According to our research on 500 B2B CMOs and marketing managers, 39% of their marketing budget goes toward social media marketing – and for good reason. It’s a rapidly adaptable, cost-effective, impactful way to increase brand engagement (a top goal for 51% of CMOs).
There are plenty of platforms that businesses can choose to maintain a presence on, and each one offers unique opportunities to reach potential customers, communicate with existing customers, discuss industry topics with experts, and, ultimately, increase the profile of a brand and generate leads.
So why B2B Twitter? When you think about Twitter, what is the first thing you think of? Elon Musk? Donald Trump? Trending? Controversial? Pile on?
What if we told you that Twitter is also a dark horse in B2B marketing?
LinkedIn might be the go-to social media platform for B2B businesses, but trust us, Twitter has a lot of potential. Twitter follows closely behind LinkedIn as the second largest platform for B2B marketing. Our data shows that B2B CMOs spend an average of £10,840 advertising on Twitter every year.
But this is all about quality, not quantity. Twitter is the platform of choice for a significant number of business decision makers. Compared with the average users of other platforms, Twitter’s users are also older, more educated and higher earners. In short, there may be fewer total Twitter users, but they could just be the people you’re trying to reach.
Don’t take our word for it – here are some hard facts that demonstrate why investing time in B2B Twitter is worthwhile:
That said, the picture is actually a little more complex. There are risks for businesses using any social network, but Twitter has been more erratic than most under Elon Musk’s leadership. Many of the world’s largest brands, such as Volkswagen and Pfizer, paused ad spending on Twitter after Musk tore up the rulebook in the early weeks of his leadership.
Things have settled down considerably since then, but it’s still a more volatile social network than, for example, LinkedIn. Since Musk’s takeover, almost four in five employees quit or were fired. Policy changes are seemingly announced on a whim and then, in some cases, hastily rolled back. In short, brands that don’t have the resources available to navigate each change might want to focus their efforts elsewhere.
If that’s the case, why should any brand bother? For one, the network effect is strong: some journalists and important business thinkers have left the platform, but many remain. There’s also the unique structure and feature set that rocketed the platform to success in the first place, most of which is still in place.
The bottom line: Twitter remains a valuable social network, especially for B2B businesses, and – at least for now – there are still serious upsides available to businesses that can stand the volatility.
How does Twitter work?
To understand Twitter’s unique appeal, we need to consider its roots and structure. Twitter’s original USP was that it was a ‘microblogging’ site. Unlike LinkedIn or Facebook, where you can go on for paragraphs, tweets need to be short and sweet (originally 180 characters, these days 10,000 characters if you have a Twitter Blue account). That’s plenty to get an idea across.
The traditional character limit also means that videos and images are a popular way of communicating on Twitter, but there are limits here too. Users can upload a maximum of four images per tweet and videos up to two minutes and twenty seconds (these limits are different for Twitter Blue subscribers at present, but that offering is continually being tweaked).
When people want to post some writing that’s a little longer, they can reply to their own tweets to create a thread. To make sure that people browsing know that a tweet is a thread, it’s worth using the word ‘thread’, numbering the tweets in the thread (e.g., 1/3, 2/3, 3/3), or even throwing in the thread emoji ( ). Threads still don’t lend themselves to particularly long writing – each tweet is still character limited – but they do make it possible to cover multiple key points that wouldn’t fit in one tweet.
The other fundamental part of Twitter that B2B marketers need to be aware of is the hashtag. This feature originated organically among users on the platform before being officially adopted by Twitter, making it the original home of the hashtag. Today, Twitter is still one of the most effective platforms for generating hashtag traffic, right alongside Instagram. Speaking of, check out our essential guide to B2B Instagram.
Like on other platforms, hashtags help people find related content, making them great for marketers looking to project expertise on trending topics or brand a particular campaign across channels. You’ll see TV programmes often encourage viewers to use a hashtag if they’re posting about it, and B2B can use similar tactics across printed, email or other marketing materials. Hashtags are particularly useful for the 500 million monthly visitors without accounts (and, as a result, without curated follow lists), as they make it easy to find what they’re looking for.
