SMS Follows Twitter…All the Way to the Bank!

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TwitterAs a marketer and someone that tweets daily, I have completely adopted a conviction that Twitter is the most valuable piece of social media for companies that rely on offer-based marketing   to entice customers to patron, especially when combined with the increasing power of Foursquare. I will follow this post with thoughts on LinkedIn and Facebook and their role in social media strategies. Before I go into my thoughts, I want to show that I’ve done the research. Layered on top of this research is a daily obsession for engaging in social media on behalf of myself as well as B2B and B2C businesses in Las Vegas.

Twitter Food…for Thought

Here’s the real meat and the foundation for everything to follow in this post…

The RJMetrics site gives a ton of data on 2009 usage of Twitter:

  • Twitter ended 2009 with just over 75 million user accounts
  • The monthly rate of new user accounts peaked in July 2009 and is currently around 6.2 million new accounts per month (or 2-3 per second); this is about 20% below July’s peak rate
  • A large percentage of Twitter accounts are inactive, with about 25% of accounts having no followers and about 40% of accounts having never sent a single Tweet
  • About 80% of all Twitter users have tweeted fewer than ten times
  • Only about 17% of registered Twitter accounts sent a Tweet in December 2009, an all-time-low
  • Despite these facts, Twitter users are becoming more engaged over time when we control for sample age

Even more recently,The Huffington Post revealed current Twitter facts and figures:

  • Twitter now has 105,779,710 registered users
  • New users are signing up at the rate of 300,000 per day
  • 180 million unique visitors come to the site every month
  • 75% of Twitter traffic comes from outside Twitter.com (i.e. via third party applications)
  • Twitter gets a total of 3 billion requests a day via its API
  • Twitter users are, in total, tweeting an average of 55 million tweets a day
  • Twitter’s search engine receives around 600 million search queries per day
  • Of Twitter’s active users, 37 percent use their phone to tweet
  • Over half of all tweets (60 percent) come from third party applications
  • Twitter itself has grown: in the past year alone, it has grown from 25 to 175 employees

Now that you have some real info on Twitter behavior, let’s move on to how Twitter and SMS can work together to apply accountability and tracking to your Twitter campaigns…

SMS Marketing and Its Place in Social Media Marketing

Microblogging (fancy word for Tweeting) via Twitter is training 17,982,550 (based on the stats above this is the amount of Twitter users that are actively Tweeting) to send and receive 140-character messages. A language of hash tags, short-hand and abbreviations have developed an online culture of people that feel a connection to others that can comprehend and respond. This effect has snowballed as desktop applications like TweetDeck and HootSuite and mobile applications like UberTwitter make it possible for people to interact with Twitter non-stop and in a way that works for them. This has set the stage for a Twitter revolution for businesses that can grasp the way this social media world works.

Twitter seems to be the place where offers are likely to be accepted by users and not seen as an intrusion. There is a method to the madness. Twitter etiquette and the attitudes of the followers your business has should guide what you put out there in your tweets. Twitter users, as a whole, have been receptive to self-promotional messaging, but businesses on Twitter have been successful deploying offers by first building a positive reputation without hard selling. To put this into human terms, if I were to do nothing but talk about my work and sell people all day, no one would ever want to be around me…I’ve been successful in my profession by having the ability to connect with people on more than just what I do for a living. Twitter personas are the same. Having a genuine interest in what you’ve built a career on and sharing that with others that have a similar sense of passion is what inspires people to listen to what you have to say. Twitter is about having discussions with like-minded people. Deploying offers seems to work best on Twitter when they are tied to information and topics relevant to your group of followers; essentially your “offers” become a solution to a problem you’ve identified and discussed on your Twitter page.

Don’t take my word for any of this, take a look at these recent stats on the average Twitter user on Ask Aaron Lee.

Also, if you need a refresher on how Twitter differs from SMS, please read Marketing Showdown: Twitter vs. SMS on the mobileStorm Digital Marketing Blog. It takes a good look at the differences between Twitter and SMS.

