Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Keeping Your Twitter Stream Content Flowing – 24/7:

Keeping your brand in front of the Twitter universe is quite a challenge. Because the stream is continuous, fluid and ever-changing I will leave that subject (analytics) for another post.

Here’s how we addressed feeding content –

1. Segmentation: We segmented our Tweets categories by:

- News (breaking with commentary and high-utility)
- Sell (soft, hard)
- Education
- Awareness & Brand
- Public Service

2. Tweet Category Assignments:

I assigned the above Tweet category responsibilities to 4 (virtual) part-time staff on a staggered time basis. (I create the ‘sell’ category).

These resources are located locally and off-shore. I performed the training.

Resource 1 – newsworthy items + commentary; and education. (this resource was a journalist)

Resource 2 – awareness and brand (this resource has a digital marketing background)

Resource 3 – late evening newsworthy items and commentary and public service. (intern)

Resource 4 – supplemental research (scan for all categories) (retired marketing consultant)

These resources are a mixture of volunteer (retirees) and paid resources. There is some internal competition as to what Tweets have the most impact. I perform quality review for most Tweets with ongoing coaching. Once per week we have a Tweet Review that covers quality, timeliness and a host of other subjects.

3. Research Tools:

We use, for example: Copernic, Google, Lexis, Blog tools and a host of other utilities for research.

4. Scheduling & Delivery:

We have a Master Tweet Scheduler (Excel used collaboratively) by day-of-week, and use that for our guide. The Scheduler is a living-document, and is revised as we learn more about and from Twitter patterns, trends, who clicks, and more. We schedule outbound Tweets using TwitRobot, TweetLater and other tools.

Summary: This process keeps a steady stream of Tweet content delivered at one-hour intervals plus one-offs as they are found. The stream content is adjusted for time of day.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tweeting For Brand, Awareness & Dollars

In the nine weeks we have been on Twitter we posted about 6000 Updates! And, I wrote them all.

Our objectives were to:

1. Create awareness for a new ws:
2. Create demand for our brand and value-proposition
3. Create a Twitter-base for RTs, Mentions and FFs
4. Start building for referrals
5. Build trust and confidence
6. Include Canada and the UK (planned expansion)
7. Create an income stream

Using auto-posting tools, Hootsuite, Twinbox and other tools we created integrated campaigns that addressed:

a. Follower universe characteristics
b. Times of day (traffic patterns)
c. Messaging content (soft sell, shock, did you know, hard sell, education, novel, news)

We created interlaced-campaigns based upon DAY and TIME (groups are next) that addressed, among other things: Twitter traffic patterns, demographics, psychographics, stress patterns and gender patterns.

These campaigns created these content components:

- education - news and expert information
- soft sell - why you should and soft-shock
- did you know - industry facts relating to consumers
- hard sell
- novel - adaptation of news in tangential areas as they related to debt collection
- news - highly relevant news with commentary

We Tweeted these campaigns according to a set of carefully created schedules that included:

- people at home
- people at work
- late night people
- location
- hi concentration areas
- seniors
- upline and downline referral potential
- test tweets

We measure our Tweets with various tools such as Tweeteffect, inbound phone calls, DMs and emails.


1. Measurements show that education and news/commentary is first followed by soft and then hard sell.
2. We built system trust through news, commentary and useful information (see other blog post on this) followed by news, followed by pointers to our ws/tel# and email address.
3. Over time we started substituting Tweest + URLS with Tweets sans URLS (e.g., no authoritative source) to test for receptivity using standard URL compression utilities and their associated "hit" "open" counters + DMs, emails and phone calls.
4. Shock worked best at late nite and early AM.
5. When asked people to RT, some did. The most RTs were Tweets that contained very new, unusual, highly relevant or very useful content.
6. Calls for a Free Newsletter were high, calls for Affiliates were medium and late night calls for free help were common.

On the subject of Free. When we posted Free consultations or Emergency Assistance responses were high.

