Most companies use Twitter the same way they use advertising – as a one-way communication blast. Although it is easy to set up and manage your Twitter account this way, it is limiting and off-putting to your target audience. They quickly see through your self-serving Tweets, and tune you out. Often, for good. If you think of your website as “information central” and your Twitter account as an “outpost,” gathering and sharing intelligence, then you’ve got the right idea.The three best ways to use Twitter in your marketing are:
- Building Awareness
- Establishing Authority
You can think of research in this sense as keeping your ear to the ground. Educators are talking and sharing on Twitter. They share what’s happening in their classrooms and schools, what they think about education issues, and what they need help with. Twitter is a direct channel to the connected educator…the educator who is actively invested in learning how to be more effective by connecting with other educators across the country. Building a community of interest and awareness of your products is the goal on Twitter. It is not a direct sales channel. As you know, educators are particularly sensitive to marketing spiels. Once they determine you are more interested in selling your stuff than in helping them, they’re gone. They’ll pass right over you.
So, how do you build community and awareness without turning off educators?
By establishing your authority and expertise. You accomplish this by first focusing on helping your audience solve their problems. By generously sharing your expertise with your audience, you will build community and become a go-to resource for them. One of the ways you become a go-to resource is to freely share valuable content that helps potential customers solve their issues, such as white papers, case studies, videos and webinars. Share them and archive them on your site. The big “but” here is that you can’t push out your own content 100% of the time. To be valued as an authority, you have to share other resources that have nothing to do with what you’re selling. Your goal is to be perceived as an authority on the issues. Although you don’t have to share competitive products, it would be valuable and helpful to share news articles, pertinent research from third-party researchers, infographics or other helpful pieces of content that shed light on your area of expertise. Over time, your audience will perceive you as an authority and look to you to keep them current on your area of expertise. Marketing experts claim that 80/20 is the guiding principle here. 80% of what you share should be resources other than your own. When you do this, your audience is willing to accept your marketing and sales messages 20% of the time. They’re intelligent people and understand the role of business. However, our industry is unique in that we have many current and former educators as associates in our business. They are uniquely qualified to engage your audience on Twitter. Above all, educators respect the opinions of other educators. Even, when they’re representatives of education companies. You want to ensure that your website is full of helpful information. Use your 20% of Twitter time to push interested educators to your website so they can share in your expertise…with no strings attached. If you use the remaining 80% to share non-proprietary information and resources with your intended audience, you will build a following and a community over time. There is not usually an immediate ROI on Twitter. But it is a smart longer-term strategy to position your company as an authority. You will eventually sell more stuff, but the benefit in the short term is to be regarded as a company that cares deeply about the issues of its community. Are there other ways you are successfully using Twitter?