For people with accounts, Twitter offers the option to structure the newsfeed chronologically without the influence of the algorithm. Like all of Twitter’s features, this old-school option has consequences for your B2B Twitter strategy – more on that in the following section.
One big change that occurred under Musk’s leadership is publicly sharing the number of views that each tweet receives. This is pretty unique among social networks, and it gives some idea of which tweets are getting attention from Twitter’s huge audience of not-logged-in users.
View counts can both help and hinder a business’s efforts. It can be discouraging when a business’s tweet only garners a few views, and low view counts may turn prospective customers away. Conversely, brands that can gain real momentum will earn the cache associated with a larger audience.
This metric is also great for identifying the lifecycle of each piece of content. Marketers can easily see a tweet’s views rapidly grow and then plateau as it gets edged out by newer content. This can make for more accurate campaign evaluation – it’s not always best to gather your stats immediately after launch.
Finally, despite occasional mimicking of successful features on other platforms (like the now defunct Fleets or the not-a-copy-of-Clubhouse feature Spaces), Twitter has had the most success when it sticks to what it knows. This means that there is a well-developed understanding of what works, making it relatively straightforward to create a successful B2B Twitter strategy.
As with every successful strategy, you should first start thinking about where you want to end up and work backwards from there. This ensures that your strategy is grounded in your business’s organisational and communications objectives – likes and retweets are great, but only if they’re a means to a greater end.
It’s really important to know what you want to achieve and how you’ll measure how close you’re getting before you start planning. These goals are the ‘why’ of your B2B Twitter strategy.
As we’ve explained in our family of B2B essential guides, such as our guide to B2B LinkedIn, there are a variety of objectives that a strong, platform focused, social media strategy can help you achieve, including building brand awareness, brand advocacy, customer retention and lead generation.
Create a content plan
With a clear set of goals in mind, it’s time to consider how you reach them – and that means content. New, varied, and engaging material keeps B2B Twitter running, and the best stuff usually rises to the top.
Content doesn’t need to go ‘viral’ – it just needs to make an impact on the people that matter. Some popular ways to generate content include:
Thoughts on news in your sector. Every business has a unique perspective and in-house expertise, and – if you can distil it down to a tweet-length insight – there are people who want to hear it.
Useful resources. Giving away free guides to help potential customers overcome issues is a classic way to demonstrate expertise and build goodwill. On Twitter, you can link to an existing guide, or get just the key points across in a single tweet, thread or video.
Responses to others in the sector. Conversation with others, whether they’re customers, experts, or even competitors, is part of what makes B2B Twitter so popular.
Direct promotion. It’s perfectly fine to promote your products or services, especially if you’re launching something new or celebrating a major milestone, just don’t do it too frequently or people will unfollow.
Using hashtags is high on the list of B2B Twitter best practices, but it’s easy to go #toofar. Check the hashtags that you plan on using to ensure that they are relevant and appropriate and use them sparingly. Twitter’s algorithm – leaked via GitHub and since updated – even had a property called ‘multipleHashtags’ which applied a 40% penalty to a tweet’s reach (Twitter now says you can use as many hashtags as you like!).
An impactful brand voice breaks free of the cold, formal language of the past and speaks directly to potential customers about the issues and opportunities facing them. Your brand voice needs to be broadly consistent across platforms, but there is obviously flexibility to accommodate the things that make each one unique (like Twitter’s character limit). Overall, Twitter is a pretty casual, chatty platform, and straightforward, human-sounding tweets typically get the best response.
A successful content plan also combines a range of formats, including images and videos. Video rarely gets its due in the world of B2B marketing, but according to a Brightcove survey, 95% of B2B purchasers say that video takes them a step closer to spending money. Content also needs to be designed with an eye toward mobile, since three in five people use Twitter on their phones.
Planning content out ahead of time frees up capacity for clever, responsive tweets when there’s something worth reacting to. Significant dates like Earth Day are an opportunity to talk about how your business is working toward sustainability, for example.
