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TechCrunch

How to Grow Your Brand on Twitter. 5 Overarching Guidelines. Tons of Examples.

Note: This article originally appeared on TechCrunch ("5 Ways for Startups to Grow Their Brands on Twitter”). Last week I began an effort to answer those questions I get asked most frequently, starting with how to create an early-stage pitch deck. Today, I address the next most popular question: how best to grow your brand on Twitter? Twitter is the ultimate marketing platform. But the scale of Twitter is so extraordinary (250 million tweets / day) that it is actually quite easy to get lost in the noise.

Separating yourself from the masses really begins with the recognition that Twitter is first and foremost a platform for conversation. If you believe that, you avoid the mistake most brands make: treating Twitter as a mechanism to push content rather than create engagement.

And once your goal is to foster conversation and engagement, you can follow these five guidelines:

1. Listen. 2. Be authentic. 3. Be compelling. 4. Find the influencers. 5. Extend off-twitter and onto your site.

In the below presentation, I breakdown these core themes and provides examples of people and companies successfully using Twitter to drive engagement and grow their brands.

PR for Startups: Dogpatch Labs Event with VentureBeat & TechCrunch

Wednesday evening, Dogpatch Labs hosted a "PR for Startups" event alongside Anthony Ha of VentureBeat and Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch. Topics included: - what is newsworthy - how and when to engage press / bloggers - who to engage and with what tact - when to use internal vs. external PR leads

Below is a list of 11 great takeaways written by David Hua of Wellsphere and Health Central. The pictures are from Dogpatch resident Art Chang (of FanPulse). Art also has a list of six takeaways from the evening - available on his blog.

Takeaways from PR for Startups Event (by David Hua)

1. Short and Sweet - Send concise emails stating what your company does and why it is interesting. 48-72 hours of notice before a launch is recommended.

2. Video Walkthroughs - Emails with a youtube video walkthrough (1-2min) is helpful

3. The Elephant in the Room - Don't be afraid to compare yourself with the competitor. Do show how you are different.

4. Pay attention to the Calendar - Plan your launch with the calendar in mind. Do not release your news around big events, announcements, or a busy day of news.

5. A Day in the Life - Tech Bloggers put out 3-6 posts a day. If it is a slow day for them, email them something interesting and cc their tips@URL.com email (launches, acquisitions, and funding are big news items)

6. Headlines - Don't suggest one and don't use a misleading subject line, it's annoying

7. Assets Ready - In the follow up email or phone call with the writer, make sure you send an email with screen shots, company information, and video (optional).

8. Build relationships - If you know something interesting that doesn't pertain to your company, send the tip along to the writer, they are helpful.

9. Meetups - Invitations for lunch, dinner, and events are welcomed

10. Clear communication every step of the way - Be very clear what you mean about "exclusive". (i.e How long a particular writer has an exclusive for? Notification if you are moving on with the news to another publication.)

11. Traffic Observations – Techcrunch sends firehose amounts of traffic over the course of a few days whereas VentureBeat sends a consistent amount of traffic over a longer period of time

Dogpatch Labs Resident FanPulse Launches for Super Bowl

Congratulations to Dogpatch Labs residents Fanpulse on the launch of their iPhone App - just in time for the Super Bowl. FanPulse allows sports fans to "check in" to sporting games and interact with other fans in real-time. Congratulations to Vish Prabhakara (formerly Digg), Art Chang (Yardbarker) and Joe Pestro (Yardbarker). We are glad to host them at Dogpatch Labs San Francisco. For more information:

- read the TechCrunch launcharticle - download the FanPulse app here - visit them on the web at Fanpul.se

Meebo's Share Functionality on TechCrunch: Drag & Drop onto Facebook & Twitter

If you have visited TechCrunch today, you likely noticed the Meebo chat integration in the page footer. The Meebo bar allows users to connect via Facebook, AIM, and other popular clients. It also acts as a carriage for rich ad-units (similar to VideoEgg's roll-over ads). I accidentally happened upon a different, equally interesting component of the Meebo integration: you can share images and content directly onto Twitter, Facebook, email and instant messaging. Simply hover over an image and then drag it into the header's drop down icons. Very slick and an obvious value-add for the publisher: one click viral promotion.

Facebook uses the "Facebook Share" functionality to post to the feed (I imagine Facebook Connect would be the next version). When posting to Twitter, it populates your Twitter.com speech box with a "short" URL (go.meebo.com/techcrunch.com/uid) and the article's title (I imagine the next version will have a bitly-encoded URL):

http://go.meebo.com/techcrunch.com/8n Right Before Facebook Bought It, FriendFeed’s Real-Time Stream Saw A Flood Of Usage

meebo-share-drag

meebo-spotlight

Tweetmeme, Bitly, Retweets and Blog Comments

Even if a small change, it is telling that TechCrunch has added a Tweetmeme "retweet" counter to their homepage... directly beneath the comments counter (and visually more powerful). It is also telling that the reteweet numbers are often 5-10x the comments. twitter-techcrunch

I am not suggesting that either onsite comments are disappearing or less valuable that offsite comments (namely Twitter and Facebook) - but it is a powerful, fast-changing dynamic... and clearly publishers and brands need to understand, encourage and facilitate activity both on and off their domains. In this example, the TechCrunch post saw 10,000+ pageviews arrive from Bit.ly-only URLs:

techcrunch-bitly

Of course, as the conversation continues to become distributed, data and measurement become tougher to collect and mine. Danny Sullivan has two good, recent articles on how Twitter may be delivering 500%+ more traffic to your site than you currently believe.

