Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Twitter, Twuffer and promoting your company newsletter.


If you’re already familiar with email newsletters and Twitter then feel free to skip to ‘the solution’.

The given
Using a company newsletter has long been established as a great way to promote your business. In recent years many companies have turned to email newsletter marketing to reach a wide audience for a relatively low initial investment – whereas sending out a printed newsletter to a few thousand readers can cost about the same amount as a small family car, sending an email newsletter to the same number of recipients can cost as little as a reasonably priced meal for one at your local takeaway. I really shouldn’t write these articles on an empty stomach.


The problem.

The advantage of using email newsletters over traditional ones is that they allow us to gather a lot of data on how information contained within is digested by the recipient. A printed newsletter may languish in its sealed envelope under a pile of ignored paper for months, but within hours of sending an email newsletter we know exactly who has read it, what time and date they read it, and even which links within the newsletter they clicked on. It’s marketing gold.

But there’s always been a problem, something of a lump of steak in the vegan stew you might say, if you were as hungry as I am right now. People on your mailing list can be considered as ‘knowns’; they already know who you are, and you already know who they are because they’re on your mailing list. That’s assuming of course you’re not stuck in 1998 and are still adding people to your mailing list without their consent on the off chance they won’t mind (you’re very wrong).

Even if your ‘knowns’ adore your newsletter and greedily gobble up every tasty morsel of information contained there in – like one might a large box of fancy chocolates – you’re still not reaching a new audience. You’re selling yourselves to hungry diners who are already familiar with your menu, and while that’s fine you can get more mileage out of your newsletter with just a little bit of effort and no financial investment.


The solution

All companies know they should have an account on twitter.com but few know what to do with it once they have signed up. Too many companies post once every few months to inform the world that they’ve just hovered the office or are heading out to lunch (or something non-food related but equally irrelevant and dull). That’s impressing nobody, least of all anyone who hasn’t previously heard of your company; these people are your ‘unknowns’. There’s an easy way to reach these unknowns using Tweets (Twitter posts) that will appeal to them. For example; if someone interested in a topic like risk management lands on your Twitter page only to find out what you had in your sandwiches they’re not going to hang around for long. You’ve just wasted the chance to make a great first impression, and in the worst case scenario you may have just damaged your brand.

A great way of using Twitter is to tweet the headlines from your newsletter with a link back to your website, but posting all of the headlines one after the other in one big lump of tweets diminishes the power of your punch. You could make a note to return to Twitter once a day and post a new headline, but I’ve got a better solution.

How to use Twitter and Twuffer to promote your company newsletter.
  1. When you have published an email newsletter add the content to your website as either a page or a pdf. Even if you’re using a service like iContact that automatically posts your newsletter on the iContact site I’d still recommend replicating the information on your company website, we want to drive people to your site, not another company’s website.


  2. Visit a URL shortening website like TinyUrl.com and create a shorter version of the address of the newsletter on your website. TinyUrl.com allows you to create a custom shortened link, so you might as well include some relevant keywords. I don’t know for sure if this helps your SEO (search engine ranking) but I doubt it could do any harm.


  3. Next visit Twuffer.com and log in using your Twitter account details – you don’t need to sign up for a Twuffer account.

  4. Once you’re signed in you’ll see a large white box at the top of the Twuffer site, this is where you add your tweet. Use the ‘When to tweet’ section to choose a time and date, I tend to choose either lunchtime or mid-afternoon.


    When you’ve added a scheduled tweet it will be added to your tweet queue, you can view this queue by clicking the ‘queued tweets’ tab. I’d recommend setting up at least one scheduled tweet that includes a headline from your newsletter and a link to it per day until you run out of headlines. For example – if your newsletter contains fifteen articles you’ll be extending the longevity of your newsletter campaign from the one day of the initial email blast to half a month!

  5. After you have scheduled your tweets it’s worth spending some time searching Twitter using key words from your headlines and following anyone that you think may be interested. It seems to be a golden rule of Twitter that when you start following folk one of the first things they do is have a look at your profile, so if they find something relevant they’ll be far more likely to return the favour and follow your profile, at which point you’ve reach another ‘unknown’, another potential new customer or client.


So there you have it, there’s the plan, please post comments to let me know how you get on with this and more importantly if it helped increase the downloads/ page views for your newsletter.


UPDATE - 15/11/10
While Twuffer is still a great service we now use www.hootsuite.com to manage and schedule our tweets.