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The Pareto of Twitter

Back in the dawn of media, businesses used to have a direct intermediary between them and their customers.

For instance, when television and newspaper were just getting started, each of these services occupied the space in between a brand and those that it wanted to speak to.

This was a benefit and a disadvantage at the same time.

If your company wanted to broadcast a message to millions of people, it could do so easily. You knew who the gatekeepers were, you knew about what kind of messaging they expected, and you knew how much it would cost.

Of course, this also meant that they essentially controlled your messaging and your ability to reach your audience.

This was all the more true in the postwar period of American history when the airwaves were controlled by a near-oligarchy of major broadcasters.

Perhaps this kind of advertising reaches its zenith with the Super Bowl.

This annual made for television event draws a massive crowd, drawing almost one hundred million pairs of eyes every year, and for the average price of five million dollars, your business could purchase a few precious seconds of exposure to this audience. 

Today, however, things are changing. 

Twitter is perhaps one of the best examples of this change.

Now, with their own accounts and no middleman to approve their content (save for the occasional tweet that gets taken down) brands are able to blast messages out to their audiences twenty-four seven.

This essentially inverts the benefits and drawbacks of the broadcast media system.

On the one hand, this is great for businesses.

After all, what could be better than removing all the middlemen and intermediaries?

Of course, on the other hand there now is no longer a single, unified audience for a business to blast these messages out to.

With the proliferation of platforms and niches that they focus on, users are able to group together into hyper-relevant communities. 

As a counter to this, many businesses try to engage their users through other users. Using influencers – especially on Twitter – is a time-tested way of gaining an audience’s attention and respect.

Users no longer trust brands to give them objective, truthful information.

So perhaps your brand has been investing a lot of time and effort into Twitter. You’ve even incorporated all of Breakline’s tips for growing your audience on the platform.

However, there is still a problem here…

The 80/20 Rule

Chances are, you have heard of the 80/20 rule before. This is often mentioned in the context of sales departments, where 20 per cent of sales representatives are responsible for 80 per cent of the sales that occur.

This helps to explain how some sales reps consistently make massive commissions while most are struggling to get by. However, the 80/20 rule can be applied to so many different areas of life. For instance, sociologists have noticed that 20 per cent of criminals commit 80 per cent of all crimes.

80 per cent of the pollution originates from 20 per cent of all factories. 20 per cent of drivers cause 80 per cent of the accidents that occur on roadways. You could go on all day listing these sorts of issues. However, the one that concerns marketers trying to gain exposure for their brand on Twitter is this – 20 per cent of Twitter users are responsible for 80 per cent of all tweets

What does this mean for your social proof marketing strategies?

It means that these are the sorts of people you need to be engaging with instead of trying to cast a massive net out to everyone following you.

Rather than trying to get every user to tweet about you once or twice, you need to get these super tweeters to mention you several times.

Of course, since they are the most active, they are also the ones with the most followers.

This means that earning their attention on Twitter will be quite valuable.

It’s Demographic, Duh!

As with most things in marketing, this starts with demographics and psychographics. You need to get a handle on the general demographics of your audience.

Of course, on Twitter women are overrepresented and tend to be the most vocal. Likewise, Twitter users are more likely to have a collegiate education and a higher income than the average American. However, these sorts of general observations about Twitter’s audience are not specific enough for your brand. You must dig into your following to really understand the situation.

Over the years marketers have developed all sorts of tools for this. 

Twitter itself provides a number of different tools for this. Twitter’s Audience insights are the most useful, as they offer all sorts of information about those following you, including where they are located, what they are interested in and many other helpful features like this.

This sort of high-level information can be extremely helpful for brands that are really trying to get an understanding of the situation.

Of course, to take things to the next level this is not enough. Especially when trying to identify those with the most potential to influence their peers about your brand, you will need something a little more specific and a little more personal. 

There are a number of different tactics you could take for this.

  • You could spend thousands of dollars conducting demographic research on your audience, trying to understand exactly what makes them tick.
  • You could fly some people into your headquarters, taking the personal tact with them and letting your marketing team interview them and understand them better.
  • You could ship out trials and samples of your product or service to people, allowing those that seem to have the highest potential to be brand advocates some kind of free access.

All of these are good techniques, but there is one big problem with them – they are expensive.

If you are a startup or a smaller brand running on a shoestring marketing budget, you need a way to get to know your audience and win over the super tweeters that doesn’t involve spending too much money.

Online tools for growing your Twitter following could be the answer. Twiends is one such example of this. It is a free online tool that gives you the ability to filter through the vast Twitter jungle and connect with a subset of users that have been filtered out to share the same concerns and interests as your brand.

Twiends allows you to start the sorts of conversations with these individuals that you need to be having in order to win them over.

This sort of hyper-personalized means of meeting and adding followers allows your company to start off on the right foot with them and build up the relationships that you need.

What happens after that is up to you. 

The 80/20 rule is such an odd phenomenon. Scientists don’t quite understand why so many different things seem to follow this Pareto distribution. However, for marketers, these sorts of academic concerns are secondary.

Based on the Pew data, we know that this is an observable phenomenon and one that affects the ability of our brand to communicate with those we need to be speaking to.

Brands that are able to recognize this and react to it will be successful, while those that cannot wallow on. So, there is no time to lose.

What will you do today to connect with your soon to be brand advocates, earning a place in the hundreds of tweets that they send out?

Zack Chambers

Zack Chambers is an expert on Twitter Marketing. Zack is a digital marketer with a focus on Twitter optimization and SEO. He enjoys helping his clients fulfil their dreams through whatever marketing approach can best assist them in their particular situation. In his free time, he likes weight lifting and reading just about any book he can get his hands on.

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