A social media content calendar also ensures that you aren’t clustering too many similar posts together. Remember that some users see posts in chronological order, unmoderated by any algorithm, and they may unfollow if they feel bombarded by repetitive messages.
Whether they use the algorithmic or chronological timeline, Twitter moves quickly and posts have a relatively short life, so it’s important to tweet when your target audience are active. Keep track of tweet performance to find the best time for your business to post.
On Twitter, of course! You can either post to the site directly or use a tool for scheduling posts – check out our social media content guide for some suggestions.
Don’t forget the SEO angle
Another area where Twitter has an edge over other platforms is the fact that its content shows up on search engine results pages (SERPs). And while we’re on SEO, Twitter is great for demonstrating experience, expertise, authority and trust (EEAT, to use Google’s updated acronym). These are the signals that Google looks for to promote helpful, relevant results. It’s also very useful for ‘reconciliation’ – a technique Google uses to associate expertise and experience with specific authors – the search engine makes the point that there are lots of people with similar names in the world, so if you always link to your Twitter profile when discussing your particular area of expertise online, then it will begin to associate that profile with that particular area of expertise.
Twitter has a wide range of features for marketers to take advantage of. Plus, with the recent increase of its character limit, it’s clear that the platform will continue evolving – even if you don’t like where it’s going. That also means that some features may disappear (sorry again, Fleets), so don’t get too attached!
Not every feature will be right for every business, but some may be a shortcut to achieving your goals, so it’s important to understand what’s on offer. Here are nine features to consider when using Twitter for B2B marketing:
1 – verification: another Musk-era addition is verification for businesses. Setting aside the palaver of the early days, this feature has matured into something potentially useful. Verification for Organisations sets subscribers apart with square profile pictures and a gold checkmark.
Organisations with this type of verification can also list an unlimited number of Twitter users as employees. When they’re listed as employees, they gain a small version of the square business profile pic next to their username. This seamlessly demonstrates that they’re genuinely associated with the business.
Verification for Organisations may be a useful option for businesses that have a lot of employees actively using Twitter as part of their job. However, employees with the verification mark need to remember that their employer is even more visibly attached to them than before, so need to be mindful of what they say!
Note: currently, without Verification for Organisations you are not able to advertise on Twitter, so you’ll need to fork out or adjust your strategy accordingly.
2 -Twitter Trends: one reason that Twitter is an asset to B2B marketers of all kinds is that it offers an easy view into what’s big at any given moment. When Twitter users are paying attention to a topic, keyword, or hashtag, marketers should take notice.
Twitter automatically collates buzzy topics into Twitter Trends. On the app, trends are shown in their own tab (shared with the search bar, encouraging people to stumble onto popular topics), while on the website they have a prominent place on the right – regardless of whether the user is logged in or not.
Trends is a great tool for getting an idea of what’s popular right now and ensuring that your brand isn’t out of touch. Twitter moves fast, though, so you need to have your content creation process running like a well-oiled machine if you want to join the conversation.
3 – Twitter lists: with so much going on, it’s easy to get distracted. That’s why Twitter created Lists, a way to curate follow lists. People who use lists typically use them to group accounts that talk about one subject – if they’re into football, for example, they may have a list that includes their favourite footie-related accounts. Lists are public, so if someone has already curated the ultimate World Cup list, for example, you can just follow that.
Marketers can use this feature for themselves, perhaps creating a list for each product or service category they offer, or a list to keep up on competitors’ tweets. This makes it easy to stay up to date (just remember that the Lists – including whatever you name them – are public). If these prove useful, others in the sector may follow them.
4 – Twitter Communities: the inventively named ‘Twitter Communities’ is a feature that enables users to create their own groups, similar to a Facebook or LinkedIn group. Marketers can join existing groups of like-minded accounts or start their own, curating content relevant to their industry and building a reputation as a knowledgeable account.
Even though we’re talking about B2B Twitter, Communities tend not to focus on sales. They’re generally more focused on discussing topics and trends affecting the industry, overcoming specific challenges, and building relationships. If you burst into one of these spaces and start making sales pitches left and right, you’ll probably get the boot.
