Marketing on Twitter continues to be one of the most talked about subjects in social media today. The social media purists still sing campfire songs about how you can’t do it. Dell is up to $6.5 million dollars in sales there. While I strongly believe there is no right or wrong way to use Twitter — you can find an audience for anything on any medium with a certain level of critical mass — I believe Twitter to be a mainly conversational platform.

With that, I have noticed four major types of marketing styles emerge among those using Twitter as a marketing platform, each with examples of large followings, audiences and (probably) successes. My description of each has personal observations included, but keep in mind I don’t offer these up as criticisms as each can work, depending upon your audience. That said, consider these as styles you may choose to use in your Twitter marketing efforts.

Twitter Marketing Styles

Twitter Marketing Scale

The Conversationalist

Conversationalists are users who clearly have a reason to use Twitter for their business, but seem more apt and willing to participate in the daily chitter-chatter rather than carve out clear drives or calls to action for their business purpose. Many independent consultants and/or thought leaders fall into this category. Does Geoff Livingston‘s new agency, Zoetica, benefit professionally from his Twitter presence? Certainly. Does he often intermix links or sales messages for Zoetica’s services? No. His Twitter involvement is as a genuinely interested participant in the conversation. The professional benefit is less direct and trackable, but, rest assured, it’s there.

•    @Geekmommy
•    @AmberCadabra
•    @shashib
•    @unitedlinen

The Conversational Marketer

Varying slightly from the Conversationalist, the Conversational Marketer has a more obvious, even stated, purpose for using Twitter. Perhaps they link to their own blog posts with more frequency. Maybe they regularly remind you about an e-newsletter or their book. But they still participate in conversations with regularity, even lapsing into a let-your-hair-down approach to the extent you forget they’re using the network for their business. A good example of this is Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. He’s as approachable and engaging as anyone, but a quick glance at his latest 20 tweets while I wrote this showed no fewer than six links to posts, four to new job posts on his job board and two to his personal blog. Some people would consider that level of self-promotion spammy. Darren is anything but, however, and his audience loves every link.

•    @delloutlet
•    @meijer
•    @briansolis
•    @mcdonalds

The Salesman

Crossing the 50 percent threshold to being mostly promotional with less conversation is the salesman. Now, some in the social media space would say this type of person is disingenuous to the social media audience. I disagree. There are lots of companies and even people on Twitter who sell first, but do engage, provide interesting links and other nuggets of value in their approaches. Michael Stelzner is a good friend of mine and the man behind Social Media Examiner (@smexaminer), a very well done blog (he calls it an online magazine, I call it a blog) on social media. The Twitter account, however, is a sales-first pitch for the website and affiliated learning opportunities that are apart of it and Michael’s business. While this type of approach may not be popular among the social media purists set, there’s always an audience for a sales-driven Twitter account that has a good product on the other end of it.

•    @jcpenney
•    @phoenixsuns
•    @chrysler
•    @newyorker

The Spammer Broadcaster

REVISION: Thanks to Tom Webster of Edison Research and who suggested the term “broadcaster” might be more appropriate. I agree, so I changed it. Thanks Tom.

I hesitate to use the term “spammer” here, but it is appropriate. Please know I don’t use the term with these accounts as a criticism, per say. It’s a statement of fact, based on their streams, they self-promote almost exclusively and do not appear to participate in conversations (RT, @ replies, etc.). HOWEVER, I don’t necessarily think this is bad. For instance, George Stephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) appears to fall into the category of no conversations and ABC News pimp. But 1.6 million people dig that stuff. While that may be a bad example because he’s a celebrity, there are companies out there who have thousands (or more) of fans who would gladly take the spam to get a coupon, find out about new product releases and more. One example I use below is a Raffertys restaurant in Louisville. It’s all spam, but I follow it in case they have a good drink special or something going on when I’m interested in a local deal.

