affects of sending large quantities of messages over Twitter.
Now that I have shared my perspective on affiliate marketing on Twitter, I want to share some tips which will make the best of the dynamics on Twitter and many other social media networks. Bear in mind, these are best practices and they’re flexible.
Best Practices for Marketing on Twitter:
- Establish Your Brand – Establish your company’s brand and make it closely blend with the theme and style of your existing Web site. First step is to register and get on Twitter, second is customizing your Twitter theme.
- Be Active – The only way to establish interest and attract new prospects is to be active. I strongly recommend posting messages that are informative and provide value for followers.
- Shorten Links –When posting Web links, be sure to shorten them so you can maximize the words in your Tweet. Links can be shortened automatically with Twitter applications or you can use services like TinyURL, Cli.gs, etc.
- Be Mindful of the 140 Chr. Limit – Be mindful of the 140-character limit imposed on Twitter. The limit is there so your words become more important. Use abbreviations when appropriate and slang, if possible.
- Interact – Leverage the use of the reply feature by pre-pending the @ symbol before another Twitter user’s name. For instance, if you want to reply to Infusionsoft, you would use @Infusionsoft in your message. This will help your followers observe who you’re interacting with and vice-versa when they reply back.
- Be Yourself – While it may be a challenge when dating, it shouldn’t be on Twitter. Relax and feel comfortable to share personal thoughts over your small business’ account. This will help your followers get to know you.
- Search and Follow Twitter Users of Interest – It’s a good idea to routinely seek out your industry peers and colleagues to connect with them. To do that, you must be logged in and click the “Follow” button under their avatar. However, don’t follow users blindly if you really have no idea who they are.
- Use the Tools Pros Use — Once you feel comfortable with the relatively simple Twitter interface and fundamentals, consider using tools the pros use such as Twhirl, TweetDeck, Twitter Search, Twitturly and more. These will aid you in keeping track of the interactions on Twitter.
Having said all that, remember the landscape in Social Media is always changing, so what was great yesterday may not be great today. Every marketer should always test, analyze and adapt to the needs of their users.
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on marketing via Twitter and perhaps your usage of Twitter thus far. Share your comments below.