5 – Twitter Circles: a Twitter Circle is sort of like a Community and sort of like a List. It’s a group of up to 150 accounts that you can tweet exclusively to, safe from the curious eyes of the broader public. Only people you’ve added to the Circle can view and interact with content you post to your Circle.
For marketers, your Circle could be a select group of key brands and influencers. You could use the feature to position your brand as a thought leader, share industry knowledge, or workshop ideas before posting them to a wider audience.
6 – Twitter Polls: a staple of the platform since 2015, Twitter Polls are quick and easy to set up and can be a shortcut to get people talking. The feature works across platforms and, like the rest of the platform, sets clear limits that force people to get creative: a Poll can only have four options, and each one can have a maximum of 25 characters. When someone votes, they can see the results of the poll at that moment, and everyone can see the results once the poll closes.
7 – Twitter Spaces: Twitter’s answer to the audio-only social platform Clubhouse (which we thought had real potential), Twitter Spaces, enables users to have a literal conversation. The host can choose who can speak, but anyone can join, listen and request the chance to speak. As a result, it’s common to see journalists discussing the latest news while interested amateurs listen and ‘raise their hand’ to ask questions.
Spaces aren’t hugely popular in the B2B world, but when the sector’s expertise happens to intersect with a news item in the broader media, they get a huge boost. To be fair to Spaces, the feature is also fairly new and has potential to grow as people become more familiar with it.
8 – Twitter Blue: after a post-acquisition fracas about the role of the famous ‘verified’ checkmark, Twitter has made them available to anyone with $8 a month to spare. Twitter Blue is the site’s premium service, which offers access to features like tweet editing, ‘prioritised rankings’ in conversations and search and the ability to upload longer video. This feature set is constantly evolving and shifting as Twitter tries to find a niche for Blue.
Businesses don’t need to subscribe to Twitter Blue – the checkmark has lost its function as evidence that an account is what it claims to be – but they should consider it if they want access to specific features.
9 – Twitter Analytics: like any social platform worth its salt, Twitter provides a suite of tools for determining how your paid posts are being received. With Twitter Analytics, business accounts can monitor engagement to ensure that their content is performing as well as possible. Analytics delivers metrics on the number of impressions a tweet receives, people visiting your profile, @ mentions, links from other tweets, new followers, and more.
Advertising on Twitter
Right now you can only advertise on Twitter if you subscribe to Verification for Organisations at a hefty $1,000 per month. If your business is willing to spend, you’ve got plenty of options with Twitter Ads. In addition to its longstanding features for demographic and audience type targeting, Twitter has recently launched keyword targeting – a welcome addition.
In terms of formats, you can choose from text ads (which look like a normal tweet), image ads (the same, but with one photo), video ads (a single video up to 2:20), and carousel ads (up to six images and videos that users swipe through horizontally). You can also pay to promote a Moment or live video.
Businesses willing to spend more can even list their account as a recommended follow in the ‘who to follow’ suggestions, get a branded hashtag, or buy a spot alongside the trends under ‘what’s happening’, but these features cost more than most are willing to spend.
For businesses still working out social media marketing, Twitter is a good platform to advertise on because there’s no minimum spend. Like most platforms, it runs an auction, so you won’t be getting tonnes of traffic for low prices, but it’s a great way to get started. Through the Ad Manager, you can set automatic bids and a daily limit.
The cost of your campaign comes down to the action you want people seeing the tweet to take. It’s a ‘per action’ model – you pay per click, view, like, follow, etc. – and you only pay for actions that people take. In other words, you won’t be charged for impressions if you’ve said you want website traffic.
As with any tweet, keeping it short and sweet gets the best results. A clear CTA is also key. Twitter recommends using a mix of formats and creating separate campaigns for mobile and desktop to maximise impact.
Learning from other businesses that are smashing their B2B Twitter efforts is a quick way to get inspired. Here are some of the best B2B Twitter accounts, in our humble opinion, and what they’re doing so right.
