With the proliferation of new social media, every business must consider its audience in choosing which platforms to use for marketing and communication to their customers. There are too many of them to do justice to them all, and some of them will not give a good return on investment for time spent.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform for all segments of the American population – men, women, Boomers, Millennials, educated, urban, rural, and high and low income. For most businesses, investing at least some time in using Facebook to market to their audience will be a no-brainer decision. There are many other platforms that have differing degrees of popularity with various segments of the population – LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter are the best known. LinkedIn is for professionals, Instagram and Pinterest have a built-in appeal for a visual audience. Twitter, however – Twitter is ideal for communicating thoughts and ideas to a targeted audience.
Twitter is a popular social media platform particularly among Millennials. In a Pew survey from January of 2017, 36% of users ages 19-29 said they had a Twitter account. Compare this to 22% of people ages 30-49 and 18% of people ages 50-64. Many Millennials get most or all of their news from social media. They also use it to find and socialize with people who have like (or opposing) interests or political points of view, to look for articles of interest, share their own content, or see what topics are trending at the moment.
Because Twitter is easily searchable via hashtag, users don’t have to waste time scrolling to find what they want – although scrolling through Twitter can be fun too. Anyone can customize their experience by following interesting accounts or blocking topics they do not want to see. It’s easy for users to follow others on Twitter, but getting followers – genuine ones with like interests who will interact and engage is much harder.
Any business that decides to focus on Twitter for its social media should consider cultivating an engaged audience time well spent. Sending tweets out into the ether is a waste of time if no one is reading them, responding to them, liking them, or retweeting them. The goal for any business is to build a core audience who will “introduce” its tweets to their own audience via retweeting or subtweeting. In order to accomplish this, marketers have to be social themselves. They have to like and retweet other Twitter accounts’ tweets, find interesting or entertaining content and put it out there, commenting on it when appropriate. Users can easily tell when Twitter accounts are for marketing only. These accounts will be ignored or tuned out like people tune out commercials.
It’s on the marketer, then, to be interesting in order to get eyeballs. This means cultivating a voice, sharing opinions, becoming a trusted source of information, creating and sharing new original content, or otherwise standing out. No one goes to Twitter to be marketed to, but if you develop an audience that finds you funny, fascinating, or unique, they will be interested in your company’s products and services too. People don’t mind buying goods or services from people they know and like. In fact, they enjoy it.
It’s still true that any company should avoid being overtly controversial or political unless controversy or politics are built into its brand. One pitfall of Twitter is that it’s easy for users to find “offensive” tweets and target that user for abuse. Twitter mobs are real, and they’ve cost more than one company customers and gotten people fired. Tread carefully, then. It’s wise to survey the terrain and make a map of where it’s safe to go before you set out. This doesn’t mean that Twitter is not worth exploring, just that it has its share of perils for the unwary or the unwise.
If your business has a customer base among Millennials, consider marketing to them on Twitter – especially if you’re comfortable with having a unique, identifiable voice or spending time building an audience. Twitter is easy to use and has an enormous potential audience, especially among college students and younger adults. Used correctly, Twitter is capable of amplifying your message to an exponentially larger audience than what your company website might attract.