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This post should have been written a long time ago.  There is a Twitter tactic that I have been trying to refine on and off over the last two years.  The tactic aims to convert people who express intent on Twitter.  So far, the results have not been fantastic, but the tactic has shown glimmers of potential.  I believe that if I seriously sat down and worked out a process for this tactic, it might become a valuable addition in my social media marketing tool box.

Credit for inspiration

About two years ago, a blog post written by Mygola detailing their successful customer acquisition campaign on Twitter showed up in StartupDigest.  The underlying theory behind this Twitter campaign was that most Twitter users have very few followers and as a result are not tweeted at very often. So when the typical Twitter user gets a mention tweet, they will pay attention and read it.  Mygola’s theory resonated with me because as a non-celebrity on Twitter, I rarely get tweeted at.  When I do, I always read the tweet and get very excited.

Targeted Twitter Campaign Attempt #1

To execute on this Twitter campaign Mygola built a custom tool to search for relevant travel tweets.  Unfortunately, I did not have the technical expertise to do the same, so I tried different off the shelf ways to accomplish the same goals.

My first attempt at executing my own version of Mygola’s campaign occurred at Wednesdays.com, a platform that allowed it’s users to create and run their own reoccurring lunch groups. At the time, the peninsula Lean Startup Circle lunch group was faltering.  Members were just not RSVPing and there were few new members joining the group, which drove me to brainstorm methods get qualified traffic to the group landing page.

My first thought was to reach out to people in the peninsula who were tweeting about Lean Startup.  On the week that I started the campaign, Eric Ries had just visited the Bay to promote his book, so the timing could not have been better.  With the advanced Twitter search tool I was able to narrow my search for Lean Startup tweets to within 50 miles of Mountain View.  I manually pulled the relevant tweets, with a focus on questions about Lean Startup, into a spreadsheet and began typing out response tweets.  After I sent out the tweets, I kept track of the responses  in the spreadsheet.  I kept a careful record of how many clicks my tweeted out bit.ly link received in order to keep track of what copy worked.

It was a tiny sample, but the tweets generated close to an 80% CTR.  However, nobody I tweeted at signed up for the lunch group.  Editing the landing page was out of my control, so I moved on and rethought my approach.

For the next campaign, I focused on getting existing members of Lean Startup Circle to attend lunches.  I separated out members into groups depending on how many lunches they attended and tailored the copy accordingly.  This round of tweets led to a high rate of user interaction, as many members tweeted back at me.  However, once again it failed the conversion test as nobody signed up for a lunch.

Targeted Twitter Campaign Attempt #2

Almost exactly a year later, I am working at InternMatch trying to sign up more employers to the platform.  I did a Twitter search for “hiring an intern” and was staggered by the amount of employers tweeting open internship positions and even with emails attached!  Not wanting to taint the InternMatch account with soliciting tweets, I created a burn account but was promptly banned after just 5 tweets.

Once again shifting gears, I decided to turn my attention to extracting the many email addresses that employers were tweeting.  Using Topsy, which is much more crawler friendly than the Twitter search page, I was able to gather a significant amount of emails each week.  Conversions off these Twitter emails were not particularly high,  in fact, I believe I only made one sale out of about 100 emails sent.

Suggestions?

Targeting Twitter users who show intent through their tweets, I believe is pretty solid.  The targeted tweets I have sent have been getting good engagement, of course engagement means nothing with out that conversion to sale or sign up.

If anybody has solid ideas or experiences in:

  1. Getting sales through Twitter leads
  2. Setting up a Twitter account that won’t get banned for soliciting

I would love to hear from you.  Tweet me @JonChiehLau

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Worked growth marketing in startups my whole career and now sharing my stories on this blog. Always down to grab some coffee and talk shop.

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