Twitter for E-commerce: A Complete Guide

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Many online businesses have dabbled in social media with less than stellar results.

Twitter doesn’t work.

Instagram isn’t showing an ROI.

We’ve heard it all before.

But, like any marketing campaigns or channels, success on Twitter depends on the right strategy — and execution. When done effectively, Twitter can be a huge source of growth for your e-commerce store.

If you take the time to learn what you’re doing and dedicate yourself to following a solid Twitter for e-commerce marketing strategy, there’s a ton of opportunity waiting for you.

The key is to remember that you have to “play by the rules” on Twitter to get traction. And I don’t mean that literally, like following Twitter’s TOS.

I mean you need to understand the culture of Twitter and build an experience around your brand that people want to connect with. You need to entertain, inspire, connect…and then you can sell.

Make no mistake – this is a long-term strategy. If you want quick exposure and are willing to pay, consider the advertising route on Twitter.

But with a rocking organic Twitter presence, you can build and grow your e-commerce business with a loyal following that will help you spread the good word.

So how’s it done? That’s what this guide is all about. I’ll walk you step-by-step through optimizing your profile page, growing your following, creating a content strategy that works, and how to measure your efforts.

So let’s talk about to how to use Twitter for e-commerce!

Optimize your Twitter profile page

Your profile page is akin to a website’s home page for you Twitter account. Before you do anything else, make sure it is completely optimized for the best results for your business.

We’ll go over the elements one by one, in order of the way the eye will naturally move across the page.

Twitter cover photo

Think of your cover photo as a billboard on the highway. People move through Twitter fast and you’ll only have a few seconds to make an impression.

A striking image that is in line with your brand and a few words of text overlay work great.

Below is an excellent example from iHerb.

image//// how to use a twitter cover photo for e-commerce

It has a healthy, natural feel with the grass and sky background, displays the types of products they sell, and includes text to highlight product categories.

Twitter profile picture

Choose a profile pic that is either a square version of your logo or an image that represents your business.

Just keep in mind that this will appear very small in the feed so if your profile pic has words, keep it short and make the text as big as possible.

Twitter bio

This is your Twitter elevator pitch – only even shorter. You have 160 characters to tell people what you’re about and why they should connect with you.

Also, include keywords relevant to your business in your bio. People search Twitter and you’ll want to take advantage of every opportunity to be found.

iHerb also has a great bio, short and to the point.

image//// twitter e-commerce bio

It also includes the keyword “natural products” so they will show up when people search that phrase.

Another thing to keep in mind is how your cover photo, profile pic, and bio work together (because they’ll need to). Twitter will often highlight your account with just these elements.

For instance, you will see the two most recent accounts a user has followed on their profile page. It looks like this:

image ///// how to use twitter suggested to follow for e-commerce

Look at how well those elements work together for iHerb. It’s an attractive account to follow for anyone interested in their products, right?!

Make sure your account is similarly set up for success when people come across you this way.

Pinned tweet

This is probably the most important element on your profile page. If the other elements of your profile are the sizzle, your pinned tweet is the steak.

A pinned tweet is simply a tweet you choose to stay at the top of your profile page at all times. This is a huge opportunity to get people to take action on the CTA of your Twitter profile.

Related: How to Pin a Tweet and Why You Absolutely Should

People will be visiting your profile page, especially if you’re actively growing your following (which we’ll get to in a bit). When they get there, make sure they see your most compelling tweet first.

It could be a great deal you’re running, introducing a new product line, promoting a contest, really whatever you want to promote most at any given time.

This is one area where iHerb actually whiffed. They don’t have a pinned tweet. At the time I’m writing this, the second tweet I see on their profile would make a great pinned tweet:

image ///// how to use a pinned tweet for e-commerce

Ironically, clicking on that link takes you to their Facebook page where they have pinned a post to the top of their profile with instructions on how to enter the contest.

Now that you’ve got all your ducks in a row on your profile page, it’s time to start growing a following.

Grow a relevant Twitter following for your e-commerce site

Followers are the lifeblood of your organic Twitter marketing efforts. But how do you get them, especially if you’re just starting out?

One of the most effect methods is a follow-first approach. Simply find accounts you think will be interested in your products and follow them. You’ll show up in their notifications as a new follower and most will at least come back to your profile page to check you out.

Related: How to Follow First on Twitter for Amazing Results

If you followed the instructions in the first part of this post and optimized your profile page, you’ll get a lot of accounts to follow you back or take action on your pinned tweet – hopefully both.

Give people a few days to follow back. If they do, great, that’s a new connection. If they don’t, you can assume they’re not interested and unfollow them.

So how do you find qualified accounts to follow? Great question! I’m glad I pretended you asked.

Follow your competitors followers

This is an easy way to find accounts that will likely be interested in your products. Just go to one of your competitors profile pages and click on the Followers tab to view their followers.

image //// how to follow on Twitter for e-commerce

Since we want people who will follow back, I advise taking a second to open their profile to see if they’re active on Twitter (many won’t be). There’s no sense in following dormant accounts that will never follow back or engage with you.

Monitor Twitter for accounts to follow

Another great way to find qualified accounts to follow is to search relevant word and phrases on Twitter.

For example, let’s say you have an e-commerce site that sells exercise supplements. Just search the word “workout” and you will find people who exercise. Like their tweet and follow them.

