Twitter audience marketing growth hack

Twitter, despite its woes as a company, has plenty to offer marketers, including what may be the most amazing competitive intelligence hack ever. By hack, I mean a usable trick, not a violation of law. Want to know how your audience stacks up against a competitor? This Twitter audience marketing growth hack will help.

We begin with Twitter Audience Insights. If you’re not familiar, Twitter released this last year as a competitive option to Facebook’s Audience Insights, to prove Twitter could help marketers gain more insight into their audiences. To find it, log into and visit the Analytics tab, then choose Audience Insights:

Audience Insights Growth Hack

Once you’re in, you’ll see Twitter’s general audience. You can add your followers for comparison:


Above, we see all Twitter in the dark maroon bars, and mine in the pinkish color in the main section; on the right, we see household income. Twitter says my audience, my followers are more affluent than the average Twitter user.

This is a useful comparison to understand our audience versus the general population. Let’s now get into hacking territory. Instead of the broad audience, click on the audience menu and see what other options we have. The important one is Tailored Audiences:


Twitter Tailored Audiences are audiences we upload to Twitter via the Audience Manager:


We choose to create a new audience from our own list:


And here’s the hack: we can upload any list of Twitter handles we want. Which means we can upload a competitor’s followers list:


Where would you get such a list? Easy: go to the competitor’s Twitter profile page and extract it. It’s public information – which is why this is a marketing hack but neither illegal nor unethical. We can also use tools like FollowerWonk or Sysomos MAP to gather follower lists.

Once the Tailored Audience is uploaded and processed – which can take up to a day – go back to Audience Insights and add the competitor’s list to the tool. We can then compare our followers vs. our competitor’s followers:


From here, we can draw conclusions about the kinds of followers we have versus what our competitors have. Analyze income, professions, and more:


Above, we see that the competitor’s audience is on par by income, slightly more imbalanced gender-wise, and more self-employed. If my business doesn’t serve the self-employed, then I know my Twitter audience strategy is delivering better results than my competitor’s.

Twitter Audience Insights are a powerful tool for understanding not only our audience, but our competitors’ audiences as well. Audience Insights can lend understanding to both B2B and B2C marketers, though B2C will benefit more from the broader lifestyle and consumer behavior sections.

Conveniently, if we find a competitor’s Tailored Audience to be more on target than ours, we simply launch an advertising campaign to the competitor’s Tailored Audience to recruit them.

Try this Twitter audience marketing growth hack to compare your Twitter audience building efforts to your competitors and then take action to build the audience you want!

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Publishers will never stop ad blockers

Publishers, in an attempt to recoup revenue losses, are trying to block the ad blockers. They are doomed to fail, not because ad blocking technology is superior, but because of content shock.

Since the Internet became public, we’ve been in a technological arms race. For every new advertising tool developed by marketers, enterprising technologists develop an effective counter.

  • Bad marketers created spam; technologists developed very good spam filters.
  • Bad marketers tried to hijack search engines; search engine companies developed artificial intelligence to defeat them.
  • Bad marketers flooded the web with terrible, irrelevant ads; technologists developed ad blocking software.

Today, publishers and advertisers try to block ad blockers:


Why is this doomed to fail? Ad blocking technology will eventually learn to detect the pixels detecting ad blockers and fool sites, but that’s not the reason publishers will fail.

The reason publishers will fail to stop ad blockers is because of content shock, the phenomenon described by Mark Schaefer in which content creators flood the world with far more content than audiences can ever consume. Let’s look at an example.

In 2013, Instagram users loaded 40 million photos per day to the service – 27,000 photos a minute. In late 2015, Instagram users loaded 90 million photos per day to the service – 62,500 photos a minute. Suppose, out of all the photos on Instagram, 5% are really great. 10% are good. Maybe 65% are mediocre. The last 20% are awful.

Types of Instagram Photos.png

In just three years, Instagram users are loading 2.25x more photos to the service. The number of great photos loaded in 2016 is greater than the number of good photos in 2013.

What does that mean for us? It means audiences don’t have to tolerate anything less than great. Good isn’t good enough when our options for great content explode by 225% in just 3 years.

For publishers and advertisers seeking to put up walls blocking ad blockers, the audience doesn’t have to tolerate the wall. Instead of complying, the audience will simply move onto a different source of great content. The publisher loses the ad revenue and the audience’s loyalty.

What’s the solution for marketers and advertisers? Create great ads. We know for certain that audiences will watch great ads. According to the official YouTube blog, audiences have watched Super Bowl 50 ads – yes, even Puppy Monkey Baby – more than 330 million times. Create ads people want, ads that are as good as the great content consumers will choose, and we won’t need ad blockers.

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Small business digital advertising bakeoff

What’s working today for small budget advertising? For my book, the biggest social network of all: Facebook.

leading-innovation-cspenn-portrait-book-cover.pngOver the last week and a half, I’ve been busy launching my new book, Leading Innovation. In my normal duties at SHIFT Communications, I have access to budgets in the thousands of dollars or more for clients who have objectives other than pure direct-sales ROI.

When I’m doing my own work, I pay as I go; pre-orders fund the first round of advertising, and I only add budget as I earn it. Why? This methodology keeps me laser-focused on ROI. Neutral or negative ROI gets the ax; like many small businesses, I can’t pay for more advertising with money I don’t have. This is a key point: my strategy is to sell as many books as possible at the highest margins achievable. Not every author has the same strategy or goals, nor should they.

What did I do to launch my book? I had earned enough in pre-orders to sustain a week-long ad campaign on three different ad networks: Google’s AdWords, Twitter, and Facebook.

  • To maximize ROI, I focused my ad campaigns on all three networks to my existing audiences only.
  • I’ve had retargeting tracking bugs on my website for several years, tagging every visitor for inclusion in product launch campaigns.
  • I also used Customer Match on AdWords, Tailored Audiences on Twitter, and Custom Audiences on Facebook, using my email newsletter list as the data source.
  • I used the same copy and/or images for all three networks. Facebook’s campaign also included Instagram.
  • I also included email marketing for comparison, since I’m an avid user of WhatCounts Publicaster, still the greatest email marketing software on the planet.

How did the testing go? Which service did the best? The results:


Of the ad networks, Facebook thus far has done the best – but still has negative ROI. Twitter did the worst by far, with incredibly high costs and lackluster performance.

Some caveats:

All campaigns capped their budgets daily. It’s entirely possible that they could have performed better with additional upfront investment; whenever an ad campaign caps its budget, you’ve left audience on the table. However, like any other small business, I could afford what I could afford.

Email isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison because it’s a monthly fee, rather than a media buy. Keep that in mind.

AdWords was search plus display retargeting only.

None of these campaigns did any kind of outreach or brand building to net new audiences. These campaigns only focused on monetizing existing audiences. For larger brands, net new audiences and brand building matters. For the small business / sole proprietor, we rely on organic methods to grow our audiences and paid methods to monetize them.

What should you take away from my testing?

The most important lesson you can take away is to run a similar test. My audience is unique to me. My results will be unique to me.

Set up a similar test for your own marketing with the budget you have, with the audience you have, with the copy and creative you have.

Find out what works best for you. Keep an eagle eye on ROI. Do more of what works, less of what doesn’t work.

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