The case in the defence of Twitter

A client recently remarked “let me know when you get a sale from Twitter”.  In other words, “I bet I’ll never see the day we get a sale as a result of Twitter!”

A statement said many a time I would wager.  My answer, said smiling: “No, you probably won’t if you just use Twitter on its own, but use it as part of an integrated marketing plan and yes, you probably WILL see sales as a result of it.”

A great deal of our time as a marketing consultancy is spent working with clients on their marketing planning, and crucially the implementation of those plans.  We ensure all marketing activity is tied together with a common message.  We write blogs, newsletters, press articles, tweets, website copy – all focused on key marketing messages unique to our clients.  It’s the combination of all these activities, carried out regularly, timely but regularly, which is enabling our clients to become seen as experts in each of their fields.

Crucially, the information they are imparting on their target audience is being seen in a variety of areas.  Websites are great as long as people are getting to them, LinkedIn is great for networking and discussions, and Google+ is growing and will be great.

What Twitter does is allow you to ‘speak’ to a huge number of people, at no cost, and with little time.  Just make sure you apply a bit of thought to ensure your message is ‘on plan’ and you create a call to action (eg website links) and you have an effective marketing tool.

In a recent statistic I read (I know stats are what you want them to be but…) ‘80% of business decision makers now prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.’  By using the platforms social media provides, your company information can be seen this way.  Social media writing can easily be incorporated with Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, driving valuable inbound links for SEO.

I feel privileged to be involved in providing intelligent content marketing to clients who recognise what marketing actually should be, which consistent, ongoing, valuable information to customers is.  With the right marketing planning and delivery, customers will ultimately reward with their business and loyalty.

Yes, marketing is still what it always was – creating messages, identifying prospective customers and trying to influence their behaviour.  These days, it’s just being delivered in a different, I would say smarter way, and across different platforms, even Twitter.

Contact Appletree  ( and let us know if you have or haven’t seen sales from your social media plan – and yes, that does include Twitter!


How do you use Twitter?


In marketing terms, people view using Twitter in different ways. Some see it as a somewhere to make friends and listen to lots of gossip. Others use it for fact finding and a method for free and easy research. Others regard it as a voyeur’s haven, watching what others are saying and gleaning the latest news before it breaks. And then there are others who treat it merely as a place to feed your blog into and share expertise and tips.

So which scenario do you fit into?
Do you use your name in your Twitter username? Are you interacting freely with your followers? Do you start and partake in conversations? Do you write your tweets yourself? Are they spontaneous or composed beforehand? Do you keep an eye on Twitter throughout the day?
Do you use your business as your Twitter username? Are you representing a corporate identity? Do you only tweet what you’ve been told to say? Are you given free rein to reply? Do you find you’re repeating the usual mantra without any personal context?

Are you representing a brand on Twitter? Do you monitor the Twittersphere to see what others are saying about your brand? Do you intervene only to correct misconceptions? Do you promote facts and figures in order to spread awareness to a larger audience?

Are you using Twitter to spread your expertise through blog feeds and top tips? Do you use an automated service to carefully space out your tweets throughout the day? Is this to give the impression of a constant presence, or to capture different people in different time zones?

Remember, using social media should be a sociable affair, to create relationships with others in order to find out more about each other, with an aim towards long-term associations, referrals and recommendations, and maybe (or ultimately) business.

This mechanism for creating two-way, even multiple-way, communications with any like-minded person should not be abused by the never-ending desire to sell and make money, for cheap and easy research, or to crow about how wonderful you are.

Using Twitter means sharing resources and ideas, problems and answers, tips and expertise without a hint of selling, gossip and laughter, making connections and above all, friendship.

Failure to check your website could prove costly


The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced that its remit is being extended to cover marketing on websites.

From March 1 2011, marketing communications on your website and in other places under your control – like Facebook and Twitter – will have to meet the non-broadcast advertising rules as set out in the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code.

You need to make sure that your website is legal, decent, honest and truthful – which it really ought to be, anyway!

