Is Twitter The New List?

A couple of years ago the mantra in Internet Marketing circles was ‘build your list’.

It made a lot of sense to build a list (a warm market you could promote to for free), but it kind of overlooked the fact that in order to get a list you first had to get people to your website so they could opt in to it.

So you still had to do all that marketing and promotional stuff.

Today it’s a lot easier. In fact you may not even need a list.  

You have Twitter.

The logic behind developing an active, valuable list was that you were creating a relationship with your readers (list members).  Once you had this relationship you could promote anything you liked to them and they’d buy. (Well – that was the theory).

There was all sorts of advice on the correct mix of promotional emails versus ‘giving useful information’ emails, and so on.

And you had to deal with spam filters and deliverability rates, one of which was becoming ever tougher and the other ever lower as a result.

You also had to spend time writing informative emails.  Coming up with valuable content so your list didn’t see you as simply sending them promotion after promotion.

But the problem I found was that my emails were competing with a hundred-and-one other emails in my lists’ in boxes. And getting any interaction going was well nigh impossible.

So creating that relationship was pretty tough.

But today it’s all so much easier.

Firstly, you can find yourself a genuinely warm market by doing some simple market research.

Just use the Twitter search function to find people asking questions related to your product.

Then answer those questions.

No self promotion.  Just answer the questions that you can, accurately and politely.

As you do that, people will start to follow you, because you’re providing useful information.

And it’s a heck of a lot easier to develop a relationship with your followers. Instead of sitting down to write a ‘useful’ email, you can just respond to questions they’re asking. In 140 characters or less.

They’ll probably thank you, and then you have a genuine conversation going.

Pretty soon you’ll have a list of followers who make up a very warm market – just like your list was supposed to do for you.

And if you then use TwitterFeed or something similar to deliver your blog posts to Twitter via RSS, they’ll get to see all your new posts each time you put one up.

And you’ll start getting more visitors to your blog.

Assuming your blog is focused on your product, you’re now getting a whole raft of new visitors exposed to your products. And they’re already your warm market.

Which was exactly the logic behind developing your list.

So yes – for me, Twitter is the new List.

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Chris Feb 27, 2009 @ 23:21


    You know this type of thing is my forte. (I think I’m even following you on twitter.)

    Although, I am going to have to disagree with you here. I think in theory what you’re suggesting would work. And I think the future will look a lot more like what you’re suggesting but at this time it is impractical to devote, even more than a few minutes, to marketing your company on Twitter.

    I did a little research and the numbers confirmed my assertions. (I have a link to an in depth study on Twitter demographics but I don’t want to get blocked by the spam filter. I’ll post below) More than half of Twitter users visit the site only once, the majority of the users are 18-24, and while you may be able to drum up a niche following of a few thousand followers, how many questions are you going to really get to answer about your product or service? Too passive.

    Don”t get me wrong though. If a huge company like Microsoft or Apple had a million followers, of course there would be tons of questions (and insults) to address. But this certainly doesn’t serve the same purpose as an email list or news letter. This is more of a “Facebook Page” model. A new channel, not a replacement for an old one.

    There’s been a lot of buzz about Dell’s Twitter coupon. According to TechCrunch, Dell is offering printable coupons and announcing sales offers on Twitter. I can see this approach working for a very large company. It’s free and easy to blast a short message to throngs of people. If they pick up on it, great. If not, who cares?

    For a home business, this just isn’t the case. You’re trying to establish deeper relationships with less people and I just don’t see that happening in 140 characters. Quality versus quantity.

    I agree, we need to find more dynamic ways to separate ourselves from the dozens of emails that make it into everyone’s in box. Good content is king for starters. Hopefully technology will improve the way we filter useful versus useless information in our inbox.

    I just think Twitter, as exciting and fun to use as it is, is not that solution yet.

    Chris O.
    Referral Key
    “Your Trusted Referral Network”

  • Karin H. Feb 28, 2009 @ 0:11

    “For a home business, this just isn’t the case. You’re trying to establish deeper relationships with less people and I just don’t see that happening in 140 characters. Quality versus quantity.”

    My thought exactly – and not just for home businesses, for most small businesses. We’re a small retailer with a rather ‘huge’ following of Newsletter Readers – all ‘collected’ with AWeber – to build up our list. We are a specialised retailer – we cannot answer any product related question in only 140 characters! Sometimes not even in a single email – so we turn the long answers into a “How to” guide.

