Carolyn Morgan looks at how a B2B publisher tripled its Twitter following in a year.
Many B2B publishers are keen to use Twitter to reach influencers in their industry, but are not sure how to go about building a following or how to convert it into business value.
Research provide newsletters, analysis and an online database for academics looking for research funding. A small independent publisher, founded by William Cullerne Bown, their resources were limited, but they have grown their Twitter following three-fold in just over a year, and have joined the shortlist for the 2012 Media Pioneer Awards. Ricky Warren, Marketing Manager, explains how they did it:
"As publishers of specialist media, we have many formats for the output of our information. However as a for-profit business we do charge for this information – our dilemma was how to get more people who don’t currently buy our content to actually view it and then subscribe to it. We also wanted to sell more of our event tickets through promotions and recommendations. We decided to focus on Twitter to build this reach.
We have 5 different twitter accounts for each of our main areas:
Research Fortnight @resfortnight
Research Europe @researcheurope
Research Africa @researchafrica
Research Events @resevents
William Cullerne Bown @williamcb (company founder)
In September 2010, we decided to measure Twitter following and the sales made from it as a KPI. At that moment, our total following across all accounts was approximately 2300.
How did we increase the following?
Through marketing, we began to promote the Twitter accounts heavily in relevant media that we published, for example banner ads and links to our Twitter accounts were added to email alerts, marketing emails, our print publications, our event programmes, email signatures, etc. From email tracking software and other mechanisms, we saw little bursts in the following after each piece of media was sent out.
How did we increase engagement?
To increase following and engagement, our editorial team began to tweet more and more. We wrote updates with a bit more contention to them, to solicit responses from people, as well as asking questions. We began re-tweeting others and using hash tags to join relevant conversations. We started posting free news stories from our publications and updates on our events such as speaker details and programme changes. We tried posting discount codes and offers exclusively on Twitter; for example we gave away 10 free 6 month subscriptions (internally we saw them as long term trials). We posted up a competition for renaming a European funding programme worth 15 billion over 4 years (horizon 2020) and submitted the suggestions to the body who control the fund. Finally we’d also post up relevant articles and quotes from other people and publications to stir discussion.
How did we measure conversions?
By using discount codes and by monitoring the followers that joined us, we could see who had purchased a subscription or event ticket through seeing our Twitter accounts.
What were the results?
One year later in September 2011 our following had grown threefold, reaching over 8000 by January 2012. During this period we had sold a large number of event tickets and many subscriptions, helping us to ensure we achieved revenue targets that year."
It sounds simple, but the real value is created by co-ordinating activity and measuring the real value of Twitter followers to the business.
The Media Pioneer Awards recognise innovation and entrepreneurial achievement in specialist consumer and B2B markets. Winners are announced at the Specialist Media Show on 24 May 2012. We’re delighted to welcome Audience Media as sponsor for the 2012 Media Pioneer Awards. Audience Media provide a publishing solution with a single CMS to publish to web, print and tablet plus subscription management.