This post about Twitter was adapted from a blog by Kenny Soto that originally appeared on SCORE.


Despite recent controversies, Twitter still has roughly 328 million monthly active users. While other platforms, such as Facebook, have far more users, and others, like Instagram are growing faster (and get more engagement), that doesn’t mean you should dismiss Twitter.

In any aspect of your marketing strategy, attributing the time you invest in marketing efforts is key. You cannot accomplish this spending all your time on social media. So, your goal for Twitter should be to listen to the conversations your customers are having.

Despite the thousands of free or inexpensive marketing technology tools available, you can learn a lot about your customers by simply using Twitter search.

Using Twitter search

Here are some tips for searching on Twitter.

  • You will obtain different search results when using a hashtagand a keyword (for example #Hotdogs vs Hotdogs).
  • Create a schedule for when you search. You can reference Twitter analytics to learn about your customers’ peak hours of social activity. To start, schedule three or four 15-minute time slots on your daily schedule.
  • Even if it isn’t relevant to your business, search trending topics for examples of how other companies produce content. This will give you ideas for how to create your own content when relevant topics start to trend.

These are just tactics you can use for a starting point. Also note that the reason you want to prioritize listening before posting on Twitter is it reinforces the habit of researching. Researching your customers’ conversations will help you optimize your content over time. Plus, it will give you insights into how they aren’t being served, what your competitors are doing, what news publications your audience consumes, and who’s influencing them within your industry and related fields.

Who should you follow?

When is the right time to post content? If you’re a small business, finding ways to engage with customers is difficult. Users go on Twitter for news about their friends, family and the world around them. If your content is too promotional, you run the risk of being ignored—even when you optimize your writing so users can discover you.

If you want to do more than just listen on Twitter however, you should first find businesses and users in your industry to follow for inspiration and to learn how they grow their audiences.

When auditing profiles to potentially emulate, focus on are retweets and replies. Favorites and the total number of followers are vanity metrics because there isn’t a clear connection to the quality of conversation that they engage in. And Twitter is all about creating conversations.

Create Twitter lists to categorize profiles you’re studying. This makes studying your feed easier because you’re segmenting the content that’s streaming through your timeline. You can also categorize the customers who engage with you the most so you can build relationships with them. [Editor’s note: For instance, my lists include ones for small business (industry information), clients, marketing and trends. RL]

Measuring success

Although Twitter may not be your primary social platform for connecting with your customers, don’t discredit it as a useful marketing  tool. Keeping a consistent schedule for listening is enough to keep your finger on the pulse. You don’t need to post on the platform to find it useful. Nor do you need to focus on all the available metrics to discover trends and conversations you can contribute to.

If you want to understand how the metrics in Twitter work, visit the Twitter Analytics dashboard. There are a ton of resources where you can learn about the ads platform and how to understand your data. Check out  SocialMediaExaminer.

Social media is just one part of your digital marketing strategy. If you want to know what your customers and clients are talking about, experiment with Twitter at least 10 minutes a day. It might be easier to do that when you’re on the go, via a mobile device or smartwatch.


This post is adapted from “Is Twitter Valuable for a Small Business Owner” which originally appeared on

Kenny Soto volunteers at SCORE NYC, giving presentations on content production and social media marketing in SCORE’s series of local workshops. He provides pro bono marketing services for the organization, also assisting in mentoring sessions for clients who need specific expertise in digital marketing.