There’s been a lot of discussion on every blog that’s any blog about influence. The latest national story by Advertising Age on The Influencers and a complementary story, “Your Followers are No Measure of Your Influence” about whether Twitter drives influence or not, have prompted lots of banter online.
The Twitter story is more about why your number of followers, how many lists you’re on and how many times your tweets are RT’ed have nothing to do with influence and more to do with popularity.
One thing is for sure; Advertising Age caters to the multi-gazillion dollar corporations that produce the iconic brands we consume. What of the mid-sized market of companies with equally successful specialty products catering to all of us, as well? When they read a story like this, are they running the 100-yard dash away from Twitter to the safety of Facebook? YouTube? Yelp?
I’m here to tell you, business owners, do not pass go; go directly to Twitter and engage. There are common threads in every marketing department, but each company brings a unique culture with its model. When you re-define “influence” to suit your business’s acceptable ROI, Twitter can help reap the benefits.
- Define “influence.” The Ad Age story seeks that influencer who can tweet 140 and cause multitudes to make a purchase. This Holy Grail ought to be re-defined for mid-sized businesses to encompass brand awareness, search marketing, location-based marketing services, prospecting for new customers, and executing creative marketing never before attempted.
- It’s an art form. Twitter is more than “social” media. Rarely anyone understands how you can communicate in 140 characters until you do. It’s an art form, and it doesn’t include texting abbreviations either. The “social media” vernacular should be adjusted to get people away from the frivolity of the experience. I suggest “online engagement marketing;” this lends a more professional and strategic bent to the experience.
- You have control. Behind the Twitter numbers (as listed in paragraph one) is an entire discussion around influence. You can control your followers and you can specialize your stream by industry and topic. Only after you engage long term will you be astute enough to mold your stream into a long list of sales prospects. Mind you, sales will happen AFTER you create community.
- Link Love and Traffic. Google now indexes tweets. You can build a Google alert for the name of your company or product, and when referenced on Twitter via link love, you’ll begin to see how to define your measurement and success. Twitter is the easiest way to direct traffic via links to promote corporate blogs, promotions, location-based marketing programs and products. Twitter directs link love to blogs, Facebook, Yelp, Groupon, Quora, and it helps with Klout and Twinfluence scores.
- Pushing sales. While marketers in mega corporations are being required to prove ROI from online engagement marketing, a mid-sized or smaller business can be more flexible in showing a return and eventually sales. Twitter is an untapped sales channel for smaller businesses and when it bears fruit, it’s worthy of repetition and longer-term investment.
- Not a one off. Everyone says this over and over again – social media is part of the marketing mix. Twitter or Facebook are not one offs; you cannot execute either one as a stand-alone strategy without incorporating these tactics into an integrated marketing program.
If you are a mid-sized or small business and have already been executing online engagement marketing as part of your integrated marketing program with no success, here are several thoughts to consider:
- Take a look at how you’re measuring success; is it simply oriented to sales, or are there other positive metrics contributing to filling the sales pipeline?
- Who’s on your team? Is one marketer trying to function as marketing, public relations, social media, and advertising? Change that in a hurry!
- Consider an outside consultant who wears the hat of strategist and tactician along with a keen business orientation. Such a consultant ought to be able to blend public relations directly into the greater marketing mix seamlessly. (Give me a shout, and we can further discuss these options.)
Meanwhile…do not pass go, business owner! Go directly to Twitter.