It would take a lot more than 280 characters to cover all the ways selling on Twitter is different from selling on Facebook or Instagram.
The “blue bird” has long been a dark horse among social media marketing channels.
While brands like @Wendys have famously managed to make it work for awareness, PR, and community building, Twitter was mostly built for conversations, not conversions.
That’s no longer the case, with new social commerce features that take the friction out of selling your products on Twitter.
Whether you have a Twitter following you want to monetize with a product, or you think your product’s target audience is on Twitter, here’s how to turn Twitter into a sales channel by harnessing its unique strengths.
Why sell on Twitter?
With 436 million monthly active users, Twitter’s user base on the surface pales in comparison to TikTok or Facebook, both of which exceed a billion.
Yet Twitter’s influence on culture and politics can’t be ignored when screenshots of tweets circulate on Reddit and Instagram, and world leaders, journalists, investors, founders, and industry thought leaders use the platform to share ideas, connect with others, and engage in discourse.
It may have fewer users and less shopping intent than social giant Instagram, but in exchange, you can:
- Easily find and build communities among your customers. Twitter is a true social network. You can start and join conversations freely with other people and brands.
- Run advanced searches for relevant conversations and users. Twitter arguably has the most robust built-in search features for social listening among social media channels. You can easily filter your search by factors such as keyword, location, even the amount of engagement a tweet gets to find the most relevant people to engage with.
- Compete with personality. Twitter is one of the few social media sites that focuses less on content creation, such as photos and videos, and more on personality and voice. Charisma, expertise, generosity, or a sense of humor can take you far on Twitter.
- Post more frequently. Twitter moves at a faster pace than other social networks. While a post a day is considered enough on Instagram, two to 10 or more times a day is normal on Twitter.
- Newsjack trends and memes while they’re hot. Because it takes less than 280 characters to post on Twitter, you can respond in real time to big events like the Super Bowl or a big conference in your industry.
- Be where brands are loved. 70% of people surveyed by Twitter said they enjoy engaging with brands—that “brand Twitter” is one of the best parts of Twitter.
- Network into partnerships and press. Many journalists, business owners, and celebrities of all sizes use Twitter, and it’s not hard for you to potentially catch their attention by engaging them with a public tweet or a private direct message.
In fact, it’s for these reasons you’ll find Shopify is very active on Twitter 😉.
(•_•)— Shopify (@Shopify) July 13, 2022
<) )╯ every time
\( (> i hear
<) )╯ "cha-ching"
What can you sell on Twitter?
You can sell almost anything on Twitter that you’d be able to sell on other social media channels, including:
- Your own products, like watches or hot sauces
- Digital products, like courses or downloadable templates
- Professional services, like design or accounting
- Affiliate products, through services like ClickBank or ShareASale
- Other people’s products, through dropshipping or print on demand
Or some combination of all of the above—as long as you can build a community around your Twitter presence.
A better question is: What tends to sell well on Twitter?
Productivity, wellness, humor/memes, technology, and business are popular niches given Twitter’s big focus on sharing ideas, laughs, and self-improvement tips and journeys.
Visualize Value, a community-driven business started by former advertising industry creative Jack Butcher, is a masterclass in making money on Twitter, with a diversified offering of physical products, digital templates, courses, and consulting services. Butcher uses the platform to bridge the gap between his personal brand and his business to help knowledge workers divorce their time from their money.
Amanda Goetz, who owns House of Wise, a luxury CBD and wellness brand, is also active on Twitter and has even used the platform to get her products in the hands of tennis superstar Serena Williams.
WholesomeMemes amasses over a million followers on Twitter by taking popular memes and giving them a wholesome spin. Now the account has an online apparel store with a portion of profits going to charity.
How to sell on Twitter by playing to its strengths
- Set up your Twitter profile to convert attention into action.
- Make your Twitter profile shoppable.
- Find potential customers using Twitter’s powerful search features.
- Build Twitter Lists of potential customers and the people who influence them.
- Run Twitter ads for your products.
Effectively monetizing Twitter as a sales channel means setting up your profile to convert profile visitors into sales, driving attention to your profile, and nurturing relationships between yourself and members of your community.
Let’s break down some of the actions you can take to start making sales on Twitter.
1. Set up your Twitter profile to convert attention into action
Marketing on Twitter requires regular monitoring and manual work. You can’t just tweet and hope the algorithm serves your post to the right audience. You’ll be spending most of your time going to where the right conversations are.
You can get the most out of that effort, however, by optimizing your profile to make every profile visit count.
Nail these 5 key elements of your Twitter profile to amplify the impact of the rest of the tactics in this guide:
- Cover photo. Feature your brand or product prominently to make the first impression you want (recommended dimensions are 1500 pixels by 500 pixels)
- Bio. Describe exactly what you’re about and what you sell, in 160 characters or less. Be clear and make it easy for profile visitors to decide if they should follow you or not. You can mention other accounts in your bio, such as your personal Twitter handle, or feature additional links besides the one in your URL.
- URL. Promote a link on your profile—to your website, a specific page, or LinkPop curating your highest priority links and products.