In summary, Twitter can be an effective marketing tool that builds Brand, Awareness and Dollars as long as you create and drive a carefully planned strategy that plays to the unique culture of the Twitter universe.

More to come....

Follower Data Mining With Twitter Tools

One perplexing problem I had with Twitter was "how do you find people who will Follow You Back?" We all know there are many bulk-follow tools; but they rarely produce good results (even with a 33-50% Follow Back ratio) and eventually Twitter may suspend your account or reduce your Follower ratio.

I tried all of the tools including those for sale and those for free in Beta testing or Alpha development.

We follow people on Twitter because: we are interested in their content; we hope they will follow us back (and possibly buy something and/or spread the word), or both (interest and follow backs). I fall into the last category - but my main focus, for my new web venture, is Marketing Via Twitter.

Now, it takes considerable time to find, digest and analyze a Twitter account's Followers or those they Follow - if you want to build a large base. Certainly, you can search on keywords or use some similar tools to help you, and that will help get you started. But, if your offering relies on a large Twitter Follower base with specific characteristics, you need to analyze and Follow fast - especially if you want to be ready for key Twitter on-times (11-3 or so weekdays + heavy weekends) (and those late night or different time zone people.

A. I found and use This free app enables you to look at 40 Followers at a time and display specific data about each one including ratios. For example, I look for: (mostly) US based, 800+ Followers, a good Follower/Following ratio, RTs and number of updates. Armed with this information I Follow. I track results each day and we are receiving a 50-60% Follow-back ratio with spikes of 70%/80% and infrequent (Wednesday) lows of 25-30%.

The approach enables a great Twitter Follow-back ratio of quality or hopefully-quality Followers.

B. Finding a Twitter account or accounts to mine is also a challenge and that requires searching skill, luck, intuition, determination, and testing. For raw follow-back fast tests I use Tweepi + other tools such as Buzzcom, etc.

You need to analyze an account at the beginning, mid-section and end pages for: obvious spammers, porno, location, RTs, Updates, etc. - and often that leads to L2 and L3 (supply chain data mining talk for deeper data levels) look-see's such as who does a Follower's Follower's Follow. (supply chain theory works here!)

Sometimes I actually converse with a hi-potential Follower and ask about their Follower-universe. For example, I noticed that several Twitter accounts had Followers mostly in the 1000 - 5000 range with 8-19K spikes - no low numbers. Several accounts explained they weed those out over time and that their experience is that people in those ranges have a hi-propensity to follow back quickly, often RT, and generate the most Updates - possibly or probably for marketing or (RT) re-marketing needs.

I adopted this same theory and found it works well - and when there is a RT or a D/RT I can see/calc the rough audience reach.


To use Tweepi rapidly (because its GUI loads slowly) I use dual monitors as follows:

1. Monitor 1: Load Tweepi and use normally. Note that as it loads a screen you can start your analysis by unchecking (not checking) those you do not want to follow. (much faster).

Note: While loading, press on any Twitter account's icon to get a feel for who they are and even proceed to L2 or L3 data.

2. Print out screen shots of the screen loads for metrics. (we have a plan for this)

3. Monitor 2: Using Outlook, I start to track metrics such as: Time-2-Fback and Who. Because, within 5 minutes of my first screen Follows (with Tweepi) we start to receive FBs

We compare who followed-back and when (not interested in Thank You DMs) on a sampling basis and commit this data to a spreadsheet.

Note: we receive 85-105 new Followers per day 'without' Following first. They find us.

Note: when a journalist RTd, we received 800 new Followers the next day.

Note: when we strike gold (heavy RTs and Mentions) we are near 530+/- per day


At this point I am Tweepi Power User and they asked me to help with product roadmap suggestions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pet Project - DebtResponse - Culture Eats Strategy

In March 2008 I performed some legal research (I am a paralegal) and was amazed that, of the millions of people suffering at the hands of debt collectors, there was no self-help remedy that was working. That set me thinking. Why not develop a web-based solution that was easy to use and low-cost I thought. I believed my background in marketing, technology, sourcing, law and running a business would help. For the next year or so I was "in the weeds" - learning about web-site design, optimization, SEO, viral marketing, the debt collection market, competition, performing a SWAT analysis, creating a Marketing Plan and working on 3 whiteboards to develop a go-to-market concept for testing.

