Whether it’s the latest discussion of Presidential tweets or Wall Street commentary on the company’s value, Twitter is often a newsworthy social media channel. Popularity should be only one of the factors used when determining if Twitter is the right marketing channel for your business.

In this series on Twitter for Business we will cover the following:

What Is Twitter?

Founded in 2006, Twitter came on the social media scene just as MySpace was coming to an end and Facebook opened up to the general public. At the time it was incredibly unique from any of the other emerging social media options with wide open access and short-form content.

At it’s core Twitter is still a publicly accessible messaging system. Content is posted to the system in short messages of 140 characters. Along with public tweets, users also have the option to send private messages to individual users or specified groups of users. Twitter also supports the sharing of images, gifs, recorded video, and live video streaming.

A few things make Twitter very different from the major social media options. Twitter makes no distinction between a person and a business entity. The ways accounts are set up and are able to interact on the platform are exactly the same. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram all have different account types for businesses. In the case of Facebook and LinkedIn in particular, company accounts are very limited in the way they are allowed to engage with individual people on the network. Whether you are a person or a brand, you are not limited in the ability to advertise or engage with other Twitter users so long as it conforms to Twitter’s terms of service.

Twitter does not require a reciprocal relationship between users. Any user can pick and choose any other user to follow without getting a confirmation from the followed account. Facebook and LinkedIn require acceptance of a request to connect for individual users, but allow users to follow company pages at will. Pinterest and Instagram came along after Twitter and follow Twitter’s example in allowing users to follow publicly posted content without confirming a connection. Users can also easily unfollow accounts a will.

With the use of lists, users can keep track of feeds from any other Twitter account whether they follow the account or not. Lists also provide Twitter users with very custom controls over their feeds.

Although the use of hashtags (#topic) have spread across most social media channels, Twitter used it first and to a degree still uses it best. Hashtags used on Twitter enable users to aggregate conversations and feeds around topics of interest.

Twitter’s Audience

As of January 2017 Twitter Has:

  • 500 million Tweets posted daily
  • 317 million active monthly users
  • 100 million active daily users
  • 80% of Twitter users are on mobile devices

Twitter users:

  • Represent 24% of all male internet users
  • Represent 21% of all female internet users
  • 79% are outside the US
  • 67 million live in the US
  • 37% are between 18 and 29
  • 25% are between 30 and 49
  • 21% earn less than $30k
  • 19% earn between $30k and $49k
  • 25% earn between $50k and $75k
  • 26% earn over $76k

Data sources:

Twitter by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts


Twitter’s Role In Marketing

As with any social media channel, the choice to commit to active engagement on Twitter should be made with consideration for customer demand for communication in that channel, your business marketing goals, and your business communication style.

Customer Demand for Twitter

It is always a good idea to claim territory for your business and protect your brand name. Even if you find that Twitter isn’t the right social media option for your business, you need to be sure that you are well represented there and can guide Twitter users to your website, storefront, and/or other social channels where you are active.

Your personal answers to the following questions will help you determine if you should set up a Twitter account to claim that space for your business or if you need to set aside people and resources to actively engage on a daily basis.

Are your existing customers active on Twitter?

There are a couple of ways to find out the answer to that question. If you do not currently have a Twitter account for your business, you can create one and run your customer email list to find Twitter users that are already in your database. You can also do this with an existing account.

Whether you have an account yet or not, you can do a search for your business in Twitter to see if people are tweeting about you.

Go to https://twitter.com/search-home and type in your business name.

When researching how Twitter users already talk about your brand or business, you want to look at the “Latest” results in Twitter search. This gives you a chronological feed of all the tweets with your search term. As you can see in the example above, this user included the words “chameleon coffee” in her Tweet but did not try to tag the brand with their Twitter handle. This is a very quick way to see if your existing customers are using Twitter to talk about your business.

However, it’s not fool-proof. Results like this only happen if your customers take the time to mention you. Your customers could be actively involved in Twitter, but talking about a variety of other things. That’s why you should take the time to run your email list through Twitter to find active users. Then you know they are your customers whether they’ve mentioned you or not.

If you find that your existing customer base are active on a daily or weekly basis, you should consider making Twitter a part of your business’ regular communication activities.

Is there an audience that looks and behaves like your existing customers active on Twitter?

Are there active conversations on Twitter relevant to your industry and what you do?

These two questions are closely related and are researched in the same way.

The next thing to consider are your potential customers, the people who like and buy the same things your existing customers do. To find out how active this group of people is on Twitter, you will need to go back to Twitter search.

If you find that there is a large engaged Twitter audience around topics related to your business, you need to invest in time and effort into participation on behalf of your brand.

Are your competitors active on Twitter?

Most likely you’ve already spotted a few competitors in the searches you’ve run already. Take that research another step further and search specifically for the accounts belonging to your competitors. You can search their business names in Twitter. You should also double check  your competitor’s website for the officially linked Twitter account.

Look through their feeds to see how often they post, what kinds of posts they share, and how much engagement those posts receive from the Twitter community.

This information about total Tweets posted by the account, how many accounts it follows, how many users follow it is all publicly available to anyone that visits the brand’s profile page.

As you scroll through the profile you can check the dates to quickly get a sense of how often something is posted to Twitter by this account. You can also quickly skim to understand if they post a lot of links, photos, or video. In the case of Chameleon, they tend to post every one to two days, mostly photos and videos.

Do those competitors have a highly engaged community on Twitter?

Now take a more detailed look at how people engage with the Tweets posted by your competitors.

If your competitors have cultivated an active and engaged audience on Twitter, you need to consider adding Twitter to your marketing mix.

Do your customers expect to get customer service on Twitter?

This final question has to do with how your customers prefer to communicate with you. When you did your brand search at the beginning of these exercises, did you notice any tweets attempting to reach your company with questions or issues? Were there a lot of tweets like that? Was the volume of customer service tweets similar to phone calls and emails you get?

If your research surfaced an active use of Twitter as a way to communicate with your company about customer service related issues, you need to include Twitter into your customer service communication options.