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The product management team I work with interviews roughly 50 B2B marketers a quarter. Those conversations provide me a 50,0000-foot view of how Twitter is being used as a marketing strategy—or, rather, how it's not.

Twitter can be great both for brand awareness and for driving leads; but, from a high-level perch, I see that almost all B2B marketers are struggling with either how to simply use Twitter or how to optimize their approach.

Though a recent report claimed that as many as 84% of B2B companies are using Twitter for marketing purposes, I'd argue that that percentage misrepresents how many B2B execs are really working to incorporate the channel into their marketing strategy.

From my experience, I'd say about 70% of B2B companies on Twitter have an account and send out a tweet every now and then. The other 30%, though... they're really trying to make it work.

Whether you're looking to move beyond the occasional tweet or you're aiming to polish your approach, here are some tips for how you, as a B2B marketer, can take full advantage of Twitter as a marketing tool.

1. Create—and Share—Great Content

Content marketing is at the core of most B2B marketing programs. B2B sales cycles are long, so prospects must be nurtured over time through the decision cycle. To nurture leads, you will often create a series of relevant content pieces, such as whitepapers and webinars.

But there are only so many whitepapers and webinars that your marketing team can create, considering how resource intensive the process can be—not to mention that material can only be reused so much.

Consistently developing content that's compelling and engaging, therefore, may be one of the main challenges for the B2B marketer.

Twitter (and other social media platforms for that matter) provides a great way to break out of the webinar-and-whitepaper cycle to distribute relevant content, such as articles, links, and short comments that appeal to the interest of your target audience.

A good guideline is to distribute 50% of your own content and 50% third-party content. Some marketers go as far as using 70% third-party content. Determine what works for you over time based on how much original content you have to work with.

To find great third-party content, follow thought leaders on social media, scan the Web for relevant articles, blog posts, and other content. Also be sure to promote content from partners and customers.

2. Use Retargeting to Generate Leads

If you're following the previous recommendation to build followers by providing valuable and relevant content, you'll notice that 50% to 70% of the content you share sends people away from your marketing funnel by directing them to third-party content. So, to keep your brand top-of-mind for prospects, it pays to invest in retargeting.

Retargeting is the ability to serve display ads on those third-party websites to visitors who at one point clicked on links you posted or paid to promote via social channels. Consistently putting your brand in front of prospects by way of retargeting is one of the most powerful ways to make "every tweet count"—even if those tweets promote third-party content.

3. Experiment With Twitter Advertising

Twitter offers several different paid advertising options, the most effective of which is the promoted tweet. Paying to promote a tweet boosts the number of people who see it.

Paid advertising on Twitter is, in and of itself, a powerful tool for amplifying your brand's visibility and increasing the sharing of your content both within and outside your follower group; but, combined with retargeting, paid Twitter advertising makes even more of an impact.

Promoted tweets help you create a much larger retargeting pool: Since more people see these tweets, more people will click on them and thus become part of your prospect pool.

Then, as those Twitter users travel across the Web, they'll see your ads repeatedly by way of retargeting. Paid Twitter advertising, combined with retargeting prospects who click on Twitter links, can deliver more than 50% lift in ROI over Twitter advertising without retargeting. In other words, promoted tweets combined with retargeting can lower cost-per-lead by 50%. If you invest those savings into more promoted tweets, the impact snowballs—building a larger and larger retargeting pool over time to increase your leads.

4. Don't Forget Conversion Tracking

You've assembled a lot of followers in your industry; you're sharing both your own and third-party content, you're using paid Twitter advertising, and you're retargeting followers with relevant ads as they travel the Web. But what impact are your efforts having on conversion? And how do you know which tweets are the ones that are driving success?

One key way to find out is to implement conversion tracking that measures down to the tweet level.

With conversion-tracking tools, you can identify whether users who clicked on a tweet with either your or third-party content later went on to visit your site or download a whitepaper. Conversion tracking can also reveal whether a prospect visited your site after clicking on a display ad shown to them through retargeting. Moreover, conversion tracking analysis can pinpoint which tweets and specific subject matter are working to drive conversions—and just as important, which ones are not.

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Four Ways B2B Marketers Can Boost the Value of Their Tweets

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image of Chris Mann
Chris Mann is VP of product management at Bizo, a leader in business-audience marketing. The Bizo Marketing Platform targets businesspeople wherever they travel online by demographic criteria such as job function, seniority, industry, company size, and more. Reach Chris via Twitter: @chrislmann.