The professional services business maintains an impressive following by posting all sorts of content. No two tweets are the same: from native video tweets highlighting record revenue to image tweets about charity initiatives, Deloitte manages to be both informative and compelling.
Part of what makes Deloitte a great B2B Twitter example is that it feels very human. The company uses a focus on its people to remain grounded and authentic despite a global headcount of over 400,000. It also encourages employee advocacy – employees posting content from their own company accounts to promote the brand.
This multi-sector giant succeeds on Twitter by promoting innovation and technology to their audience rather than directly pushing sales of specific products.
The account often highlights breakthroughs and promising research, demonstrating a commitment to technology, acting as a useful resource for people trying to stay up to date.
Another effective tactic that GE employs is using light-hearted animated GIFs and brief video clips as part of an employee social media takeover initiative. The account also makes an active effort to engage with its followers by asking trivia questions and posting attractive infographics.
Creative software company Adobe uses Twitter to engage with its audience of fans, using a plentiful variety of message post types, including many that incorporate innovative use of video.
Adobe’s tone stays true to the brand’s persona — witty, funny, and creative. Whether it’s a tweet celebrating an event like World Interaction Design Day, celebrating an artist’s work, or sharing thought leadership on the future of the creative industry, the company keeps its Twitter page relevant.
One of Adobe’s most successful uses of Twitter is posting useful resources for the type of people who use its products. Short videos explaining how to use a tool in Photoshop or links to a downloadable guide to Lightroom are a great application of the ‘useful resources’ approach we outlined earlier. They even keep things light by posting occasional memes and other relatable content.
Dun & Bradstreet
US-based data and analytics firm D&B uses images, documents, video and other digital assets to keep people coming back for more. A recent tweet used video to explore the firm’s data and analytics initiatives, while another announced an upcoming webinar focused on turning data into return on investment (ROI).
Being such a fast-moving platform, Twitter is a great way to promote events. In this tweet, D&B thanks attendees at a recent company event. Why post about something that has already happened? Well, this tweet may well get boosted by attendees or the event partners, and it gives future event attendees an idea of what they can expect.
The firm is also a winner when it comes to tone: it makes good use of the characters available to get the point across in a down-to-earth yet professional tone. It’s a great B2B Twitter example that shows that “professional” doesn’t have to mean “boring”.
Tech titan Intel uses Twitter to engage both B2B and B2C customers. The brand manages to have fun and take part in online jokes while maintaining its strong reputation – there’s a lot to learn from their product marketing approach.
Intel makes great use of Twitter Polls to engage people and get a sense of what followers care about. The company also uses hashtags effectively, launching new ones to accompany each product launch and campaigns. Virtually all their posts have one relevant hashtag that allows them to increase engagements, appear in Trends, and boost product awareness.
Intel also goes back and forth with other businesses on all sorts of topics – both serious and light-hearted. When computer manufacturer NZXT asked followers what mouse they used, for example, Intel was ready with a cute GIF.
Another great B2B Twitter example is tech company Cisco. Their account adds personality to their brand by elevating the voices of employees and offering insights about developments in their field.
Another reason that Cisco is one of the best B2B Twitter accounts to follow for inspiration is that it combines formats effectively. This tweet – sharing career advice from the company’s vice president – includes several hashtags, links to two other accounts, a link to a blog, and a video with audio. That’s really making the most of what can be included in such a small space. The videos they use to generate interest are usually 10-15 second, ultra-specific snippets. They may have a longer version on the website, but they know that Twitter users rarely stay in one place for long.
The company also produces plenty of visual content to create engagement and drive traffic to the website and content – you’ll almost always find a link to a blog in many of the brand’s tweets.
Bring in the experts
It’s not easy to use social media to drive business results – that’s why lots of businesses choose to bring in the experts.
As a B2B social media agency, our team is equipped to help your business create a social presence that meets your objectives and your budget. Whether it’s a strategy your team can execute themselves, B2B Twitter content production, an advertising programme designed to drive prospects through the sales funnel or complete page/profile management on an ongoing basis, we can help!