With Twitter now eclipsing 200 million active users and on the verge of an IPO, there can no longer be any doubt that Twitter will become a regular feature on the docket of marketing executives. The company Twitter will be on a prolonged offensive to develop its business and monetize its base.  The question then becomes, from a brand’s perspective, how to grow your brand on Twitter?

Objectives first

How to grow your brand on Twitter, The Myndset digital marketing brand strategy

The first point of call is to figure out what are the overall business objectives and to understand how social media — and in this case Twitter — will be a contributing factor in the overall strategy.  With these objectives clearly in mind, the next consideration is to figure out what you will be measuring against.  For example, where is it that you want the Twitter users to go (i.e. create a funnel)?  What actions do you want to stimulate (e.g. subscribe to a newsletter)?   Once the objectives and measuring sticks have been identified, then a strategy and implementation plan comes into focus.

Twitter Options

Having established the objectives, the question remains as to how to grow your brand using Twitter.  Below are several typical usages for Twitter.  These are arguably transfers of traditional business functions onto another channel.  Only the first is demonstrably about hitting the top line.

  • Sales Channel (e.g. DellOutlet, SteamyDeals [Steam video games]).  Other brands use their Twitter to announce deals or offer coupons within their stream.  Whole Foods is one of the more recent ones to join this bandwagon.  With pure players and/or those with eCommerce sites, this avenue is easy to control and measure.  However, it is a more complex affair in a cross-channel environment.
  • PR or Corporate Communications – To broadcast corporate messages, for example press releases and/or shareholder information (e.g. LOrealUSACorp)
  • HR Recruitment / Careers – To speak to and hire new recruits (e.g. Nestle USA Careers)
  • Customer Service (e.g. JetBlue, NikeSupport, ComcastCares…).  According to an infographic produced by Sentiment Metrics, 30% of top brands now have a dedicated customer service on Twitter.

Unlike on a Facebook page or in LinkedIn Groups or Forums, a brand’s Twitter followers are not a tight knit community. {Click to Tweet} Each person or account has chosen to follow the brand, but does not necessarily interact with other followers.  After all, 80% of all Twitter accounts do not actively tweet.  Moreover, the notion of unfollowing on Twitter is done with little friction.

What counts on Twitter?

Twitter has unique differences to the traditional media channels and we have seen some very original and different ways of using Twitter to help drive the business.  A healthy Twitter account should typically have a combination of the four components below:

  • Conversation – Procter & Gamble uses their principal handle with a declared intent to “keep the conversation going.”  Conversation is the part that makes Twitter social.  Accounts that are uniquely one-way broadcasts can quickly become stale or viewed as a kind of spam.
  • Content creation and distribution – Twitter can be suitable to distribute content that is being created within the organization.  An example is IBM.  The key is creating valuable content for one’s follower base.
  • Curation – Rather than focusing on one’s own content, brands can use Twitter to uncover and dispatch the most relevant news out there.  According to a recent Livefyre study, 93% of respondents said that they used Twitter for social curation.  As Livefyre’s CEO, Jordan Kretchmer, said, “[p]eople are talking about your brand every day. Social curation enables marketers to tap into what people are already saying about your brand on social networks and then use it to promote their products in an effective, authentic way.”
  • News – Especially when it’s hot.  The bakery, Albion’s Oven, in London has been using Twitter since 2009 to great effect, announcing when the latest baked items were hot out of the oven.
  • Customer Service (e.g. JetBlueNikeSupportComcastCares…).  According to an infographic produced by SentimentMetrics, 30% of top brands now have a dedicated customer service on Twitter.

6 keys to grow your brand on Twitter

Notwithstanding all the above usages, there are several key ways how to grow your brand on Twitter.

  1. Integrating.  On the very basic level, it is important that your Twitter account have a well thought through bio, replete with a pertinent link.  Moreover, your Twitter presence should be fully integrated into all other marketing materials, including substantively the home page of your main website.  The Twitter handle (aka username) can also be farmed out throughout events, on business cards and more.
  2. Listening.  Twitter is a vibrant space and, considering the volume of tweets, it is likely that there are people talking at anytime about you, your competitors and/or your environment.  By listening intently to existing and potential customers, there are inevitably opportunities that open up, whether in the B2B or B2C space.  I highly encourage C-suite executives to use Twitter just to listen to what is going on in the street, thereby side-stepping the internal hierarchies that can often obscure the truth.  A great example of such behavior is the CEO of O2 in England, Ronan Dunne, who as he says uses his account to “walk the aisles.”
  3. Demonstrating expertise.  To the extent Twitter is a micro-blogging service (where blogs are a long form way of highlighting one’s expertise), it can be a good vehicle to establish one’s authority in a certain field.  The key point here is to think of one’s brand as a media or publishing company.  Twitter can be a useful part of the arsenal in creating a sense of authority in a chosen sector.
  4. Providing offers.  Twitter can be a way to distribute offers, coupons or straight discounts.  Whether the offers are separated into a dedicated “sales” channel or integrated into the stream of the main account, Twitter’s particularity is the rapid decay of Tweets.  Typically, this makes it an ideal channel for flash sale sites.  However, it can also be applied for other offline stores.  The key is figuring out the association between the tweet and the cash register — and making sure the staff are appropriately trained and equipped.
  5. Identifying leads.  The search function is an effective way to find interesting contacts.  Sometimes finding leads can be done the soft route, by answering questions of people in need (relative to your area of expertise).  Otherwise, there are many people asking questions and looking for goods/services.  Fixing up some automated searches (using a client such as HootSuite or Tweetdeck to set up columns) can be an effective way to monitor these requests.  Meanwhile, as of end of August 2013, Twitter has rolled out Lead Generation Cards which can only be used with promoted tweets.  As published in a Mashable article, “[i]n a case study quoted on Twitter’s blog, outdoor gear and apparel company Rock/Creek saw a 4.6% engagement rate and generated more than 1,700 new email contacts in one week by using a Card within a Promoted Tweet.”
  6. Creating contests / white papers / webinars.  By formulating exclusive contests on Twitter, one can add names to a mailing list and/or establish new leads.  An alternative might be to offer free white papers or webinars.


The key point in using Twitter to grow your brand is to know what you want to achieve, to set out some measurable goals and then test and learn.  It is essential to find an editorial line that respects the followers, because they can very quickly and easily unsubscribe.  Secondly, it’s important to think of this as a longer-term project, without concerning oneself with immediate results.  Buying followers via any of the quick fix services (eg SocialKik, FanBullet) is not prescribed, even at the beginning.  Thirdly, a Twitter feed must be managed.  If you are in start-up mode, training and guidelines are vital.  Members of a team managing the accounts need to play off each other and are ideally identified in the bio (e.g. for ComcastCares) or are recognized in the individual tweets (e.g. via ^initials).

Finally, Twitter cannot be a standalone.  For example, when creating a Customer Service line via Twitter, there usually needs to be other channels to cater to different audiences.

Parting tips: If you are going to be serious about building your brand on Twitter, here are three guiding principles:

  • Consider carefully the objective of the account(s) and allocate the right resources (including people, tools and time)
  • Listen, test and learn
  • Give before expecting in return

Your thoughts and comments are, as ever, welcome.

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