Bad news I’m afraid. You can’t measure return on investment if you’re drowning in the sea of random chat on Twitter. Following conversations about runaway dogs in Richmond Park and Stephen Fry’s latest perfectly formed tweet will give you hours of pleasant diversion. A return of sorts but not, I’m sure, the return you were thinking about.
If you’re using Twitter with no strategy, then you will have no objective. No objective means no idea why you are there. Naturally that gives you nothing to measure. Vague ideas about making connections will stay just that, vague ideas.
Aspiring Ernest pig
You’ll get diverted by any number of random conversations and waste time. Confirming your first impression that Twitter is full of meaningless yakety-yak and talking pigs (oh yes, check out @ErnestPig!).
Eventually you’ll leave the Twitter sphere in disgust or assign it the role of pleasant time wasting like tidying your desk when really you need to work.
On the other hand, you could get yourself a strategy, something most Twitter newbies don’t have.
What is a Twitter newbie?
A Twitter newbie is often a Twitter cynic. New to the tools and with a healthy dose of scepticism, they often come to the Twitter party full of doubt and loathing. Isn’t Twitter full of meaningless chatter and talking animals?
Okay may be not loathing but just that familiar resistance we all have when faced with getting to grips with something new. Even an update to your mobile phone can cause that irritation and frustration while you find your way round a new interface. No one wants to waste their time.
“Tell me how I can measure my return on investment,” the Twitter newbie asks, Every penny conscious rural entrepreneur, quite rightly wants to know the answer. First you need something to measure. To find out what that is, you need a strategy.
Okay, so what strategy do you need on Twitter?
A strategy for your time on Twitter is simple to conceive but harder to implement (it takes discipline). Your Twitter strategy needs to consider these areas:
What do you specifically want to achieve? What’s your objective. Let’s say you want some publicity, you’d like to get your rare breed pork featured in a newspaper or magazine.
In order to get there you’ll have to work through a number of steps.
First, you need to know who to connect with to achieve your objective. In our example above there are several types of publications that might feature your rare breed pork. Perhaps food magazines, the recipe section of the weekly paper, regional magazines like Carmarthenshire Life, trade magazines like farm retail, or farming publications like Farmers’ Weekly.
Each of these publications has a different audience, so you need to consider why you want publicity. If it is to get more sales enquiries, then you would focus on the consumer publications.
So you set about finding editors, journalists and writers on Twitter who contribute to such magazines.
How do you find journalists and writers like these?
You probably won’t know their names, so search for the publication names for instance, “WesternMail” and also current topics that they may be writing about for instance Spring pork recipes.
So step one is finding those writers and journalists. And how to measure that?
At every stage, record hours spent per week on Twitter and your results. In this case, how many writers did you find and follow and how many have followed you back.
Stage 2, engaging writers in your product or service
This is where it gets tougher. If you bounce on to Twitter and bombard journalists with pleading tweets asking them to feature your rare breed pork you are going to annoy them and worse damage your business reputation.
Journalists know that businesses want free publicity so they will see you coming a mile off. However journalists and editors also want good content for stories. If you have a good story there is a strong chance of finding a publication that will want to feature that rare breed pork we used in the example above. But you have to give writers something different, something interesting that will get your story picked up. How do you do that?
Stage 2, the long game
The bad news it takes more than one tweet. To attract the attention of influencers and writers you need to build a picture of your product that shows its uniqueness and value. Then you need to engage in conversations with the writers. Just as you would if you met them at a networking meeting, you need to get to know them. Let them get to know you. Take an interest in what they do. Read their work. Be creative, give them images and words about your products and the life behind the business.
That takes time.
So during Stage 2, your hours spent on Twitter will increase. The results you are measuring may first be the number of relevant conversations you have with writers and journalists but ultimately you are after those features in publications.
