Does Twitter drive traffic and sales?

Twitter logoTwitter has become a big topic in the marketing world. But is it driving traffic or generating sales?

I must admit that my experience with Twitter is limited. I’ve been testing it with a nonprofit political organization I help run in Ohio. The number of “followers” we have is fairly small at this point, but growing steadily.

Most of our “tweets” are actually generated by an automated tool to post our RSS feed, resulting in about 10 tweets a week. I and one other officer have been occasionally adding original tweets about important topics, events, or guests on our radio show. So there are maybe 15 to 20 tweets total every week.

We’ve been on Twitter for about 2 months, and it is starting to show up in our our site statistics as one of the top 20 drivers of link traffic. But it’s difficult to judge the true effectiveness of this new social medium on our donations, sales, newsletter signups, or support.

I realize that we’re not using Twitter to its fullest capability, but it seems to be worthwhile for the minimal effort we’re putting in. It’s easy to set up (maybe 10 minutes total). And publishing the feed takes no effort at all.

Many people say it’s effective, often claiming a 10% to 100% boost in traffic. Most just say it’s great or has great potential without sharing stats. Some say it’s a total waste of time.

So my question is, what is your experience with Twitter? Is it driving Web traffic? Are you seeing more sales? How are you using it? What works and what doesn’t? Has anyone else tried it with a nonprofit or political organization?

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Comments

7 Responses to “Does Twitter drive traffic and sales?”

  1. Phil Corbett on July 7th, 2009 11:14 am

    I have been using twitter, and other social media tools both personally and preofessionaly for some time now and these are common questions that you have raised.

    Is it driving traffic? Yes, quite a bit. It is also important to look at the clicks you are generating from link shortening services like bit.ly in addition to just looking at your traditional analytics (since these will show as direct traffic and not a referring source.)

    I use it (professionally) for multiple purposes (announcing events, webinars, articles, jobs, etc) in addition I use it to monitor conversations of relevance using tools like tweetdeck, this is a great way to use twitter for prospecting.

    You mentioned that most of your posts are automated with only occasional personal tweets, I would recommend to anyone using twitter in a professional setting to not do that – to gain a true following and have a real impact you have to be as authentic as possible and add time to your day to make social media as impactful as possible.

    I would not be concerned with follower numbers, having the most followers is not what is important – having the right followers is what matters. There are a lot of ways to game the system to inflate numbers, but in the end that is not what you want – you want ROI and that does not come from people with new interest in your message.

    I am using this in a corporate setting, but have a background in nonprofit marketing and feel that it can be just as relevant in that area- since nonprofits typically have smaller marketing budgets social media is a great equalizer in getting out your message.

  2. wbw_Jeff on July 7th, 2009 2:30 pm

    My impression is – not as much as you might think. Here is what I just did for some fun:

    Right now the top Twitter link on Backtweets.com is:

    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/google-apps-is-out-of-beta-yes-really.html

    You can see the aggregate bit.ly traffic at:

    http://bit.ly/info/3pYKad

    26,400 clicks as of 12:28PM PDT on July 7. Probably not all the Twitter traffic but certainly most of it. And a very big number by my standards but probably modest if it is one of the biggest things going right now.

  3. Jeff Hurt on July 23rd, 2009 8:56 am

    There are a lot of nonprofit organizations on Twitter and using it successfully. There’s an entire community built around the Twitter hashtag #assnchat (I know terrible abbreviation) that has discussions every Tuesday at 2 pm ET on Twitter about association and nonprofit challenges in social media.

    Here are a couple links to some great lists of nonprofit organizations on Twitter:
    Association Professionals On Twitter: http://www.associationsocialmedia.com/index.php?title=Association_Professionals_on_Twitter

    Associations On Twitter:
    http://www.associationsocialmedia.com/index.php?title=Category:Associations_Using_Social_Media

    Liz Strauss Blue Feather Group On Twitter:
    http://www.blogcatalog.com/search.frame.php?term=blue+feather+tweeters&id=ea1a4b9e20a6217798e733d79c1f8012

    Beth Kanter – @kanter and her blog is http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/
    Some of the best research and resources on how nonprofits can use social media.

    Reflections, Questions, & Answers How Charities Can Use Social Media #assnchat by @kanter http://ow.ly/hZkC

    We use twitter at my work, a nonprofit trade association, for several reasons. To engage with our members, to educate our members’ customers, to build relationships and drive traffic to our consumer website. Twitter has become the top source of driving traffic to our website and we’ve seen more than a 300% increase in traffic because of it. We’ve even recruited large dues-paying members and sponsors outside of the industry because of our Twitter outreach. We’ve also had stories picked up from media outlets across the U.S. because of the information we provide in Twitter. We send a lot of resources and links and try to be helpful. We are less promotional about our services and programs and more intentional at providing value.

    For me personally, I’ve seen an increase in traffic to my blog by nearly 800% because of Twitter.

    While we are still learning how to use Twitter effectively, I can say without a doubt, that it has added a new dimension in our membership, education, outreach, community and marketing efforts.

  4. Hollister Creative on July 27th, 2009 4:13 pm

    Generally, I think Twitter can be productive for some uses. Maintaining business relationships, expediting customer server, etc…

    Ultimately, one needs to go where the people are and I simply don’t think that Twitter has enough of a user base to justify spending significant resources using it. Currently there are 4.5 Million users which doesn’t seem like an awful lot with all the recent hype. Finally, the service does not currently generate any revenue and it seems risky to build a significant portion of one’s CRM system using a tool that could arguably go away quickly.

    Sorry to be a kill joy… but just some of my thoughts.

  5. Dean Rieck on July 27th, 2009 4:36 pm

    Hollister Creative:

    Killjoys run the world. That’s what dreamers call realists.

  6. Jeff Hurt on July 27th, 2009 5:15 pm

    Hollister Creative:

    Where did you get your stats of 4.5 million users on Twitter?

    According to Nielsen Wire, there were 21 million users in June 2009 making it the fourth most visited social member community, http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/social-media-stats-myspace-music-growing-twitters-big-move/

    Quantcast says Twitter had 26.5 million users in June 2009 and now has more than 27 million. According to Quantcast, it’s the 26th ranking website just under Walmart.com.
    http://www.quantcast.com/twitter.com

    I think you may be underestimating how many people are using it.

  7. Dean Rieck on July 27th, 2009 6:02 pm

    Jeff:

    Hollister Creative may have seen a stat about the number of US users:
    http://mashable.com/2009/04/28/twitter-active-users/

    But I think the point was that compared to something like Facebook, with 200 million users, it offers a smaller population.



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