7 ways you’re failing at Twitter for online marketing

Twitter internet marketing fail

We’ve been talking a lot lately about using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as an inbound marketing technique to improve your overall Internet marketing results.

And there’s a good reason for that – according to a recent benchmarking report from Optify, Inc., 41% of traffic and over 26% of leads to B2B Web sites are driven by organic search results.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore social media – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others. Although social media drives less traffic than an organic search, those social media visitors usually become leads at a higher rate AND your social media activity influences how your site ranks in organic searches in positive ways.

But, here are 7 common things that businesses do to sabotage themselves and prevent them from getting full online marketing ROI from their social media posts.

1. Not being relevant


This should go without saying, but you’d be amazed at what people will do. So let me break it down. You have an audience. They follow you because you know a lot about about X. They do business with you because you offer services that help them with things related to X.  So talk about X.

You don’t have to talk about X 100% of the time, but try for 80%. And personal accounts are a bit different than business accounts. On my personal Twitter account, for instance, there are people that follow me because of the business I run but also because of the community initiatives I’m involved in and the broader ideas I’m interested in. So what I write about there is usually about X, Y or Z instead of just X. But I’m always thinking about some segment of that audience when I write.


2. Not being  provocative


I’m not saying you should go out and be mean to people (and, boy, do I have a case study about the bad things that can happen to your business when you do that). But don’t fade into the wallpaper, either.

Social media is an incredibly “noisy” environment – people have short attention spans and they have a lot coming at them. So break through that noise with something a little out of the ordinary. I could have easily called this post “7 tips to improve your Twitter online marketing reach”. But I didn’t. And, look, here you are.


3. Not being funny


I’m not saying you have to make people laugh all the time. But people love to laugh, and if you can help them do that, they’ll share your joke with their friends. And that’s when social media really starts to get good from a business perspective – when your message gets shared again and again.


4. Not being topical


The more you can connect your stories with the broader stories that are being told in the culture right now, the more likely you are to reach new people.  So, if you’re in the bicycle business in early 2013, you probably want to post about Lance Armstrong once or twice.  If you’re a law firm specializing in family law, talk about the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling on asset splits for common-law spouses.


5. Not using hashtags


Hashtags – and I’m talking mainly about Twitter here – are the way that you connect your topical posts with an audience that’s interested in them. For instance, people who are really interested in the launch of Research in Motion’s BlackBerry10 will track all of the posts that include the hashtag #BlackBerry10. So include that hashtag in your BlackBerry 10-related posts. Using a relevant hashtag for a topical post will expand your audience big time.


6. Not having landing pages


I see this all the time – companies who can’t figure out why they’re not getting any traffic or leads from social media and who aren’t linking back to pages on their own Web sites in their posts. So I’ll say it again: you need to be posting links to your own content and creating content that’s worth linking to, to get any business benefit at all from social media. Period.

That doesn’t mean that all your posts should point back to your own site. But if your content is good and not pure self-promotion, you can do that with a high percentage of them. (This is a good time to mention too, that although this article is really all about creating posts for social media, you should be listening and responding and being conversational, as well.)


7. Not measuring


How do you know which topics are relevant to your audience? How do you know what jokes and provocative approaches are resonating with people? How do you know which landing pages are generating leads? And how do you fine tune your approach to improve your results over time?

By setting goals and measuring, that’s how.

How many people shared your post? How many new followers did you get that week? How much traffic came to your site from that post? How many of those visitors became leads for your business? If you haven’t set up measurement tools to track and answer those questions, you’re flying blind and you’re unlikely to get the full marketing success you want from social media



  • Jackie Barr

    Okay, I always hoped I would somehow (by magic perhaps) figure out what the thing is about hashtags.  But so far it’s just not coming to me.  Frances de Sousa each night says “and thanks for using our “#citynews” and I have no idea shy.  So what are they, how do you use them, where do you use them and why do you use them?

    • KentWakely

      Hi Jackie.

      Great question.

      Using a hashtag is as simple as it looks – it’s a hash symbol, “#”, followed by some text.

      When people are interested in a topic or a brand, they’ll often search Twitter for hashtags related to that topic. And software that helps you use Twitter more effectively, like TweetDeck and Hootsuite, often allows you to save those searches and view a real-time stream of posts matching a given hashtag.

      So, if, as a small business marketer you include a relevant hashtag in your Twitter posts, it helps your message reach the people who are most likely to be interested in it.

      How do you find relevant hashtags? Do some Twitter searches around your topic and see what kinds of keywords other people are using.

      The way City news is using hashtags is a a little bit different. They’re trying to create a conversation about news events on Twitter and to brand that conversation with their own mark, so that #citynews becomes closely associated in people’s minds with local news events.
      That’s something that big brands with big media reach can pull off (and even then, there are fails). Us smaller fry usually need to piggyback on existing conversations.