If you’re not sure if you comply or not, CAP has a range of training and advice resources. You can sign up to CAP services to make sure you’re up to speed with how the extended remit will affect you and how you can avoid being in breach of the rules.

More details and advice are at

More marketing methods for Twitter


Twitter is designed for communication and interaction. It isn’t somewhere just to tweet about what you’re doing or to thrust your latest blog post into the limelight. This is as bad as putting up a poster saying “collect your prize here” and then immediately going away without seeing if anybody is interested in collecting it. You’ve left nobody there to help promote this prize, engage with any interested persons attracted by the offer, answer anbody who wants to ask more questions, or collect information from those who want to sign up! What a wasted opportunity!

Putting up a tweet without monitoring the result is like going into a networking event, standing on a chair and shouting very loudly about what you do, and immediately leaving without bothering to find out what others think about it or even finding out about them and their businesses. Not only is this very rude, it is the same principle as those who thrust networking cards into people’s hands without any form of engaging, or talking endlessly about themselves without anybody else getting a word in!

To use Twitter properly for marketing purposes, it isn’t just a medium for your RSS feed outlet or to tweet about your latest successes or engagements in your diary. It’s somewhere to find out about other things, to put on your investigator’s hat, to sleuth your way about the Twittersphere picking up vital bits of information, to learn new material that could help further your business.

You could use as your personal search engine by inserting specially researched keywords related to your business that might be used in the conversations of your prospective clients. In fact, it’s like turning into a big eaves-dropper through search engine optimisation. By recognising that others have conversations, and don’t just tweet facts and blog posts without anything else, you home in on specific parts of what they are talking about that interest you.

Once you’ve established a series of tweeple who are talking about what your business is about, now is the chance to jump in and start engaging. Yes, you are allowed to gate-crash in Twitter conversations, as long as it’s relevant to what’s being said. But it must be done in a sociable style, without any hint of selling. There is nothing more of a turn-off than somebody who wades in with all guns firing trying to sell you something you haven’t asked for. Your style must be equally conversational, like if you were at a cocktail party and you overheard an interesting conversation. Subtle-like.

If you are successful, you are one step ahead to connecting properly, gaining their trust and forming a business relationship with them. As with all marketing, the softly-softly approach is best, feeding them beneficial information they can immediately use to make their lives better, befriending them so they become more comfortable with you, getting them to sign up to your newsletter or subscribe to your blog, gently engaging with them until they get to the state they are interested in doing business with you.

How should you use #ff effectively in Twitter?


For those who don’t already know, #ff is a hashtag that stands for ‘follow friday’. It is a fun gimmick that adds to the sociability element of Twitter, typically used on a Friday to allow tweeps (Twitter users) to recommend certain followers for others to follow.

Not only is it a way of recommending or being recommended, it is the altruistic part that appeals to many. “Wow, so-and-so must really like what I’ve been saying this week to want to #ff me!”

And that’s the crux. It should really only be used on tweeps who have been socially active on Twitter, by those who have been socially interacting with each other. If there has been a repartie between two followers over the past few minutes, hours, days, week or whatever, using #ff is another way of showing your appreciation for that communication, regardless of the outcome.

But then there are those that abuse the #ff – those that fill up their Twitter streams with great long lists of @usernames and the obligatory #ff at the beginning or end. Either it is because they feel compelled to #ff a series of people to be seen as participating properly on Twitter (which they are not), or it is a way of gaining notice to themselves (which is does, but for the wrong reasons).

If you want to #ff someone, it should be because you really want to, because there has been some successful interaction between each other. You feel this person is worth knowing, and others should know them too. You’ve enjoyed your conversations, or even the content of their Tweets, and it is worth advertising the fact that they deserve more publicity and recognition.

Therefore, when you #ff someone, add a reason why. Not only does it make your #ff recommendation more personal, it shows you really care about what you’ve just done, and there is a proper reason for your action. Twitter is so full of rubbish and inane performances, when someone does a Twitter application properly it really stands out and is more likely to be noted (and appreciated).

The importance of interaction


When you’re dealing with social media, one of the most important things to consider is interaction.

