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Taking Niche Marketing to the Tweets - Twitter Niche Strategies
You can't read a blog, a newspaper, or graffiti on the subway wall these days without seeing something about Twitter. The microblogging service has taken over the public consciousness in a way only technology can - there is a certain inevitability to the way people talk about Twitter now. Major social networks have adapted their own offerings to include "status updates" and micro-sharing capabilities. And just like any trend, there are countless opportunists trying to sell "foolproof systems" to make money off of a Twitter following. The gold rush is on.
Here's the one thing to remember from this article: the owners of Twitter do not have a business model. There are ways to make money, but they haven't picked one yet. Although Twitter (or something like it is here to stay, no one has cracked the code on how it can pay for itself. It seems ridiculous to think that any of the snake oil salesmen know any better. Even worse, these systems only fuel the proliferation of spam accounts on Twitter. Put away your wallet - you are not going to make money from these jokers.
It's not all doom and gloom, however; gradually, a model is emerging that looks a lot more like a traditional advertising model. From an advertiser's perspective, Twitter is just another "media buy," and Twitter users are channels within that media. This may be boring, and it may be old school, but it offers hope for advertisers and Twitter users alike. It retains the value of engagement that has been so important for so long, and it returns advertising on Twitter to the fundamentals - the audience must perceive value in the ad. The content must be worth the interruption, both within the ad itself, and the stuff around it. TiVo and other DVR technology notwithstanding, people will suffer through an inordinate amount of advertising if they like the show they're watching.
If you're willing to commit to providing service to your audience, they will likely be willing to receive the occasional advertisement. After all, it's just one tweet in the sea of rich content that you're providing.
Want to Stand out to Advertisers and Users Alike? Pick a Niche!
Niche blogging (sometimes called "Bum Marketing," after Travis Sago's claim that he could teach a homeless person how to do it) involves writing keyword-rich content on blogs and article services so that people searching for information on those keyword topics will find the article, learn something, and (hopefully) make a purchasing decision that benefits the author. They may click on an affiliate link, they may see an ad on the blog that points them toward a store. The route is not as important as attracting attention and providing quality content.
Let me say that again: the key to success is attention and quality content. That's all you need - and in fact one of the great advantages of article marketing is that you don't have to spend a mint to get started. You just have to care about what you're writing about, use keyword phrases liberally, and stay focused on writing lots and lots of blog posts and articles.
Without even going through the trouble of blogging, marketers can employ a variation of the Bum Marketing model on Twitter. Rather than a blog, you have a tweetstream, but in both cases the content is focused on a particular topic or cluster of related topics. (For that reason, Twitter can compliment an existing blog marketing effort. But for the purposes of this Hub, let's assume it stands alone.) There are many services that allow companies to market their products on Twitter. Magpie, Tweetbucks, Adjix and Sponsored Tweets all give Twitter Users a way to make some money by "renting ad space" within their timeline. A Twitter niche account, whose owner is committed to providing quality information, has license to promote products from affiliate partners that make sense for a given niche. You should, of course, let your followers know that you trust and like those products. This is a trust and integrity issue, and a big deal right now in the blogosphere. Be white hat about it - disclose early and often. Remember, if you have attention and quality, those ads and affiliate links will likely be accepted as par for the course. Those followers who drop you for monetizing your timeline were not going to buy anyway.
Action Plan for Niche Tweets:
- Pick your niche. It should be something you're interested in, even passionate about. Are you a health/life insurance agent? Do you enjoy skiing? Do you know more about Italian cuisine than anyone you know? There's your niche. Have you always wanted to learn a musical instrument, write a novel, run a 10K? Those are good ones, too.
- Pick a fantastically great username on Twitter that clearly conveys your interest in your chosen niche. If you can use an in joke or play on a "term of art" within the vocabulary of the niche you're focusing on, so much the better. At the same time that you sign up for the Twitter account, consider signing up for a free account with a service like SocialOomph. This service and many others offer ways to vet followers, automate your tweets, and build an audience that don't involve being lame. Pick tools that work for you and stick to them. Many of them are "freemium" tools, so if you become a Twitter mogul, upgrade away. In the meantime, you can do just fine with free tools.
- Sign up for Tweetbucks. Spend some time combing through the merchants directory and bookmark merchants that are relevant to your niche.
- Tweet as normal about the niche that you have chosen. Tell stories about practicing for the 10K, or share links to Italian recipes. Use Mr. Tweet and other Twitter directories to find folks with a demonstrated interest in your niche, and follow them. Watch your timeline for ways to engage with these folks. DO NOT use an "instant followers" website. DO NOT set an automated DM for people who follow you (this is still an open question, but public opinion seems to think that such DMs are spammy).
- When you hit 200 followers, you may start linking products from Tweetbucks-affiliated merchants (before this you don't have a channel, and you risk slowing down your momentum by appearing one-dimensional or spammy). Disclose your use of Tweetbucks: add a disclosure badge to your Twitter background so that people know that there may be the occasional ad in your timeline. Consider picking a hashtag that you use consistently to identify Tweetbucks tweets.
- At 500 followers, you may sign up for Magpie. Do not assume that you will automatically get many ads from the service, but depending on your niche, you may see a lot of activity around your account. Be sure to set an ads-to-regular-tweets ratio of 1:30 at least. Given that you are already running ads via Tweetbucks, you risk diluting your timeline too much if you get greedy with Magpie. Start monitoring which of the two services give you better conversions.
- At 4 months from the inception of the Twitter account, you may sign up for Sponsored Tweets. Until your account is 120 days old, you will not listed for advertisers, so it's really not worth. Sponsored Tweets and Magpie are very similar, so again, be sure to balance the amount of advertising content you're pushing through your channel.
You now have three services working for you, and hopefully a stable base of followers. If you've worked hard to find quality information for your audience, it has likely grown (and grown loyal) over the time that you've been conversing with them. The products you promote are logical extensions of your niche focus, and your attitude should be that of a trusted friend recommending a product to a buddy.