    That’s relationship building with your list.

    As person I also prefer Facebook over Twitter, as small retail business I still prefer our FAQ & News site (aka blog, along side our ‘static website’) and one of my favourite online software programs AWeber.

    Twitter? I still “don’t get it”, not as person and not as small business. The last few weeks you hear nothing but Twitter for businesses, Twitter handbooks, Twitter this and Twitter that. Typical ‘jump-on-the-bandwagon’ in most cases I think.
    The most and thought provoking – for everyone to see – conversations still happen in the good old comment boxes! (Be it on blogs or on Facebook)

    Crhis O, can I pretty please quote from your comment in a blog-post I’m thinking of?

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

    Karin H.´s last blog post..Why opt-in email marketing is the right – the only – way to grow

  • Chris Feb 28, 2009 @ 1:57

    Kain H.,

    Yes you can quote me any time. I subscribed to your blog. Please subscribe to mine so we can keep up with each other.

    I also think it’s important to note that Martin is exploring the possibilities of applying social technologies to business. While we both don’t see too much value in Twitter specifically, that could change overnight with the right add-on or an extension.

    I pretty much understand how Twitter works, I just don’t really see how it is that useful or different than Facebook’s “What are you doing?” at the top of every profile.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but essentially on Twitter aren’t you just constantly saying, “I am doing this”, “We am doing that”, “You are doing this”, “He is doing that”… ?

    • WealthyDragon Feb 28, 2009 @ 8:30

      Karin, Chris, hi,

      Thanks, both, for those thoughts.

      I think there are a couple of angles here: one for marketing and promoting your home business and one for how Twitter could be used for bigger businesses – Microsoft, Dell etc.

      Let me deal, firstly, with the home business angle and marketing a site.

      And let me kick off with a few of my own experiences since I started using Twitter:

      * The number of weekly visitors to my blog is now approaching 5 times what it was before I started using Twitter (2 months ago).

      * I’m getting nearly 6 times the number of new followers a day (and I’m not using any of the automated spamware that so many use).

      * I got my first new business from a Twitter contact about 2 weeks ago.

      * I’ve participated in a 3-way Twitter conversation that resulted in a friend of mine getting new business.

      * I’ve been able identify two key areas that people are keen to know about and where, as a Marketer, I’ve been able to meet needs. In one case I had a blog post already written, in the other case I’ve written 2 posts to specifically address the needs I identified. (If I was doing this full time I’d be concentrating on developing products to meet these needs instead of just blog posts).

      I’ve written elsewhere in some detail on what I actually do, but I’ll repeat it quickly here: I use the advanced search function to bring up queries on my area of interest. I then just answer those questions.

      In total it probably takes me no more than an hour a day – spread out in short bursts of activity here and there. I set the search running and every time a list of around 15 – 20 new questions has built up I hop over and see whether there are any I can answer. Sometimes there are, sometimes not.

      I answer any (and all) questions that I can in my area of interest – whether or not they relate to anything I’m promoting. In the case of those two areas that are persistent questions I answer the question briefly and offer the asker a link to the relevant post.

      BTW – in a previous post I wrote on Twitter, I put a link to an article on Copyblogger where it was revealed that Brian Clark has been getting sales of Thesis by doing precisely what I’ve described above.

      Although I haven’t done an analysis of the demographics of my Twitter followers, those with whom I’ve had some meaningful conversations are all (my guess) in the 30 – 50 age group: work at home Mums trying to get a home business going, boomers coming to retirement looking for something to do to earn money and escape boredom. The business I got was from someone running a small trading business.

      So for me, as a part time home business owner, Twitter is working extremely well.

      To turn to how bigger businesses are using Twitter:

      Companies like ComScore, Comcast, Southwest Airlines, Network Solutions and Verizon are all companies that use Twitter to improve their customer and reputation management. A Google search on Customer Management with Twitter will turn up several examples of how these and other companies are using it.

      As my day job is related to Customer Care and Customer Operations, I’m an ardent supporter of using Twitter as part of a Customer Care strategy for bigger businesses. It can greatly improve your customers’ experience and it’s highly cost-effective.

      So while, undoubtedly, a good proportion of the 5 million or so Twitter users are saying ‘I’m doing this’, a large and growing number are not. They’re the ones that you need to get hold of.



  • Eric Feb 28, 2009 @ 9:45

    Hi Folks,

    This is a great discussion you have started here Martin.

