What I Learned From Researching 1000s of Twitter Followers

Do we really know who we’re talking to when we tweet? Knowing your audience is one of the most important rules of marketing, yet we often don't know who we're talking to on twitter.

I worked with several members of my team to break down and analyze--manually--1000s of twitter followers for EMC's solutions group. Working with the social leads from each solutions team, we’ll use this follower analysis data to craft content that makes the right impression on our customers, partners, influencers, and prospects. It's no secret knowing your audience has immense benefits and we certainly didn't want to miss out.

Before we learn how we did, I wanted to take a step back and talk through process and what we learned through the course of the project.

1. Know What You Want to Know

This sounds fairly simple, but for us, what we wanted to know evolved over the course of the project. The categories we created at the beginning didn't quite get specific enough for our findings in some of our handles, so we dug deeper to find out titles and companies that our followers disclosed. This helped us better understand who was following us by persona type, and made for very helpful analysis.

2. Sometimes, You Just Have to Roll Up Your Sleeves

We found follower wonk to be a great tool to give us a snapshot of geography and timing about our followers, but it couldn't give us everything we needed. There were some questions specific to EMC that we wanted to know: how many people following us were EMCers? From marketing? From sales? The online automated tools weren't as much of the magic bullet as we'd hoped they would be. Though it was painful to go through everything manually, it was definitely worth it.

3. It's All About Who, Not What

Influencer marketing is the next wave of these types of commercials, like the one above. We trust experts and executives to know more than us; therefore, their opinion is more likely to sway potential buyers.

Identifying influencers made this process worthwhile. We defined them as anyone with over 10,000 followers,meaning that when they're tweeting, a LOT of people are listening (theoretically). Taking a look at these specific followers and looking at their complete online presence, from LinkedIn to personal websites, helped us understand them all a little better. After all, if someone is following us interested in big data, but also interested in motorbike racing or Formula 1, our Morecambe Missile or Lotus F1 team projects would resonate with them more than some of our other content. Knowing information like this will be valuable moving forward and help set the stage for content strategies that make the most impact.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of teamwork on this project. My team worked together on each step of the way, visualizing data, digging into the raw analysis, and gut checking against our expectations.

The results? Improved social content strategies across solutions, and we'll know more in a few quarters with what's happened with our engagement metrics.

This post originally appeared on the #VIBE Lorum Ipsum Project, a best practices sharing group for EMC's internal online collaboration platform, Inside EMC.