I did this exact search and found 11 people who would be great candidates to follow in just 8 minutes of tweets:

image /// how to find twitter account to follow for e-commerce

Use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to easily monitor Twitter and you can find these tweets pretty much 24/7.

In addition to following these accounts, these are great opportunities to start engaging with people to build a relationship. It doesn’t have to be much. In the example above, maybe just some words of encouragement about a good workout.

Remember, this should be fun. If it’s fun for you, you’ll be engaging and it will be fun for people you’re connecting with. If it feels too much like work, consider delegating it to someone you trust with speaking for your business and likes this kind of thing.

Create a Twitter content strategy

Okay, we’re all set with a great Twitter profile and we’re growing our following, so now we need to talk to them. We need a Twitter content strategy.

For this section, we’ll look at Dog for Dog, a dog food and treat e-commerce store, as an example of an account with a great Twitter content strategy.

The 3 types of tweets for a solid Twitter content strategy

There are three main types of tweets you’ll be sending, not including talking directly to other Twitter users. They are promotional, curated, and fun.

Promotional tweets

These are tweets directly related to your business. These include tweets showcasing your product or service, announcing specials/sales/promotions and, if you have a blog, linking to your posts.

Some of Dog for Dog’s promotional tweets talk about their their mission of giving away an equal amount of dog food purchased to dogs in need (#POUNDforPOUND) and they also have toys where a portion of proceeds go to feeding dogs in need. (A pretty awesome mission if you ask me.)

image /// use Twitter for e-commerce tweet example 1

And another is showcasing that their food is available nationwide at PetSmart.

image /// how to use Twitter for e-commerce tweet example

You’re most likely already creating these kinds of tweets. They are essential, but they shouldn’t be all you’re tweeting all the time.

You also need a mix of other types of tweets to complement your promotional tweet activity and build your brand on Twitter.

This is where the curated and fun tweets come in.

Curated tweets

Curated tweets are tweets to content (such as blog posts, webinars, and guides) that is not your own. Just like a museum curator, it’s your job to find and share awesome stuff that will appeal to your target market.

Dog for Dog’s curation strategy comes in the form of retweets from other accounts. They’re focused on similar organizations that are also providing charity and resources for pets and shelter animals.

For example, check out this retweet of Bissell Pets paying for 1,000 microchips for pets at an animal shelter.

image /// how to use curated tweets for e-commerce on Twitter

Fun tweets

Finally, we get to the fun stuff. The Dog for Dog Twitter account has a lot of Tweets that are simply fun and entertaining for dog lovers.

Each week they have fun with the #tongueouttuesday hashtag.

image /// how to use twitter for e-commerce fun tweets

They also jump on trending topics like Valentine’s Day.

image /// how to use twitter for e-commerce with holiday tweets

Putting it all together

These three types of tweets work together and form a cohesive brand identity on Twitter.

Followers and fans of the Dog for Dog Twitter account will perceive the brand as generous and fun.

So why is brand perception so important? It’s all about psychology.

The Halo Effect is a psychological “phenomenon that causes people to be biased in their judgments by transferring their feelings about one attribute of something to other, unrelated, attributes.”

For example, someone perceived as good looking and charming will also tend to be perceived as intelligent and trustworthy even though there is no logical basis for this assumption.

I know, it sounds like a bad thing. And in everyday life, it probably is.

But as a business, you can harness the Halo Effect to shape the perception of your brand. Of course, it’s up to you to live up to those expectations.

Measuring your Twitter marketing results

Okay, now that we’ve got a complete Twitter strategy in place, it’s time to meet your new best friend – Twitter Analytics.

Twitter provides a free analytics dashboard with tons of helpful info.

To access these analytics, click on your small profile pic in the top left of your Twitter profile to open the dropdown menu and select analytics:

image /// how to use twitter analytics for e-commerce stores

Once you’re in, you’ll have access to a wealth of data.

The key performance indicator for your e-commerce account is link clicks.

This is a measure of how many people clicked on links to an external website outside of Twitter (presumably your e-commerce store or blog). After all, customers can’t buy from your site unless and until they visit it!

You’ll want to calculate your customer acquisition cost to customer lifetime value ratio (CAC:LTV). But with this organic strategy, you won’t necessarily be able to put a dollar amount on your time, unless of course you’ve hired someone to manage this for you.

Therefore, you’ll need to make a baseline determination on what your time is worth to your business and measure that against the value of a website visitor from Twitter.

To determine the value of a website visitor from Twitter, you’ll need to do a little work in Google Analytics. I advise getting an expert to assist creating a custom report in Google Analytics that will tell you how many of your visitors that came from Twitter completed the goal of making a purchase.

If you’re the tech-savvy DIY kind of person, this article from Google will get you started.

Once you’ve determined your CAC:LTV, shoot for a 3:1 ratio. If you’re coming in at less, your cost is too high. On the other hand, if you’re coming in at a higher ratio, you’re likely not taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Wrapping up: how to use Twitter for e-commerce

So there you have it – a start to finish guide on setting up and maintaining a winning Twitter account for your e-commerce site.

If you follow these strategies and be consistent with your efforts, you can have an incredible Twitter presence for your e-commerce site that continually drives traffic, produces leads, and ultimately gets you more customers.

So what do you think? Did you learn some new ideas on how to use Twitter for e-commerce? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

About the author

Karen is a senior technical writer and copywriter here at GrowFollowing. Her area of expertize are social media apps and new media.