Right now, you might be thinking, this sounds like an awful lot of work but ask yourself where else can you ‘chat’ with journalists from across the world writing about everything from food to farming? Twitter gives you unparalleled access to them. What you do with that opportunity will determine how much return you get on your investment.
Making the most of the opportunities
As with all social media platforms, the key is to create, share and broadcast good content. That can be images, stories, links and yes some chat! You are showcasing yourself and your business, telling your story. Engaging with others is not only rewarding in itself, it also adds another dimension to your business image on Twitter. This in itself can attract positive attention. By being clear why you are on Twitter, you also start to tune into people and conversations that help you promote or develop your business.
The opportunities for publicity and promotion can often be totally unexpected as Wigwam holidays found.
Wigwam Holidays (follow them @wigwamholidays) promote farm wigwam sites throughout the UK where glamping (more up market camping) is becoming very popular. Through Twitter, Wigwam Holidays got the opportunity to recommend a farm wigwam site for a location for a fashion shoot. If that resulted in images of a wigwam on a beautiful farm location appearing in a fashion magazine, how much was that conversation worth?
In PR circles editorial is estimated to be worth 3 times the value of a paid advert. So if a half page advert in a magazine is worth say £1500, the value of a half page feature is nominally worth £4500. We begin to see how targeted conversations could give you a very high return on invesment. What about other returns on investment?
Reducing spend on paid advertising
For larger businesses that have advertising budgets, Twitter and other social media platforms are providing an alternative to paid advertising. Calon Wen, an organic dairy co-op in West Wales has reduced advertising spend by 50% over 12 months and seen no drop in revenues, since spending just 4 hours per week using Facebook and Twitter.
One tweet from the wife of a Welsh Government minister alerted Calon Wen (follow them on Twitter) that Tesco in Cardiff had no Calon Wen milk in stock. A quick call to Tesco, who were unaware of the problem, got the shelves re-stocked quick smart. That timely communication saved Calon Wen from making an avoidable loss of trading sales that day. What can you expect once you’re more established on Twitter. Let’s take a look at a Twitter Pro, who is filling seats on hertraining courses.
From newbie to advanced level, leveraging the power of Twitter
Bricks and Bread Sustainable Living Centre run by Trudy Thompson is a dynamic social enterprise that has used Twitter to build an astonishing business hub in Aldershot, UK. Now Trudy is leveraging that learning by offering Twitter courses. She has over 7000 followers on Twitter. Here are the numbers.
Trudy spends 30hrs a week on Twitter. She promoted her free Twitter guide to her Twitter followers and in 4 weeks it had over 44,000 views of the pdf & ISSUU document. This was achieved because of the number of retweets she got. This was followed by promotion of her Twitter courses run every week. Trudy tweeted notifications about the courses 3 times a day for 4 weeks. She gets between 50 and 100 daily retweets. To date, the Twitter class is growing by up to 20 bookings a day. The average value of a booking is £37.50. Follow Twitter power user, Trudy @bricksandbread.
So what if you’ve only got 15 followers
You’re a newbie, you don’t have 7000 followers but you still want to measure results. Set out a clear strategy with specific objectives. Decide what you want to achieve at each stage, for example finding food journalists, then measure your progress and record hours spent per week. Do this for every stage of the process until you achieve your goals e.g. a feature in a magazine. Then work out the value of that result. The question to ask is could you achieve better results for the same time, no money investment using other types of marketing strategies. If you can, then go ahead.
Twitter is a gateway to a mind blowing number of opportunities but you can only find them if you map out a clear strategy. The fastest way to increase return on investment is to learn from those who are already using it successfully.
If you want intensive, hands on Twitter training for your staff or members, take a look at my Become a Twitter Pro (even if you don’t like small talk) courses, available throughout the UK.
For more questions answered about Twitter, follow me on Twitter and sign up for my enews giving you insights into creating engaging content that lead your customers to buy more.
Look out for Piglet Twitter Clinics coming soon to West Wales!