Twitter is Only Part of the Equation

With all that Twitter can do, it can’t target those with timed accuracy based on a set of data points that you’ve collected. Twitter can be a great place to create brand fans, introduce the masses to your business and test offers with an engaged audience. Instead of just deploying offers and seeing what sticks, SMS will complete the trek from “Twitter follower” to “engaged customer.” Deploy offers with a text-in call-to-action. Tweet your offer and ask those that are interested to text a relevant keyword to a short-code to redeem a mobile coupon which can then be taken to a brick and mortar location. This will allow you to farm your Twitter followers and begin to collect real data on them. Also, there is a chance   that customer was interested in your Twitter offer, but was not ready to take advantage of it at that exact time. By asking them to text-in, it’s a “soft-take” that the prospect can commit to right away. Think of it as social media qualification. Now they have taken 2 steps toward becoming a customer:

  1. Becoming a follower on Twitter
  2. Texting in to receive offers

On top of self-qualifying, your followers have told   you what they are interested in by responding to a targeted offer. They are a “hot prospect” and you need to react quickly to capitalize on that. If you think about the 37% (and growing…) of active users that access Twitter via their mobile device, you can be pretty sure that you have an ideal situation to drive a real sale directly into your place of business. You can now begin to build data on this potential customer and influence their behavior in real time by delivering them a mobile coupon to their cell phone wherever they are. Should they not redeem the offer they texted-in to receive immediately, you can send them a more aggressive offer through SMS that will help close that gap and turn that person into a loyal and valuable customer.

Not only have you gained a new customer, but you’ve collected three very valuable data points almost instantly:

  • This customer is a Twitter follower and probably a loyal brand fan
  • This customer is interested in [insert whatever they ended up purchasing with the help of the coupon served via SMS]
  • The customer’s mobile phone number and permission to market to them

SMS Marketing Responsibility

Success will be partially predicated on communicating to your Twitter followers specific standards put in place by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). You will want to Tweet regularly the specifics of redeeming text offers and refer to your privacy policy. This will help your followers understand that you are going to be responsible with your mobile marketing program and warn them of any charges regarding receiving text messages. This practice will set up your followers with a sense of trust with giving you their information. In return you will gain trust and the ability to speak with that customer in the manner being proposed here.

With all that you’ve now been informed of, you can apply more metrics to your Twitter program. If you are a social media manager in your organization, you can make an argument for implementing mobile campaigns in this manner. The value of your current program is likely judged on how many offers are redeemed at the point of sale with an offer code. Now you can apply building a database of “hot prospects” to your list of achievements with a higher likelihood of capturing those customers in the future. If you are a social media agency, now you have another method of receiving bonuses for performance. If you are a business owner who doesn’t necessarily understand how Twitter can benefit your business, I’m not going to lie…there is some work involved, but SMS is the final piece of driving your followers back to your place of business.

Final Thoughts

If you are engaged in social media marketing and not making an attempt to drive your followers to subscribe to receive offers through SMS or email, you are missing a huge opportunity to build ROI into your social media marketing program. There are a percentage of your Twitter followers that will want to receive offers for your product or service. I recommend deploying offers through Twitter in one of three ways:

  • Randomly deploy offers on Twitter and track redemptions at Point of Sale
  • Deploy offers that require the follower to give you their email address and name
  • Deploy offers that require the follower to text in to receive a mobile coupon

Here’s a good rule of thumb for developing a program. Develop 10 offers that cannot be received by any other channel for Twitter followers. Sort them according to value from highest value to lowest. Take the top 3 offers and only make them available by texting in. Take the next 3 offers and only make them available by giving their name and email address. Take the bottom 4 offers and deploy them as general Twitter offers that can be redeemed at the Point of Sale by mentioning an offer code or the offer itself. This strategy will give your Twitter followers options while maintaining the most value in being a follower. You can begin to funnel your followers into a controlled marketing database that will drive real sales and real ROI for your social media efforts.


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9 Responses

  1. This article is very informative. I've been looking for a good argument to bridge the gap between social media and SMS because the parallel's of brand stickiness are so similar and one could truly be an extension of the other.

    I'll go ahead and syndicate this 🙂

  2. Thanks for the compliments. I'll plug Geoff from Raster Media. Great company in the custom development space and thanks Ed for the love.

  3. Sarah Foederer says:

    Great article, very informative!

    • Thanks for the compliment! We run into many companies confused by thinking that Twitter is a free form of SMS. The blog post by Jared Reitzin, "Marketing Showdown: Twitter vs. SMS" was good in telling the pros and cons of Twitter in relation to SMS, but I really wanted to show how the two were a marriage made in heaven for social media marketers having to push customers to a brick & mortar location. Hope it was mission accomplished.

  4. @Katie_Lou says:

    Love the facts. 80% of twitter accounts are inactive – crazy. And, of course, I'm a big advocate of serving SMS offers through any channel but Twitter does make more sense than other channels.

    • Thanks @Katie_Lou. Obviously a PRO like yourself would know best, so thanks for reading and commenting.

      ***Please follow @Katie_Lou on Twitter. She's done well in social media, online and mobile on behalf of some of the best companies in entertainment and hospitality.

  5. Eric Lynn says:

    Great Article Darren. It was in plain language that even a laymen such as myself could get it. It's packed full of info and healthy knowledge of a still misunderstood industry.

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