The Foregone Conclusion of a Twitter Marketing Funnel: Like It or Not

Jeff Bullas charicature

Jeff Bullas charicature

I just got off Skype with a friend and client whose company absolutely defies any suggestion Twitter is a viable marketing tool. You read that correctly @briansolis. Believe it or not, there are millions or companies out there that would refuse and refute ANY channel preferred by clients, if a decision maker in the crew is adamantly enough against the channel.

And the reasons make so little difference. Are you with me now PR peeps? Here we go, a brotherhood of us preaching our best pulpit sermons, and….. silence… then…. “How many times will I need to tweet per day?” Well, after some of you finished laughing, it’s time to bring in the heavy guns I guess. The following influential experts reveal a truth no sane CEO would be advised to ignore. Regarless of whether or not Twitter crashes and burns, or is shotgunned by bird hunters while nesting tomorrow, channel value is value. As my partner chimed in during my early morning sermon, “Ask how they intend for their customers to find them. Through Google?”


Jeff Bullas is one of the world’s most influential and knowledgeable bloggers, authors, strategists and speakers on digital marketing and social media. He works with companies execs to help them optimize their online personal and company presence and brands. In a recent post on Jeff’s blog he talks about how marketers should (and do) engage via Twitter. And I quote from the most critical points:

“Publishing is now marketing and the mind share that content marketing has garnered reveals the power of social content and crowd sourced sharing.”

Marketers on Twitter

Courtesy Jeff Bullas

So in other words, if you publish at all, you have to be on Twitter. Almost all marketers are, as the chart above shows. Assuming those millions or marketers are not complete idiots wasting their time…


Editor of Simply Zesty, Quenton O’Reilly is one of the new and refreshing voices of marketing, social media, mobile and the Web a growing number of practitioners turn to for advice. Simply Zesty, simply does practice and preach what experts like Bullas and others have refined these years. As for Twitter? Let me direct you to “Why Twitter Will Nail Location Marketing Once & For All,” a recent  post which points to Twitter’s strongest value – being primarily a “mobile” tool. I emboldened the word for a reason.

“For one, Twitter is best suited to location due to it primarily being a mobile platform. More than 60% of users access it this way so the potential to introduce location or GPS capabilities is there. If you think about it, the majority of trending topics are location specific and the majority of people tweeting about them would be right there. So location specific hashtags and highlighting related hashtags automatically appearing makes a lot of sense.”

Now, if you need more direction along these lines, let me send you my Paypal or routing number. I am a consultant too.

Google Think Insights

I just got done telling our friend and client rep, “Don’t trust me, tell the boss to trust Google,” and here’s the straight dope on that. “The Customer Journey to Online Purchase” is about as worthy as the tablets Moses came down off the mountain (not Mountain View mind you) with. Love them or hate them, if anybody knows conversions it’s Google. This complex customer journey we always end up explaining can be broken down pretty simply actually. The customer journey as it applies to the buying experience revolves around:

Assisting channels – Build awareness, consideration, and magnify intent early in the customer purchase funnel. 

And the Last Interaction – Or the last point of contact for customers before the ultimate purchase action.

Brian Solis, in his breakthrough book “What’s the Future of Business,” correctly modifies this journey to include still more relevant “moments of truth” than those previously expressed. But for the purposes of this discourse, Google’s definitive studies should be enough, especially when statistics such as these persist:

  • 65% of all revenue derived comes from purchases that took more than one step to complete. In other words, these “assisting channels” almost always impact the bottom line.
  • Social channels including Twitter play major rolls in not only assisting last interactions, but in customer retention and ultimate moments of truth (UMOT)
  • Interestingly, where travel purchases are concerned, over 85 percent of all decisions are made on day 0. Further research is needed, but this may suggest Twitter and other fast mobile influences play a bigger role than once thought.
  • Previous understanding of how conversions were obtained are being turned upside down now. Once a single entity was typically credited with customer acquisition, Google and others have now identified more true paths to sales.

The video is one I used yesterday to point out mobile’s increasingly dominant position where sales are concerned. It is as good a primer as you’ll find to begin considering Twitter’s value in the marketing structures needed for business.


Forbes contributor Mark Fidelman wears a great many hats, all of them with an expert badge attached. I remember Mark best from Mindtouch, a startup I may have been the first ever to report on back when. But Mark’s mastery of sales reaches far far past early Web 2.0 startups. Mark is a recognized expert in creating sales and marketing machines and so forth, but he offers still more reasons Twitter’s value should not be underestimated in “Rethinking the Customer Journey in a Social World.” 

“The data itself is clear: Social media has become the world’s most popular online activity of all, and perhaps the top digital activity of any kind.”