•    @nbc
•    @raffbreck
•    @tide
•    @usweekly

So where do you fall in your Twitter approach? Are you solidly in the court that the first two are okay but the other two aren’t? Are you in the second two and have business metrics to prove your approach works? Tell us your story in the comments and let us know the good and bad in your approach. If you haven’t defined an approach yet, tell us which you think you should take and why.

The comments, as always, are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • JasonFalls

    Thank you for making it better!

  • KBodnar32

    As always a good break down Jason. I would agree with you for the most part, but their are likely a few other types out there as well.

    • JasonFalls

      Probably are. It appears many want me to add “aggregators/sharers” to
      the list. Are there others?

  • KBodnar32

    As always a good break down Jason. I would agree with you for the most part, but their are likely a few other types out there as well.

  • JasonFalls

    Probably are. It appears many want me to add “aggregators/sharers” to
    the list. Are there others?

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  • Rich Anderson

    Jason – I found your blog via @nicobrx and enjoyed your thoughts. It is all about the conversation and being authentic about it!

    • JasonFalls

      Awesome, Rich. Thanks for coming by. Appreciate your thoughts.

  • Rich Anderson

    Jason – I found your blog via @nicobrx and enjoyed your thoughts. It is all about the conversation and being authentic about it!

  • JasonFalls

    Awesome, Rich. Thanks for coming by. Appreciate your thoughts.

  • marklatimer

    I'd like to read more about twitter. keep it coming! Thanks for the post. @marklatimer

    • JasonFalls

      Thanks Mark. Appreciate the comment.

  • marklatimer

    I'd like to read more about twitter. keep it coming! Thanks for the post. @marklatimer

  • RM_InBoundMarketingPR

    What strikes me is that their is an audience for all four styles. Nice way to present that Jason.

    Great post, thanks for sharing with us!

    RM – InBoundMarketingPR

    • JasonFalls

      Thank you for saying so!

  • JasonFalls

    Thanks Mark. Appreciate the comment.

  • Pascal Inderabudhi

    Completely with you here, Jesse. It seems as though the different Twitter feeds cited are associated with different marketing strategies and different sized brands. The conversationalists are more personally branded, social media focused tweeters, which makes conversational engagement more feasible as opposed to the larger companies listed in the other categories. The conversational marketers group does seem like the goal and ideal mix for self-promotion and engagement in my opinion.

    And while spammers/broadcasters do not engage in content, I find it useful as other posters mentioned as an RSS feed of sorts. Also as other posters have noted there exists conversational spam as well in back-and-forth tangents/flame wars.

  • jesseluna

    I also make that point because there are people like me that are totally Conversationlists on one account, but then do the “mostly feeds” activities on another biz account because that's the current company strategy. Of course I'd like to engage much more on the second account but my efforts are directed otherwise.

  • JasonFalls

    Thank you for saying so!

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  • Lucretia (GeekMommy) Pruitt

    I really need to catch up on your blog. I've been so wrapped up in my offline life that my reader is full of “must read Jason's post about…” unread but still marked as unread posts!!

    Can't wait to see you at SXSW.

    P.S. I need a second SME sticker – have one on my netbook, but need another for the laptop. I'll trade you! :)

    • JasonFalls

      I've got as many as you'd like. Will see you next week!

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  • Paul Wright

    I think to market successfully you should really focus on what you shouldn't do rather than what you should. I have in the past sent out automated tweets but I make sure in between those to tweet things that are relateble or interesting and to always respond to comments from people. It's not that difficult even if someone has 10 Twitter accounts. All they need is a desktop Twitter client which is logged into all their accounts.

    People unfollow those who just spam like the clappers. Never think that people are stupid, seriously.

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  • normanprather

    “Broadcasters” (which I still call spammers) have cause me to (largely) abandon Twitter.

    • JasonFalls

      Why? You don't have to follow them. Follow the people that are meaningful to

      you. Ignore the rest of them (or us … heh.)

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  • Entreb

    I want to add the robotic style in marketing. Those are the people who rely too much on automation, without putting some human touch on their tweets. :) I believe Twitter should be a society of humans, not robots.

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