Consumer Protection Institute and DebtResponse were born.

The concept, while simple, is elegant - and is based upon what I call GDIY (Guided Do It Yourself) and priced for entry level with several options. The target universe: 37,000,000 people subjected to consumer debt collection - and this number grows daily. Software was written by me in FileMaker 8.0 (another experience, but I love a challenge). And, of course, I drove the website design company crazy - apparently they never heard of project management or due dates.

I also thought business expansion could occur in the U.K., Canada, Spain and possibly Brazil. (and as I write this, Brazil is slowly catching up to the U.S. consumer debt problem). While this development was happening I decided to also learn Brazilian Portuguese (am now a 7 out of 10).

DebtResponse went live during June 2009 and we started the viral marketing journey including SEO, trackbacks, affiliate ads, PR releases, Blog entries, possible joint-ventures, conversations with news media and then there was Twitter!

Twitter -

I had never heard of Twitter until mid-June and thought I would look into it. While, at first blush, Twitter appears to be simple, it is not! The challenges are: Twitter is new, no sophisticated tools, data problems, targeting your audience in a 24/7 stream, messaging for 140 characters, learning the power of re-Tweets, hash marks, avoiding legal issues, Follow Fridays and more. I love a challenge and thought that Twitter may be a good medium for this new venture. Hence I set out to become a Twitter Guru.

There are over 100 home-grown Alpha & Beta tools out there and I tried them all, in fact I'm now a tester for many of them. I had to learn the dynamics of the Twitter stream, stats, demographics, how not to churn and be suspended, posting etiquette, power re-tweeting, what not to do, legalities, auto-posting mechanics, awareness/brand on Twitter, separating yourself from the spammers, twitter headlines, building a tweet library, building a Twitter-based opt-in list, content management, Twitter surveys, newsletters and polls, mirco-targeting Followers, nurturing Mentions, promoting your product, who's who at different times of day, finding Followers, the importance of following-back, use of RSS feeds, monitoring Tweet effectiveness, Twitter-competition and much more. I can safely say, that after doing this for two months 8-10 hours a day, I am a Twitter Black Belt.

Now people on Twitter ask me for help, and we went from 1 Follower mid-June to 19700 as August 26th. That took hard work because, now, with Mentions and RTs, we have a sustained reach of over 300,000 people and that number grows rapidly given the dynamics of network marketing leverage.

The standard formula of .25/.5 of 1% sales conversion rate kicked in when we reached 10M Followers. We are now gaining 450-500 new Followers per day.

The culture of Twitter is unique and cannot be equated to a large corporation. The difference is that it is not driven by a leader or a philosophy - it is driven by millions of Tweeters who rarely bond or even work in teams (although Twitter groups is a growing trend), are users of technology, come from a variety of backgrounds, have varying interests, have their own Twitter-politics, and do not believe in the word "trust."

As a general rule Twitterers are a distrustful culture due to spam and "who are you" since you can be invisible or not who you say you are such as many people calling themselves Obama or Oprah (hence verified accounts). The key to Twitter Marketing is not a great strategy- it is, a strategy that engenders their culture - or, trust-over-time (same as sourcing folks trust certain vendors) and from that foundation you can begin to market.

In summary, Twitter for fun can be interesting, but, of course, who really wants to hear what you had for breakfast? (source: WSJ 8/09). Twitter for profit or awareness is awesome and can be accomplished with hard work, a strategy, and a good understanding of the tools, audience, and Twitter culture. For even with a brilliant strategy (and that's what I thought I had), I had to alter our strategy 3x to fit the Twitter Culture as in the popular axiom "Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch Everytime."

If you want to know how we went from 1 to 20000 qualified Twitter Followers in 9 weeks + many Re-tweets and Mentions daily, contact me at or

Steve Sussman