    And I agree with Martin’s approach. As a small business owner, who also runs a web hosting service, Twitter has been a great way to drive traffic to my sites. And as a result, this traffic is converting more of them into customers.

    So far, this has been the best marketing method for me to date.

    Perhaps much of this depends on what your product is, or what you are searching for on Twitter. I couldn’t see this being successful for some of my other sites (i.e. – Medical tourism). But in the broad niche where Martin and I sit, I am very happy with the results I have had so far.

    They have been more successful than my list building efforts.

    Eric´s last blog post..55 Tips for Search Engine Optimization

    • WealthyDragon Feb 28, 2009 @ 12:01

      Eric, hi,

      Yes – it’s true that Twitter’s probably going to be better suited to promoting some businesses than others.

      I just did a search on Medical Tourism and there are plenty of questions there, but definitely not as frequent as IM or blogging type questions. Based on what I found just now there are probably 2 or 3 new questions a day.

      I guess that just proves you need to hang out where your market is..!



  • Karin H. Feb 28, 2009 @ 17:08

    Hi all

    (Chris, have already placed your blog in my reader too ;-))

    I think we all – in business – talk about and promote those online tools, be it Social Media or ‘standard’ tools, that are most profitable (time wise, lead generating wise, conversation with prospect, clients wise) for ourselves.

    I’m never averse to using a new ‘tool on the block’ – started blogging 5 years ago, AWeber 2 years ago, Facebook and LinkedIn three months ago, Twitter in January. In some I immediately see truly as an asset to our business, some I need to figure out a bit more and some I cannot see working for our business.

    I think we all have those experiences and sometimes we tend to be very enthusiastic about our reasons for doing or not doing 😉 And we learn from each other.

    That’s life in the fast lane of the Internet 😉

    Karin H

    Karin H.´s last blog post..Why opt-in email marketing is the right – the only – way to grow

    • WealthyDragon Mar 1, 2009 @ 8:19

      Karin, hi,

      Agreed – and I think it’s important to always keep a mix of promotional methods on the go.

      Despite my comments above I do have a list, which I manage through Aweber, and which is steadily growing. But my experience is still that I can more easily get interaction going with my Twitter followers than my list members – possibly because it’s more immediate.



  • Karin H. Mar 1, 2009 @ 22:12

    Hi Martin

    Just published my own post on the very subject. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised where this discussion lead to. 😉

    Karin H.´s last blog post..Why opt-in email marketing is the right – the only – way to grow

    • WealthyDragon Mar 2, 2009 @ 7:18

      Hi Karin,

      Loved your analogy: invention vs innovation.

      I hope your Twitter searches bring you some good new leads – I feel kind of responsible now 🙂

      Let us know how it goes,



  • Chris Mar 2, 2009 @ 22:49


    I was out for the weekend but can see that there’s a lot of healthy conversation going.

    I am going to give Martin’s Twitter strategy a run and get back to you. Maybe even do my own story on it.

    I also see that you moved up in the rankings. Great stuff.

    Referral Key
    “Your Trusted Referral Network”

    • WealthyDragon Mar 3, 2009 @ 6:45


      Hope it works well for you – look forward to hearing the results,



  • Sachendra Yadav Jun 29, 2009 @ 20:50

    I think the most important thing to remember when using Twitter is to answer “what’s important to me” instead of “what am i doing”
    .-= Sachendra Yadav´s last blog post: Has Twitter crossed the chasm? =-.

    • WealthyDragon Jun 29, 2009 @ 21:02

      Hi Sachendra,

      Thanks for dropping in!

      Actually my approach when using Twitter is “How can I be useful to someone”. It’s kind of along the lines of ‘give and ye shall receive’ 🙂



  • Tricia Aug 27, 2009 @ 3:02

    I tried Twitter just to see what it was. I didn’t like it. It just seemed everyone was promoting something. It’s great for that. I found a lot of porno things. It was weird. I don’t use it anymore.
    .-= Tricia´s last blog ..JetBlue Airways launches their “Bikini Sale” Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Aruba only $29 =-.

    • WealthyDragon Aug 27, 2009 @ 7:39

      Hi Tricia,

      For sure there’s a lot of spam on Twitter – but by using the advanced search function you can weed a lot of that out and just find people who are interested in your topic.

      (There’ll still be spam amongst those, though – just not so much!)

      I’ll be doing a short video over the weekend on how to set up the advanced search function – hopefully that will help a bit 🙂