Twitter, Viral Marketing and the Power of Evangelism

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The biggest complaint I hear about using Twitter as a marketing tool is that after you write a Tweet, It quickly scrolls down the page as other people add their Tweets. In short order, your Tweet moves completely off the page and becomes all but invisible.

This, the Twitter critics say, means that a Tweet has a very short shelf life before it is gone forever.

True and true, but this argument misses the point.

These people are still thinking broadcast marketing, wherein there is a single sender of a message and many hearers of that message. The old marketing paradigm always tries to reach masses of hearers in hopes that a few will convert to customers.

But Twitter is part of a new paradigm and operates by different rules.

The way around the “scrolling off the page” problem begins with Tweeting numerous times throughout the day. Tweeting is not an activity that you can do one time and wait for the money to come rolling in.

If you are promoting a new book, or a new article on your blog, or a new video you just posted on YouTube, Tweet about it often. Some people who missed it earlier in the day will see your Tweet later on.

However, this does not give you license to use Twitter to spam your followers. Unlike email recipients, followers have recourse against spammers. All they have to do is block or unfollow the spammer and they never have to hear from the culprit again.

If your Tweets point to valuable, insightful, useful content that solves problems, you will come to be regarded as a trusted source. Think of Seth Godin’s Purple Cow concept and point your followers to something truly remarkable.

Next, don’t just Tweet about the same thing over and over again. That gets tiresome and will again be regarded as spam. As we talked about in yesterday;s post, Thought Leadership With Twitter - Even Your Old Content Can Remain King, Tweet about your old content as well as your new. Let people know about an informative article that you wrote two years ago as long as it is still relevant.

When you do this, not only will your Tweets have variety, you will also keep your old blog posts and articles working for you.

Regularly Tweeting about old, but good, content keeps that content on the top shelf and can turn your followers into fans as they see the quality and quantity of your body of work.

Now, you may have noticed, clever folks that you are, that I still haven’t really solved the problem of Tweets scrolling off the front page. Well I am about to.

Here is the real secret to using Twitter as a marketing tool. What I am about to tell you is so important that you may want you to tattoo it to your forehead in reverse font so you can see it every time you stand in front of a mirror (if you're into that sort of thing):

The real purpose of Twittering is not to mass broadcast your message, but to convert a handful of evangelists to your cause.
If you Tweet about quality informative content that solves other people’s problems, a few followers will become fans, and a few fans will become evangelists. And your evangelists will Tweet about you, blog about you, put links to your site on their sites, write complimentary book reviews on Amazon, and tell their friends that they must read your stuff or watch your YouTube videos.

And then it won’t matter if your original Tweet scrolls off the page because now you have others spreading the word about you.

Let me give you two examples. I am an evangelist for Marcia Yudkin and David Meerman Scott. The quality of their work is so good that if either of them wrote a book on how to become a dog catcher, I would not only buy it but tell all my friends to buy it too.

I can’t help but write about them and tell anyone who hasn’t yet learned to duck and hide when I walk into a room, all about the latest thing I read by either one of them. I am an evangelist.

And that is the whole point of marketing with Twitter – to find evangelists who will proclaim the good news about your work.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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