Twitter as a Business Research Tool
Using Twitter as a business research tool doesn’t just mean finding out facts on Twitter: It means that you, your company and your products should be researchable too. The best strategy involves starting out with focused branding. This will quickly allow you to research the impact of your own brand within Twitter, as well as your competitors’ brands.
Step 1. Brand Management
Don’t leave your branding to chance. Following a plan is more likely to help you quickly attract and secure the minimum 1,000 followers you really need in order to gain accurate tracking results.
You can use both native and third-party Twitter tools like HootSuite and Twitalyzer to help manage your brand and find out what people are saying about it, as well as how your brand is perceived – but before this will work, you need to make sure you’ve created a strong Twitter presence. Fill out as much of your profile as possible, using your audience’s most popular search keywords; and brand with your business name.
Register using your name in the “Full Name” field and your company name as the “Username”… unless you are branding individual products. In that case, register as your company name in the “Full Name” field and use your company name plus product name connected by an underscore, as Guy Kawasaki did for his Alltop content aggregator (which covers multiple niches) and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream did, to brand each of their flavors.
Use common sense and keep your target audience in mind, when creating company Twitter accounts. For example, “Benandjerrys_Strawberry” would be too much of a mouthful, so the ice cream company registered the Twitter Full Name to this account as “benandjerrys” (to ensure all searches concerning their ice cream would display all account results) and “BnJ” for the common part of each flavor account username; plus each individual flavor for the latter part of each username.
And since 50% of all customers follow a brand for customer service, be sure to create a customer service Twitter account too, if your business involves more than a handful of clients.
List your business Twitter account in Twitter directories such as Social Brand Index and Twellow, making sure you place yourself in the correct category, to increase your chances of showing up in search results for those categories.
Use your best keywords; and in your Twitter Profile, speak directly to the people you want to attract – not about yourself.
Don’t forget mobile users…
Twitter’s own official blog reported earlier high engagement from mobile users, who find Twitter easier to handle on mobiles than other social networks.
The blog study’s conclusion: Mobile users follow brands and almost half these users recommend brands they follow – so if your target market members are mobile users, you can’t afford to be casual about your Twitter presence.
Once you have set up strong Twitter Profiles for your company accounts, researching activity around your own brand becomes much easier, with more accurate results.
Step 2. Topic Research
And people who throw references to currently trending celebrities into business blog posts are more often than not doing themselves no favors at all, since they are likely to attract:
- Zero business searchers
- Annoyed searchers looking for news about their favorite celebrity – only to find one skimpy reference something along the lines of “Lady Gaga has the right idea about marketing”.
To find trends relevant to your business: Use Twitter’s own Advanced Search page.
Simply enter your keywords, and view the results.
Notice the wide, practical and useful varieties of search parameters the Advanced Search function offers:
- Words – includes hashtags, exact phrases, any or all of “these words” and “written in”
- People – you can search particular tweets to and from specific accounts, as well as searching tweets mentioning specific accounts
- Places – use geo-targeting by searching tweets mentioning specific places and nearby locations
- Other – you can also specify that posts you are searching for be positive, negative or questions. And you can include retweets.
Other Top Tips for Topic Research:
- If you want to be counted among Twitter’s top influencers, you need to know that Twitter itself measures this by the number of retweets you generate.
One quick way to increase your retweets: Keep your tweets shorter than 100 characters.
And ask your followers to “Please retweet”.
- If you want to track your own retweets, an easy, free way is to use HubSpot’s latest tool, Who Tweeted Me.
In addition to Quick Stats, the report generated when you enter a Twitter URL also reports on the URL’s most influential retweeters, as well as potential reach and timelines. (Note, however, it determines influence by the number of followers per each retweeter.)
You can also quickly drag the “Analyze in WhoTweetedMe” bookmarklet to your browser bar.
Keeping track of who retweeted you and what they retweeted can not only help you monitor your brand, but give you valuable clues as to which subjects (via your tweets) are “hot” for your followers (and target market); which ones make them interact with your tweets – and which ones leave them cold.