Marketing in 140 characters or less: The complete guide to Twitter


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Twitter on a tablet

Over the last decade, Twitter has been proving to the world that you can really pack a punch with 140 characters or less. From politicians to feisty fast food chains, many have been in the spotlight as of late for dramatic opinions, thought provoking ideas, or just silly tweet wars.

Let’s take Wendy’s, for example, who had a whirlwind of a week when one sassy social media marketer decided to put a so called “troll” in his place. Wendy’s was rolling in great press and seemed to be on top of the world for their witty responses until they accidentally tweeted a meme which, in the last year, was recognized as a hate symbol by the Anti-defamation League. Yikes!

This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve seen a brand, politician, celebrity or just tweet-happy individual go down the wrong path, however. Brands like Tinder, Ryanair, and Nokia have all come under fire for public meltdowns.

As a marketer, you may be hesitant to tweet after seeing so many similar, probably creative and like-minded, individuals get in trouble on this platform. Don’t shy away from it, however. Twitter may be intimidating, but it is such a powerful platform for developing your brand and getting your word out to the masses. Not to mention, there is incredible potential for brands to directly interact with their audience. A whopping 80% of twitter users have mentioned a brand in a tweet at one point or another.  

So, besides tweet wars, what sets Twitter apart from other formidable social media platforms? It may seem like Twitter has been left in the dust by competitors, such as Facebook or Instagram, however; the social media platform still hosts an astonishing 310 million active monthly users who are responsible for the 500 million tweets published daily, as well as, a unique array of marketing opportunities.

Marketing Opportunities on Twitter

Social Listening

After a quick search on Twitter for #bathandbodyworks I’ve already come across some positive customer experiences shared by tweeters who are boasting about great sales and being able to unwind with their favorite Bath and Body Works scented candle after work. Likewise, some not so cheerful travel experiences have been shared by passengers flying with one of the US’s top airlines.

My point? Even if a brand isn’t actively engaged on Twitter, there is no reason they shouldn’t use it as a social listening tool. Surprisingly, 30% of tweets do not include the company handles when speaking about/to them. This doesn’t mean those messages are lost, however. Twitter provides a search engine where brands can search for themselves to find out what their customers are saying. There’s also a stack of Social Listening tools that can allow brands to take this even further. Furthermore, marketers can take it to the next level and use Twitter to gain valuable insights on the competitive landscape or industry trends.

Customer Service

Customer service goes hand-in-hand with social listening. Brands have the opportunity to interact with clients and to better their experience by responding to and acting on the messages clients are sending their way. In fact, companies using Twitter for customer service see a 19% lift in customer satisfaction – that’s huge!

To really show your customers that you care and you’re there for them, open an additional Twitter account, specifically focused on answering questions and handling tricky situations. Industry leaders such as Nationwide and Hilton are a good example with their support accounts @AskNationwide & @HiltonHelp.


No tweet is complete without the addition of a few relevant hashtags. Why’s that? By adding hashtags, you will amplify your potential reach beyond that of your follower base.

Twitter users can search for hashtags that interest them or they can click on hashtags from their main feed to find related tweets. Therefore, relevant and compelling hashtags will put you and your content in front of new audiences that are most likely interested in what you’ve got to share. So rather than battling with the seemingly impossible algorithms of other social media platforms, try your hand at expanding your organic game with hashtags on twitter.  

Some helpful hashtag tips:

  • Stick to no more than two or three hashtags per tweet (more than two hashtags drops engagement by 17%)
  • Select popular & relevant hashtags to increase reach
  • If creating your own branded hashtag, invest time and content into making it something that sticks and is recognizable  #targetrun #notanotherdashboard

Creative ways to market on Twitter

Humanize your brand & have fun!

It’s refreshing when brands add a bit of personality to their interactions or show off company culture so give it a try. In order to get started, find out what will resonate with your audience. Take advantage of social listening opportunities, and depending on your target audience, tap into relevant trending topics and culture.  

