A starter guide to Twitter for online retail

By Lengow

Founded in 2006, Twitter has become the place for users to air all of their thoughts and hangups in, until recently, less than 140 characters. This might not seem at first like the most positive space for online retailers to market their brands.

However, every business you have ever heard of probably has a Twitter account. And there’s good reason for it. Twitter is one of the top 10 most used social media sites with 328 million active users worldwide and the ideal space to promote a business.

Here's a starter guide to Twitter for online retail.

Who uses Twitter?

When it comes to reach, Twitter can connect your online retail brand to a wide range of demographics, enabling you to pick and choose who you advertise to. 24% of online adults use Twitter. Millennials are most prevalent on the platform, with 36% of online 18-29 year olds using Twitter.

This figure does go down by generation: 23% for those aged 30-49, 21% for those aged 50-64 and 10% of the over-65 demographic, but there is still significant use from all age groups. What’s more, there is an almost even distribution of users in urban, suburban and rural environments, with 26%, 24% and 24% respectively. An important fact to note, though, is that out of all of the site’s users, 83% access Twitter from mobile.

Twitter’s history with online retail

Twitter launched its buy button in 2014 allowing users to buy products straight from Twitter. A brand could post a tweet about a product and all the user had to do was click on the buy button and enter their card information and shipping address. Once they had done this, Twitter would save the info for any future purchases.

Unfortunately, it was not a big success, and like Facebook’s own buy button,  the platform removed it in January of this year. However, although this first initiative was not the most successful venture, Twitter can still be incredibly useful for ecommerce brands in terms of reaching an audience and curating a loyal and involved fanbase.


First off, let’s talk about content. Your Twitter feed is the ideal place to sketch out how you want customers to see your brand. To do this, your feed needs to be a dynamic space that entices potential customers and keeps your already formed customer base interested in your brand. By posting behind the scenes photos of your team, you humanise your brand, showing the faces behind your consumers’ screens.

Furthermore, you can also show off your products in their best light through photos and videos of them in action. You can use the space to create an aesthetic that draws your customer in, and makes them want to be part of it. Make the customer want to follow you. Above all though, there needs to be engagement with said customer.

Customer engagement

The beauty of Twitter is that it allows anyone to engage with anyone else. Firstly, anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone. To gain a following you will have to start out by following people who are important to your brand; this could be anyone from potential customers, to influencers in the business, to the competition’s followers.

You will also need to keep your followers interested and incite new followers. This means you will need to tweet a lot. Note that the average lifespan of a tweet is 20 minutes, after that your tweet will be all but forgotten. So to combat that, you have to up the quantity. Tweeting more frequently increases your customers’ engagement.

What kind of engagement?

Twitter’s most basic features include the ‘retweet’ and ‘like’ buttons. These are pretty self-explanatory. The former allows the user to tweet your tweet on their feed, or allows you to tweet one of your customer’s tweets. The second enables the user to show that a certain post pleases them. Retweets are particularly important as they broaden your audience. For example, if a follower with 500 followers of their own retweets something you’ve tweeted, 500 more people will potentially see your tweet.

You can have even more direct contact with your followers as well. The ‘reply’ button allows your followers to reply to your tweets, engaging you in conversation and vice versa. This feature comes in particularly useful when you want to thank a customer for a tweet about you or even when addressing complaints. It allows you to show that you are a brand who takes any complaints seriously by replying quickly and solving whatever problem the customer has.

If you’re having a big promotion, creating a hashtag dedicated to it allows you and your customer to tweet about it and for all other users to see each of the tweets dedicated to the promotion. Hashtags enable users to search for a particular term and see all the tweets associated with it.


Twitter also allows you to be more casual than you would normally be in official business. You can start conversations with customers, ask them questions, or even create polls. This is a way of getting almost immediate feedback from your clients about more specific ideas considering you can actually engage with their answers.

A big way of attracting more followers, and hence customers, is to run fun competitions where a prize goes to one of your followers or to set up Twitter exclusive deals. However, there are ways to get through to more people than just your organic reach.

Increase visibility and awareness

Twitter allow you to launch several different types of campaigns to promote your company: you can increase your website traffic, grow your Twitter following, get more people talking about your business or even promote an app.

Increase website traffic:

You can create a website card that will send customers through to your website. It appears as a promoted tweet in their feed with a picture, context, and a direct request. You can even add conversion tracking to your campaign, so you know how many people have purchased an item or signed up from your campaign. MVMT Watches used website cards to promote sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and saw a 353% increase in sales.

Increase followers:

Whenever anyone logs into Twitter, they are given a list of suggested people to follow. Make sure your brand appears on that list by promoting your account. You are able to select who you aim your followers campaign at so you can target users who you think are most likely to buy from your site. Teman Nabati were able to gain over 10,000 followers from the followers campaign, 42% above their growth goal.    

Increase tweet engagements:

You are able to promote tweets to a far larger cohort than you would be able to do organically. The promoted tweets appear as regular tweets on a user’s feed, save for a ‘promoted’ label. This enables users who do not follow you to engage with your tweets and, hopefully, subsequently become a follower and a customer. iClothing in Ireland wanted to be more engaged with their fashion-forward customers so launched a tweet engagements campaign. They saw a 25% peak engagement rate because of this.

Promote an app:

As stated earlier, around 80% of users are on mobile, making Twitter the ideal place to promote an app. By creating an app card you are enabling users to open or download an app straight from their feeds. And just like any of the previous campaigns, you can target the users most likely to download your app. Tiendeo, a retail coupon app, used an app card to stimulate downloads. Following that, they saw a 30% lower cost-per-install as opposed to other marketing channels.

Track your performance

Twitter provides detailed analytics so you can see how well you are doing on the platform, including what tweets perform best, and why. There are four different areas where Twitter will show you your statistics: your account home, your tweet activity dashboard, your audience insights dashboard, and your campaign dashboard.

Account home:

This is where you will see the monthly overview of your Twitter activity. Keep up to date with how many tweets you have sent, how many people have visited your profile, and how many mentions you have received. You will also be able to see who your top follower is, that is, your follower with the most followers of their own. Your top mention will also be visible, the tweet that mentions you with the most impressions.

Tweet activity dashboard:

This is where you can get a more in depth look at your individual tweets. It will show the number of impressions, number of engagements, and your engagement rate. You will be able to see the exact number of engagements a certain tweet has had, including video views, link clicks;  retweets, replies, and more. You can see exactly what type of content encourages the most engagement and change your Twitter strategy to include more of it. 

Audience insights:

Here you can learn the most about your audience. This includes your follower growth, as well as their interests and demographics. See where the majority of your followers come from so you are better able to target your ad campaigns. Being able to see who your audience is enables you to tweet content best suited to them.

Campaign dashboard:

As the name suggests, this is where you can track your campaigns’ success. You will be able to see how many impressions your campaign has received, the results tied to your objectives, i.e. number of website visits, and the cost per result. You can tailor the statistics shown by choosing what kind of results you want to see, whether it is your objectives, your campaigns, your individual tweets or your targeting criteria.


Twitter can be invaluable to your online retail brand. By creating a space and an aesthetic that your audience is invested in, you increase your chance of sales. Furthermore, you can spread your reach and attract a bigger following through their different kinds of campaigns and promoted content, especially if your main targets are the younger generation. Twitter allows you to build bridges between your brand and your clients, and better reach and understand your audience making it perfect to increase your visibility.


By Lengow

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