Can You Segment Your Twitter Followers and What Value Does That Bring?


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The matrix below was first posted on Social Media Today and was create by Ogilvy (an ad agency) for IBM. Although the original post was called [url=http://]”Have You Considered Segmenting Your Social Media Strategy?”[/url], the matrix primarily speaks to how you can use Twitter and, secondarily, who you will be speaking to.

One of the commenters to this post asked how you go about segmenting your followers. I believe that Twitter is a good prospecting tool, so I gave the question some though thought and wrote the following:

Customer Relations:

Your customers can be searched by name, but you may have problems knowing if the John Brown that you found is your customer – or not find your John Brown because he is JayBrown on Twitter. However, you can still do pretty well with a [url=]Twitter People search[/url]. The other approach is to actively promote your Twitter presence through other means so that your customers proactively follow you.

Potential customers can be promoted to via your website and other outreach mechanisms. You can also find them by doing searches on content and geography (if location is important). Content and geography associated with user accounts can be done through various Twitter search tools. You can also search directly on Twitter using your product / company name to see if people are tweeting about you – or search on your product category to determine who is interested in what you are promoting. Also try putting a hashtag (#) in front of your product category to see if there is are people who are regularly tweeting about your product category. For example, #CRM is being used for people who are interested in CRM software.

Crisis Management:

Crisis Management is usually an infrequent event. You should have found many of the people you need to follow when you implemented your Customer Relations and Corporate Reputation Management programs. In a crisis, you will want to tweet to customers, potential customers, industry leaders, news media people and interest groups. You could do a search on your company name the day that a crisis breaks and quickly try to follow those people, but it will be tough to implement something like that when you have a big crisis on your hands. You should focus on tweeting to your followers, DM’ing (Direct Messaging) those that have a lot of followers or who seem particularly negative, and re-tweeting people who are supporters.

Corporate Reputation Management:

Industry leaders can often be identified through blogs, conference speakers’ lists, authors, etc. and then found on Twitter through a People search. The area of “news media” is a little broad, but editors, columnists, etc. who cover your industry can be best identified offline – then found though Twitter’s People search. The same is true for industry / interest groups. Also remember that influential bloggers, not just the mainstream media, should be found and their Twitter accounts identified.

Event Coverage:

Just like with any product promotion, everyone should be tweeted about upcoming events. However, you can go a step further and ask for Twitter account names when someone shows interest in an event or actually signs up. Then, create a Twitter account just for that event and have these people follow your Twitter event account. Also, have every event description or online registration form have a “Tweet this” button, making it easy for people to share their enthusiasm.

Product Promotion & Sales:

Again, tweet to the customer and potential customers that you are following (and who are now following you) about product promotions and sales. However, if you have a direct sales force, encourage your sales reps to have their own Twitter accounts and follow their own customers and prospects. A personal tweet helps keep the human element alive and the follower might even DM (Direct Message) the sales reps asking for more information.

Issue Advocacy:

Issue Advocacy is really the not-for-profit version of promotion, sales, and support. However, some organizations are both looking for money from donors and looking for volunteers (think Big Brothers / Big Sisters ). They need money to keep the organizations going and volunteers to deliver their services, but the donors and the volunteers are different people.

Catherine Sherwood
Catherine Sherwood is a consultant specializing in social media, strategic marketing and common-sense search engine optimization. Her insights and expertise are backed by 20+ years of business experience at the senior executive level.


  1. Enjoyed reading your post Catherine, definitely agree that Twitter can and should be used for all of those activities to generate buzz and deal with any potential CRM issues that come up.

    One form of segmentation that we’ve been asked by a lot of our clients is to sort customers by friend counts (either on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc). Follower counts on Twitter, especially, is be used by a lot of companies as a rough proxy for “influence” — the more people a user is connected with, the bigger the audience they have at their disposal for word of mouth marketing, product/event launches, etc. A lot of companies are doing general Twitter posts but are also becoming increasingly sophisticated and proactive in engaging these high-follower count influencers.

    Also, not just friend counts but understanding customer demographics along with it can help provide a better overall snapshot of your customers (esp. the biggest spenders, biggest advocates, and other valuable customers).

    Enjoyed the read,
    Michael Hsu
    michael at

  2. Michael:

    Thanks for the comments. I checked out your products on I especially like the functionality that lets you take email addresses and find the influencers among your customer base. As a social media consultant that believes that an assessment of a company’s “Social Ecosystem” is a critical step to building a strategy, your tool really resonates. Most of the social media analytics tools helps you find where brands or topics are being discussed and who the influential bloggers are, but they don’t help you find your most important customers.

    Good product. If you want to get the word out to others, look into presenting at Social Media Tools Week. It is a week long, series of presentations from practitioners (like myself) and social media tools providers. You can call them (Axel Schultze or Marita Roebkes) directly about getting a presenters slot. (BTW, CustomerThink is a sponsor)

  3. Twitter segmentation is something that we started toying around with over a year ago, and we built it into an enterprise application into which we’d already built segmentation for Facebook, MSN Live and RSS.
    Essentially, the enterprise builds groups and users subscribe to those groups and receive DMs through Twitter.
    Customers have the choice of how to interact with the enterprise and what information they receive, and it’s discreet. The enterprise has all the tracking analytics and can cross-sell on their generated action URL.
    We think this solves many of the problems you’ve outlined in your post.
    You can see a demo on YouTube here:


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