Friday, August 27, 2010

Marketing for Small Business Via Twitter

Okay, everybody in the world is on Twitter, or they think they should be. Truth be told, Twitter can be a powerful marketing engine or colossal waste of time. As with all social network marketing, doing it right means learning solid technique and return on investment (ROI) is measured in time spent rather than marketing dollars.

There's lots of techniques that tell you how to get huge lists of followers on Twitter. There is even software that auto follows Twitter users, and those who don't reciprocate are automatically deleted after a day or two to prevent Twitter from shutting you down. (Twitter has an algorithm that assumes you only follow a certain percentage higher than those who follow you.)

My experience with the software robots is that you end up with a massive list of other people who have software robots. If you want to impress people with huge numbers of followers, go for it. If you actually want to make money... you may want to try focusing on quality rather than quantity.

One of my companies created a viral message that turned 31 followers into 2100 orders in 90 minutes!

The Kungaloosh Gourmet Tea Company is a big part of my million dollar project. Over the past year we created some infrastructure to buy and sell tea over the Internet. We've done a couple of events to promote the company and gather some first customers. Our total customer base was 1400 people. We had an opt in mailing list of 1100.

Our Twitter following, however, was embarrassing. Approximately 2 dozen people had signed themselves up from our website. Our Facebook page had done a little better with about 280 "likes".

We decided to do a free giveaway. Unfortunately, I wasn't eager to give away tea to my current customer list. I wanted new customers. I went through our Facebook fans and made a list of those that have rather large following. I sent them a personal message through Facebook telling them about the promotion and asking them to help. Then I told them "this thing is going to launch like a rocket, so make sure you get your freebie order placed before you repost it." In a sense, I created an air of accountability. In these personal messages I had given them access to a secret free samples page not available on our website. They got a free sample, and felt compelled to share it.

Over the next 24 hours we got about 200 orders, about half of which were from existing customers and the other half were new people.

That's when we hit critical mass. Our offer got picked up by a couple blogs that try to find freebies on the Internet. Most of these blogs use Twitter to promote their posts. Furthermore, they all read each other's blogs and steal free offers.

Within minutes we doubled to 400 orders, within 90 minutes we had 1800 and had to cancel the free promotion because of the cost of shipping. Rather than stop the promotion completely, we simply slowed down the momentum. We still offered the product for free, but now we were charging $1.99 shipping. We still got over 300 orders at this price within the next few hours.

At the end of the day we were able to add 1794 NEW microphone names to our e-mail roster. We started packing shipments simultaneously while marketing to this new group. Our mailing list grew from 1100 to just shy of 3000 in 24 hours. Furthermore, these are customers. Even though we gave them something for free, they had tried our product. It's always easier to sell to a customers then to a prospect.

The irony is that our twitter list is still only 41 followers. The difference, however is that most of his followers are eager and willing to pass our message along.
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