Now with this in mind, Fidelman’s assertions many businesses simply do not know how to move forward with social media bears some fruit. However, horse and buggy dealerships that did not start selling cars probably went out of business over similar excuses. As Fidelman continues: “organizations that broadly embrace social perform substantially better than those that don’t.” The graphic below which I borrow from Mark’s story does a good job of encapsulating SM.

Courtesy Mark Fidelman and Forbes

Courtesy Mark Fidelman and Forbes

To sum up here, I literally could write a book on this sort of emerging sales and marketing paradigm. Sometimes clients and potential clients believe us to be some kind of “know it all” narcissists because we are passionate about helping them, and about the things we’ve spend years learning. But here’s the interesting thing, while I quote these great thinkers quite often, I arrived at this conclusions independently. This is true of many of our contemporaries too. I mention Brian Solis because of his expertness, and because I’ve known him a very long time. But Fidelman and others point to authors like:

Dion Hinchcliffe is Chief Strategy Officer of DachisGroup and Author of Social Business by Design

Muhammad Yunus – Nobel Prize winner and more recent author of  Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs

Charlene Li – Who is the Founder of Altimeter Group that Brian Solis  is the principal analyst for, and  the co-author of the bestseller “Groundswell”, author of the New York Times bestseller “Open Leadership.”

The list is quite endless, I assure you. Becoming a bit like those game show hosts from the 60’s and 70’s, the ones radio station owners said would never make it. Sorry, but arguing foregone conclusions takes its toll on us old analysts. I hope this bit of evidence was convincing, now excuse me while I tweet for effect on this.


  1. Chris Abraham says

    Successful Twitter marketing requireds way more than a couple-thousand followers to be effective. It needs the right people, sure, but it also needs everyone else.

    In Terms of the Cinema that is Twitter, you can have a private showing for just your hand-picked, tasteful, friends; you can have an art-house theatre that is popular amongst the discerning, or you can have a multiplex that opens in the morning and shows films until 2AM — in order for Twitter to work, you need to both fill a lot of seats and you need a lot of showings of the SAME MOVIE, over and over, where the movie represents a particular Twitter campaign and the size of the multiplex indicates the number of possible followers who could have seen your tweet. @GuyKawasaki does it right and I talk about the 12 things – tips that Guy gives to us happily that will help us penetrate the noise:

    And it’s not just noise, either, it’s the fact that only us Social Media nerds track Twitter like bankers track their Bloomberg displays all day on Wall Street.

    Most other people just pop on and pop off — and we need to get them exactly when they’re on because nobody scrolls too far back, especially when we’re mostly looking at our rivers of tweets on our wee iPhone and Android screens.

    • Phil Butler says


      As usual, you have the most unique and imminently “catch-able” ideas of digital prowess. As you say, not too many can or will devote the time necessary to BE in social media for business or real pleasure. Everybody wants a digital shortcut, the hacker mentality of “cheating”, as it were, lends itself to not only mediocrity, but to failure as well.

      I can think of 100 instances where someone asked my expert opinion, which I suppose is as expert as most anyone’s, almost every one of the people asking had already been inundated with incorrect perception. I so often retort when asked “how come you don’t have 100,000 followers?”, “I am not Brian Solis or Chris Abraham, for one thing?” To be sure, I am a “popper on and off” relatively, and this is a fantastic point you make Chris.

      Businesses have somehow become convinced they are in control. When you or Solis, or Brogan, even Kawasaki as you suggest, when experts speak of “experiences” – corporate and even SME CEO’s get that famous deer in the headlights look. As if their PR peeps had churned out way too much warm and fuzzy over the years. Very few are even open to experimental models for convergent methods.

      So what if Twitter gives way to some other social feature? I know you remember what we all learned initially from now “bygone” networks. Digg, Propeller, MyBlogLog, two hundred dead social networks gave way to refined ideas. But here’s the thing, nothing we have now is a regressed social invention.

      The stream modifiers you allude to ARE the next generation of communicative channels. The question is, “what stage will some businesses be at when the NEXT stage appears?” I bet your answer or any expert’s will be “behind, that’s where!”

      As always Chris, thanks for taking the time to share your unique insight here.



      • Chris Abraham says

        Tell those people, “I may not have 100,000 followers but I have the ears of @briansolis and @chrisabraham which means I have access to their followers, too, which is true power.

        • Phil Butler says

          Hey Chris. And therein resides Twitter’s value. I was hoping and praying you or somebody would say that. I think I have near 12,000 followers on Twitter, something like that. Not so so many. But in that 12,000 there is influence with millions. Factor in relevance, tweet the right story, and half a million people are in the loop. This is sometimes a daily occurrence.

