The Golden Rule of Twitter Marketing

Para hablantes de español, leer Le Regla de Ora de Twitter Marketing.

You know Twitter, right? It’s the social network that ties people together in a pervasive conversation about whatever is happening at a given moment. Sort of like Instant Message. Sort of like Blogs. But in 140 characters or less. From Blackberries and Cell phones to desktop apps and the web. Twitter is the manifestation of a cool new trend of microcontent.

I love Twitter. I’ve been using it since February and while I was not the earliest adopter, I was an early adopter. I’ve seen Twitter emerge as the de facto “back channel” at conferences, the catalyst for impromptu meetups and yes, as a marketing device.

More and more, I’ve watched marketers jump on board the Twitter bandwagon but I wonder how many people really “get it”. See, Twitter cultivates transparency. The same people who drop daily nuggets of profound insight into Twitter during the day, might Tweet about taking their kids to the mall. Increasingly, folks are Tweeting their locations as they take roadtrips with special commands meant to plot their location on a map. These same people in the next breath are explaining why it is that this company or politician is the real deal.

Twitter’s power is in authenticity and transparency. I’ve often said that brand is not something that can be controlled by companies. Brand is controlled by customers. Trust is controlled by companies. If customers don’t trust a company, their brand is useless. If they do trust a company, that company has secured a marketer for life. Trust is built by authenticity, by transparency. It is the thing that allows companies to function in the 21st century.

So how does Twitter work for marketers? Well, for some marketers, they are oblivious to transparency. For instance, you can always tell who is “in the conversation” and thus more transparent and trustworthy, by looking at the ratio of “Followers” to “Friends”. Never trust anyone who has a significantly disproportionatly higher number of friends to followers. Friends are defined as people who you are listening to. Followers are those that are listening to you. One way conversation is never a great catalyst for communication or transparency.

Other marketers might follow lots of folks and have lots of friends following them, but if the entirety of their Tweets consist of promotion of their products, you have a one way street. Again, never trust one way streets. There’s dragons in those hills.

I always find tremendously compelling products via Twitter simply by engaging in conversation with people. There are a number of folks on Twitter who have recognized the power of Twitter as a medium for promotion, yet they engage their followers in conversation – sometimes unrelated to their product. The amazing dynamic here is personal brand.

As an example, NewMediaJim is an NBC cameraman. He is not really promoting NBC in what he does, yet everyone is accutely aware that NBC is his employer and based on that knowledge, it’s very insightful to read his Tweets about his various excursions into his career life – interviews with folks, drives to military bases to meet with military folks coming back from the war, etc. This is compelling content.

On the flip side of the NBC game is TodayShow, the official Twitter source connected to the NBC morning show. Here is an example of Twitter marketing gone bad. There is no conversation. There is no appeal to join into the community opf conversation. It is a public relations office releasing press releases over Twitter in 140 characters or less.

If I had to detail a Twitter Golden Rule it would:

Tweet about others at least as much as you Tweet about yourself.

Make sure that your marketing efforts on Twitter engage in conversation. Ensure that you are promoting someone else’s content as much if not more than you are promoting your own. Make sure people know who you are. Twitter is personal, so build your personal brand. It will only help your business. Trust me.