- Shop Spotlight. Use the Shop Spotlight (covered in the next section) to directly showcase up to five products in a carousel.
- Pinned tweet. By default, your last tweet will appear first on your profile. But you can tap the “…” on any of your tweets and then choose “Pin to profile” to feature the tweet. Make a great first impression with a shoutout from a customer, a new product drop, an announcement, or a sample of your best tweet to convince people you’re worth following.
2. Make your Twitter profile shoppable
If you have a compatible online store, Twitter Shopping can help put your products front and center for profile visitors by using the mobile app in one of two ways:
- Twitter Shop. A “Shop now” button visitors can tap to display up to 50 products.
- Shop Spotlight. A carousel embedded on your profile that shows off up to five select products.
Luckily, if you’re using Shopify, it’s as simple as installing the Twitter sales channel and syncing your products.
In order to use the Twitter sales channel at this time, you must be based in the US, sell physical products, and switch your account to a free Twitter Professional Account. If you meet those requirements, all you have to do is:
- Install the Twitter sales channel from the Shopify app store.
- Create your first Product Set and add products to it.
- Choose how you want to display your products: as a Shop Spotlight carousel or a more extensive Twitter Shop.
- Publish it to your Twitter profile.
From there, you can manage the products you want to feature from within Shopify.
3. Find potential customers using Twitter’s powerful search features
The search bar is one of the most underrated features on Twitter.
A common mistake brands will make on Twitter—and why so many write it off—is taking a broadcast-only approach to the platform.
Almost 50% of Twitter users are lurkers who tweet less than five times a month, but the ones who participate on Twitter share their thoughts and updates … kind of flippantly. It’s considered a “micro-blogging” site after all.
That’s great for brands, since Twitter has tools that few other social media sites have for monitoring the conversations that matter most to you, making it easy to engage with tweets that mention:
- Your product category
- Problems you can solve
- Complaints about your your competitors (or your own products)
- Requests for product recommendations
- An industry event
- A specific location
Twitter’s advanced search lets you include or exclude specific keywords, user accounts, hashtags, and time frames.
Let’s say I sell hot sauce. All I have to do is run a search for “best hot sauce” to find tweets from users I can follow or engage with. Better yet, if the tweet is fresh and still gaining traction, I can leave a clever or helpful reply that may earn a customer, a follower, or profile visits.
This can be a manual and time-consuming process, but depending on what you sell and who your target customer is, you may consider investing in a social listening tool to monitor multiple conversations at once or hiring a community manager to own the strategy to grow your Twitter following and engage with prospective customers.
Just remember: The key to effective social selling is to focus on being helpful, funny, or generous—to provide value—and let your profile do the actual selling for the most part.
4. Build Twitter Lists of potential customers and the people who influence them
Lists are another underused Twitter feature.
With Lists, you can create curated feeds of tweets from a select group of users. This might not seem all that helpful for selling products until you realize it allows you to create lists based on your best customers, competitors, prospective customers, potential influencers and affiliates, or brands you want to become friends with.
If I’m selling a product in the productivity niche, let’s say templates I built for the project management software Notion, I might create a private Twitter List that lets me monitor key productivity experts who regularly tweet about Notion.
I can then retweet or reply to their tweets and participate in their communities, hopefully attracting a few people to my own.
If there’s a specific person you know your customers follow, you can even turn on post notifications on the mobile app by hitting the bell icon after following them, to get notified whenever they tweet.
5. Run Twitter ads for your products
Like all social media channels, Twitter has its own advertising platform you can use to pay to reach customers.
What works on other platforms may not work here though, as Twitter ads are typically viewed as better for brand building than direct response conversion campaigns.
If you plan on experimenting with Twitter ads, it may be better to focus on campaign objectives that generate awareness, followers, or engagement instead of direct conversions. You can then let your optimized profile do the converting for people who visit it or follow but aren’t ready to buy yet.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your Twitter ads:
- Use a visual that grabs the eye right away. Text layered onto an image or video can have that effect.
- Don’t create unnecessary distractions with hashtags and mentions. Even though Twitter arguably invented the hashtag, it’s rare that you actually need to use them on Twitter (unless you want to collect a specific conversation under a specific hashtag).
- Communicate what matters before the click. Instead of focusing on getting the viewer to click through to learn more, tell them everything they need to know upfront by being intentional about how you use the limited real estate of your ad.
- Get creative with how you generate engagement. Focus on what people on Twitter are likely to react to, such as a joke, a meme, exciting news, supporting a cause, complaining about a problem, or entering a contest.
This Twitter ad from Apple promoting the launch of its new MacBook Air is clearly focused on awareness first, with all essential details upfront, from feature set to price. Twitter moves fast, so you need to communicate faster.
Opening up shop in the internet’s public square
If Reddit is the front page of the internet, Twitter is often considered its public square.
Treat it like Instagram and Facebook, where the focus is on scaling reach and sales, and you won’t find much traction. But take it for what it is and you’ll have better luck selling your products.
Twitter is where conversations happen out in the open for anyone to jump in and participate. The best way to sell on Twitter is to participate as well, use your voice, and treat it like a big party where you can meet new people who might need your products too.