          Then there is “force” to be considered. What if one Tweet to Chris Abraham, retweeted to a following, inspires an advocate, and the rest you know. Tweets lead to blog posts, newspaper stories, volunteer work, you name it. So, influence, this is what Twitter is all about.


  2. Frithjof says

    Thanks so much for this thorough article Phil!
    My clients are small business owners that fill many functions in their business. Often they don’t really understand why they have customers. This is mainly because too many advertising sales people have told them in the past it’s because of the ads they bought.
    Telling them now that they actually have to build a relationship with their clients is a long process.
    While I agree with your post 100% often the challenge is that my clients are NOT marketers but average citizens that happen to run a business.
    Thanks again for this great post!

    • Phil Butler says

      @ Frithjof.

      So well put! And we have to get busy creating streamlined and dependable tools for these business owners to use. And I do not mean the sensationalized ones that clearly DON’T HELP. As you also so aptly put it, building the relationship is the big rub here. But is it really that big?

      My contention to potential clients in need of social media assist is this: “Making social media part of your process is no more costly than training a desk clerk to welcome guests.” Even so, the ROI argument arises. And right here, I tell hoteliers in particular, “hotel managers and desk persons are in fact PR people themselves.” The problem is, so many fail to TRUST these new channels.

      But how can business fail to trust the ways in which their clients communicate? Holy Cow! I had a marketing genius the other day tell me he saw no reason for a corporate Twitter engagement. Talk about silos, some smart people out there live in Rapunzel castle towers.

      And thank you very much for your insightful, kind, and thoughtful time here.


      • Frithjof says

        Thank goodness for marketing geniuses! They leave clients with so much room for improvement :-)

  3. Jack Wallen says

    One of the issues I have found with Twitter is saturation. I use Twitter to market my novels (zombie and other horror fiction). I have, roughly 3500 followers, and follow around 2K. The problem is when I post to the followers, the Twitter stream is going by so quickly, they most often miss my tweets. Yes, this can be resolved using hashtags and groups — but I certainly cannot control how my followers use Twitter, so if they don’t use hastags or add users to groups, they will most likely miss my posts.

    The same issue plagues most other formats — Facebook and Pinterest, for example. The more followers a user has, the harder it is to gain any traction with your following.

    • Phil Butler says


      A very good point. This is one reason I did not adopt Twitter early on, the “business” I used to call it, was more than distracting. As you say, groups partially addresses the problem, but the only thing ensuring broad reach is counter sharing.


  4. Bryan Eisenberg says


    I completely understand their lack of inertia to the new social lifestyle. It is the same lack of inertia that has many people promising to lose weight but not making the change in lifestyle needed to get real results. Take it from someone who has been evangelizing the value of the online experience and the use of data since the mid 90s and someone who has also lost over 100 pounds.

    The process to change is not easy and has to go one step at a time. It is why we have seen all kinds of gimmicks and fads in weight loss and we have seen them in social media. It is a lifestyle choice. This is one of the reason I refer to the social media problem as a “Shake Weight” issue:


  5. Susan Scrupski says

    Hi Phil. Nice wrap-up. I’d move Muhammad Yunus out of your callout box, however. Not the same social business.

    • Phil Butler says

      @Susan, Thanks so much for stopping and taking the time. You know how appreciated time is, I hope. As for Yunus, there’s a reason he is here, to be revealed later.

      This thing we have all been involved in, by the time it’s said and done, will be an economics lesson even Yunus would be proud to analyze. His helping to develop promising concepts into sustainable socio-impactful business is really what we are looking at here.

      I just spoke with Brian Solis about this very issue, and another friend Chris Brogan just wrote about so-called “new cities of the web” built, not on physical boundaries, but by our connections and relationships. And there, at that confluent point, is where Yunus meets Mark Fidelman, Susan Scurpski, @chrisabraham ´, and a slew of us.

      At least this is my fantasy.


  6. Mark Fidelman (@markfidelman) says

    Wow, Phil you are too kind. All of the learnings that you point out below have been codified in my new startup called – I’d love to share more with you.

    But thanks again for the wonderfully kind words. You’ve highlighted a great group of folks and I am just honored to be one of them.

    • Phil Butler says

      @Mark, You are the one who is too kind. Aaron, you, Steve and the other people at Mindtouch rocked before stone was a natural occurrence on the web. It’s actually an honor to know so many very very smart people.

      An old guy once told me, “an intelligent man does not know everything, he just knows someone who does.” Bravo on your work Mark, I know Raynforest will be another great success.



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