Beginners’ guide to making money with Twitter

I follow Twitter with great curiosity (Twitter name is @madcom, if you want to find me) as well as with some healthy scepticism. Friends, even those familiar with social networking sites, such as Facebook, ask me what is it all about (this is 2011). This is part of an answer for Twitter beginners.

Social network marketing

Twitter is a fascinating world, as is the whole online social networking universe. I won’t explain the workings of Twitter. It is simple and written about elsewhere (try Wikipedia) but what I will attempt to explain is how Twitter is operating in social network marketing and how it can be used to make money.

Twitter operates as part of the social media marketing machine so you need to understand social media marketing to understand Twitter’s uses.

Social network marketing or social media marketing are terms that are less understood and perhaps poorly defined. Social media marketing involves engaging with online communities to create brand awareness, to create opportunities through partnerships, to generate targeted traffic and, ultimately, to generate sales.

Back to marketing basics

To understand social network marketing lets start with the basics of marketing. Marketing is a process to match products or services to the needs or wants of the customers in a way that provides a profit for an organisation.

Marketing uses market testing methods to work out what the customers want, then develops a product or service to meet that want, and then promotes and advertises the product to attract the customers. Simple!

So how does Twitter help in these processes? Lets break the marketing process down to these three components:

  • finding out what the customer wants
  • creating the perfect product, and
  • then selling it

Looked at in these terms Twitter has a lot to offer.

Monitoring twitter mindshare

Mindshare is a term that is being used in the online social networking world to explain what the recognition level of a product is in the population. By following keywords (identified by hashes) or other search terms on monitoring sites you can monitor the Twitterverse (all that is happening on Twitter) for every mention of your product or company. Twitter because of its immediacy is an important indicator of the online mindshare.

This is a metric for a brand’s share of the collective mind! There are lots of other and more sophisticated methods to measure keywords that are being used across the online world to include Google and other important search engines.

Developing the perfect product

Monitoring mindshare provides the intelligence or information to develop the product or promotional message that will make the product more saleable. This is the product monitoring and product development part.

Monetising Twitter

This is the Holy Grail for Twitter. How is Twitter going to make money out of the whole Twitter world. No-one really knows how Twitter will make money but everyone seems to know about how it can be used to make YOU money.

How to make money using Twitter

Twitter CAN make you money in quite a few ways. It is a medium for getting messages out there so can be used as a great promotional and advertising tool particularly for international brands. Therefore you should be using it if you work for an advertising agency.

Twitter is a good method for building international brand. It will not work so well if you are a local business or in a niche market unless, as in all things marketing, you are creative.

Direct selling on Twitter is not encouraged. This is not so much because it is rude but mostly because it is too hard sell and therefore ineffective. The Twitter tweet is a short message and therefore does not allow anything more than headline-style persuasion, it is soft sell. However, the tweet can be used to direct people to websites or blogs where a more persuasive, promotional message can be used to persuade people to buy products. This is, of course, all about creating and driving website traffic.

Affiliate marketing

Companies either use their own marketers to drive traffic or they use affiliate marketers. Affiliate marketing is where the originator of the traffic gets paid for each customer or visitor to the owner’s site. This is where many people seek to make money online.

Affiliate marketing on Twitter requires that the originating marketer has enough influence with the Twitter community that they can direct large traffic volumes. This is why developing large followings on Twitter is so important. (It is one of the contradictions in Twitter that there is an expectation of a mutual exchange of messages between users. Those that have thousands of followers are unlikely to read the tweets of their followers.)

Providing help and expertise

The other way to make money on Twitter is to provide help to others to make money out of Twitter. Expertise in social network marketing is a rare commodity (in 2011) and there are those offering to sell that expertise. There are social networking gurus who can help you get traffic to your site or your affiliate’s site (I am not pretending to be one of them).

Get Twittering for money

So what does this mean for you if you want to make money from Twitter? You have several options:

  1. you can use Twitter as part of a larger branding and advertising strategy within your agency or company,

  2. you can develop an affiliate marketing strategy by developing a large enough Twitter following that you can direct significant, qualified traffic to target sites, or

  3. you can make yourself into an expert and sell your services to those that need it.

Thanks for reading this – no money required.

POSTSCRIPT: Madrigal Communications in its early days provided social media consultancy services. However since then we have specialised more in B2B marketing.