- Is Twitter Sending You 500% To 1600% More Traffic Than You Might Think? - How Twitter Might Send Far More Traffic Than You Think

It is also important to remember that discussion and engagement themselves have great value... regardless of location and in ways measured beyond pageviews.

The Real-Time Web, Authority Filtering & CrunchUp Themes

Yesterday TechCrunch put on the "Real-Time CrunchUp" event to discuss what has been billed as the real-time web. Alongside several product demos and company launches, the most prominent discussion topics were: - Business models and opportunities (Ron Conway provided his ten ideas)

- Businesses vs. Features: are these products able to sustain themselves as companies or are they features within larger companies

- Is the real-time web just beginning or is the lifecycle relatively advanced? And what does this mean for Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other big company's abilities to compete?

- Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Friendfeed and what each mean for openness, competition, user experience and, ultimately, the consumer

- Noise. A theme I have written much about: the real-time web is overwhelming. How do we filter the noise to arrive at what is most important and relevant. And does filtering mean that the web is no-longer real time? The last theme (noise) is most important to me because, as the real-time web becomes more popular (and it will), it becomes increasingly difficult to digest and decipher. This is where Facebook will have a major advantage (using the social graph and 'like' / commenting systems). It is also where Friendfeed has already done a great job by using activity, relevancy, social connections, etc to deliver the news that it considers most important:

friendfeed-realtime-web

Other companies that are well-positioned here (and that I have covered; click for coverage): - Tweetmeme - Bitly - Aardvark

And proof that filtering is especially critical for Twitter - even if, as many of the CrunchUp panelists argued, it delays the immediacy of the real-time web: beside the live-stream of the CrunchUp final panel was a Twitter widget displaying 'relevant' tweets (defined by hashtags). Spammers quickly and repeated followed. I added the below screenshot and blocked out the very graphic user icon:

10% of TechCrunch's Traffic Comes from Twitter

Want to know the value of being a "Suggested User" on Twitter? Jason Calacanis offered $250,000 to lock in that slot for two years. Twitter rejected the overture.

But TechCrunch has one of those coveted spots and now has 725,000+ followers - making @Techcrunch one of the largest Twitter users. What does that mean for TechCrunch's traffic? About 10% of TechCrunch's visits now come from Twitter - a staggering number and proof that Calacanis's bid was far from crazy.

Considering that Facebook has become the top referrer for sites like HuffingtonPost, it is interesting that Facebook isn't even in TechCrunch's top five referrals. It is also an indication of both the power of being a top Twitter user and the benefit brands can realize from building their Twitter reputations.

Of course this is also bad news for Google - who is losing share and focus from consumers, brands and marketers to social sources like Twitter and Facebook. Just as companies focused heavily on SEO and internet marketing over the last few years - marketers will be expanding that focus to the distributed web:

Top Sources of Traffic To TechCrunch 1. Google: 32.7% 2. Direct: 22.7% 3. Twitter: 9.7% 4. Digg: 7.4% 5. Techmeme: 2.4% 6. Other: 25.1%

"For us, and I’d argue increasingly for other large Websites as well, Twitter is not just about micro-media. The most powerful Tweets are those which point elsewhere. Or to put it another way, the shortened link may just be the most powerful type of micro-media there is. Those retweeted links are turning Twitter into a social broadcast media that rivals any other on the Web."

Amid Layoff Speculation, Google Ramps GMail Advertising

Google has covered Techmeme, VentureBeat, WebGuild, and others today amidst speculation that Google layoffs are coming... and 10,000 workers are affected. Whether those rumors are wholly true (my clear hunch: no), I've noticed another clear economic impact:

My GMail account is being littered with new, unwanted ads.

Google needs more pageviews. As ad dollars fall, increased pageviews is one of the few ways to offset the downturn.We saw this with:

- YouTube - Google Images

.... and now GMail. It seems to me that this move was masked by Google's new, well-received GMail Themes - which was launched just a few days ago. Now, every email I have has vertical ads layered beside the email's content - with an ad unit horizontally above.

What's coming next?

Gmail Ads Google

How about a Techmeme Jr. (or Techmeme Minor League)?

I love Techmeme. And I've written as much many times before. I also have noted that the Techmeme Headlines are increasingly being written by major blogs and brands. Meanwhile, other bloggers have written that Techmeme should expand their sources to more, lesser-known blogs.

While I'm not sure I agree (there is value in having established, big sources), I do think that the following idea has merit:

Techmeme Junior

Techmeme, Jr.

Think of it like a minor league system for Techmeme where lesser-known blogs are featured and big brands like TechCrunch wouldn't be included (after all, they are included on Techmeme.com). As a minor league system typically works - it would act as a showcase for upcoming talent and, should an author or source grow popular / credible, it can make it's way into a regular on Techmeme.com.

This is powerful for a few reasons:

- The readers who want more depth out of Techmeme now have a avenue - Those readers add a social value to Techmeme and create a community (see YCombinator / Technews for a great example) - Those users would act as talent agents for Techmeme.com - And consequently help Techmeme discover new talent / blogs and grow their sourcing

Personally, I'd probably use Techmeme Jr. more than Techmeme.com because I already read TechCrunch and Engadget. I want to discover new content that is already credible and relevant.

Techmeme Leaderboard