Join forces

Cross-channel campaigns only gain more traction when advertised homogeneously on multiple platforms. Invite your followers to do something fun, such as dropping in to your stores to play with Snapchat Geofilters. The opportunities to acquire new customers, build brand loyalty, and to grow your followers are endless!

Ask your audience

If you really want to know what your audience likes – just ask them! Not only are polls engaging, but you can find out some valuable information on audience personas and what they may or may not be interested in.


While you don’t want to drown your followers out in promotional material, no one said you couldn’t promote yourself every once in awhile. If you’d really like to convert some of your followers, try hosting a flash sale. The more specific you are on the timeline, the more likely you are to create a sense of urgency.

Real-time, real-life

Breaking news spreads like wildfire on Twitter, and part of the lure of this network is the speed of information. One way brands can tap into that is by broadcasting their own happenings with raw, uncut, real-time footage with Twitter live – powered by Periscope.

This new feature is still in early stages of adoption, but many marketers are already using it to give their followers a backstage pass to company happenings, raise awareness for events, and to engage with new audiences.  It even has some features yet to be added by it’s main competitor, Facebook live, such as the ability to sketch over live video.

Entice your audience to share your content

Would you like to spread your message even farther? Entice your audience to help you do so by offering prizes for retweets or the use of a branded hashtag. Motorola did just that in its popular #InASnap campaign where they experienced a 19x lift in daily mentions and an incredible 87.5 million impressions.

Introduction to Twitter Ads

Aside from organic marketing, Twitter also has a number of paid options to allow you to increase reach and better engage with your target audience. These options include:

Promoted Tweets can be any tweet (including image and video tweets) that you’d like to share with new audiences in order to expand your reach. Use them to drive traffic to your website, spread the news on current events, announce promotions or sales, or even just to share your best content.   

Promoted Accounts: would you like to increase your followers? If you promote your account, your profile will show up in the “Who to follow” section for your target audience, making your profile more discoverable to people who likely have interest in your business. In turn, you’ll be able to grow your followers base while increasing brand awareness.

Promoted trends: You can get just about anything for a price – even your own trend! The difference between a promoted trend and trending topic is simply the promoted icon that will appear under the hashtag of your choice. Promoted trends aim to increase brand advocacy and mentions by amplifying awareness, provoking conversation and stimulating engagement. They are best used for time-specific events or campaigns.

Twitter Cards are similar to promoted tweets as they appear in the stream. They also, however, include a headline, image and call to action. Cards can be created for:

  • Lead generation: Do you have white papers or guides available for download? Hook them up to a lead generation card and you’ll be able to build up your mailing list and share content directly from this Twitter card.
  • Apps: Increase downloads by advertising your app. The card will send clickers directly to the app or play store to download it.
  • Website: drive traffic to your site. The card includes a “Read more” button so try to pick compelling content and imagery to go with it.

Thanks to Twitter’s large and diverse demographics, you can fine tune your ad targeting strategy to really match your ideal audience. Target by keywords, influencer followers, email, TV preferences, events attended or even via remarketing segments.


First things first, before you start reporting on your Twitter metrics, sit down and plan out the objectives you are aiming for. Next, match those objectives to metrics that will really tell you how you’re doing.

So, for example, If you’d like to increase brand awareness, measure followers and reach.

If you’d like to increase brand loyalty and engagement, measure your engagements as well as engagements in comparison to your total followers to see the ratio of high-quality followers. Likewise, use tables to analyze top tweets to reveal the type of content your followers are most attracted to.

If you’re aiming to increase leads and conversions, track the number of click-throughs to your website and conversions made.
Feeling inspired? Share your top Twitter tips and tag @Sweetspot!

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Holly McKendry

Sweetspot Marketing Director. Wakeboarder & travel enthusiast. Communication Studies graduate of Texas State University, San Marcos.

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