Interaction is when your readers, audience, fans, friends or whatever are compelled to respond to your social networking activities. This will happen when you post up something that is worth commenting on, full of value, beneficial and helpful, entertaining or educational, or even controversial, just begging for a response to counteract it or confirm their approval or agreement with it.

Blogs thrive from comments. Spiders register a comment as new material, so it can enhance a post by making it more attractive to the search engines. It also adds to the conversation because the reader is presented with new ideas and concepts that contribute to the subject matter or interest factor. Ideally posts should be written to encourage a comment, or contain a call to action to remind readers to leave feedback or their point of view.

Facebook works on interaction, as every time you post on your profile, or ideally on someone else’s profile as a comment to their status update, Facebook sees this interaction and clocks it as a match. The more interaction you have with your Facebook friends, the more likely you are going to see your posts or blog feeds on their profiles. If you don’t partake in lots of interaction on social networking sites, it’s not only the search engines that deem you to be inactive, its the social networking robots as well, which can be detrimental if you want to create interaction to help promote yourself or your business.

Twitter is the master of interaction, of course! It is all about interacting with your fellow Twitterers, chatting, commenting, retweeting, sharing in real time – generally forming relationships with your followers as you interact and find out what they are doing. Really this is not a place to be doing business in the old sense of the word, it’s about communicating and making friends, networking by being sociable, asking after their health, family or latest event, having a giggle over a piece of news or notification from elsewhere, exchanging information about each other as if you were face to face and not separated by the web in between two computers. It is a place to find out information, learn from a blog feed, gain trust and credibility by giving and sharing, having a conversation with real people who respond readily – in other words, interacting.

Using social networking sites, and also social bookmarking sites, needs commitment to fine-tune your interaction with your followers and friends. It’s no good having a fantastic blast one day, and then forgetting to continue for the next few days. Even if your followers forgive you, the search engines and social networking sites won’t. Robots don’t understand like humans do, and they see inactivity as exactly as what it is, and immediately your ratings go down, you loose those slots on your friends’ profiles, your stats take a plunge and your Twitter streams are dark and empty.

I know it’s hard to keep it up indefinitely, so it’s worth working out a social media diary to help you keep the momentum going. Plan in advance what you are going to say that month, or week if you think short-term, so that there is always information available to use when your inspiration dries up. It’s much easier to provide content, leading onto to some beneficial interaction, if you have a focus, goal or objective towards your social networking activities – get more leads, raise your profile, extend your expertise, collect more fans or ‘likes’, increase your subscription rates, develop your visibility on the net – need I go on?

And above all – it’s so important to have fun!

Baby Boomers, Generation X or Generation Y – who are your clients?


According to certain sources, Baby Boomers are people born before the late 1960s. Generation X people were born from then up to the 1980s. And Generation Y babies were born between 1980 and 2010.

Which ‘generation’ are you? And, more importantly, which ‘generation’ are your clients and prospects? My reason for asking is that the way in which you communicate with your clients will vary, according to their ‘generation’. Here’s how it works.

Baby Boomers like doing things the ‘traditional’ ways. They like brochures and websites that tell them exactly what they’re going to get. They go to networking meetings – but they don’t really like spending a long time getting to know people; they look for quick returns.

Generation X folk like interactive websites and blogs. They’ve started to tweet and can just about keep up the momentum. They are good at networking and like meeting people; they talk about challenges and how they can help, without going for the hard sell.

Generation Y people spend a huge amount of time on Facebook and Twitter. They have the latest gadgets and gizmos and use YouTube for searching the internet for what they need.

Why does it matter where your clients and potential clients hang out? Because for you to reach them and connect with them, you need to ‘hang out’ in the same places. You need to use the same media that they use, to get your message out to them. For instance, if your clients and prospects are Baby Boomers, don’t expect them to find you and speak to you on Twitter – because they’ve probably never even heard of it! If you’re looking for Generation Y people, don’t expect them to turn up at networking events and make sure you learn the language of Twitter, Facebook and whatever is coming next.

Whatever ‘generation’ you are from, think about the age of your clients and prospects. Then you can check out where they hang out, so you can hang out with them too and get your message out to them simply and effectively.