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Should You Still Be Marketing on Twitter? – Brandon Cockrell
Social Agent

Twitter is in the news, but maybe not for the best of reasons. As a marketer, should you stick it out or jump ship? And whether on Twitter or an alternative, how do you build and engage your audience? Brandon Cockrell of Linchpin Sales Interactive shares that tactics that have worked for him and his clients.


Rich: My guest today has over 17 years of success in sales, marketing, and business development. Most of that experience was helping large companies and corporations maximize their revenue growth.

His decision to start his own business came from his drive to help businesses that truly need it. And more importantly, appreciate it. This led him to discovering the needs and problems that Lynchpin Sales Interactive now solves. He and his team are solely committed to one thing, doing whatever it takes to help their clients reach their goals and succeed at their business.

And today we’ll be talking about Twitter, and what your other options are, with Brandon Cockrell. Brandon, welcome to the podcast.

Brandon: What’s going on, Rich? Thanks for having me on.

Rich: Well, I’m just excited to dive into this. Obviously, a very timely topic right now. I think anybody who’s listening knows all the turmoil that’s going on at Twitter. And let’s just start with the big blue bird in the room, right? Should we stay on Twitter or abandon the platform? What are the pros and cons, and what are you telling your clients?

Brandon: Well, look, at the end of the day what we focus on is attention, and that is what drives and is what we look for whenever we make those decisions. Right? Obviously, there’s other things that you want to be considerate of. But for the most part, we’re looking at is the attention there? Are people utilizing the app? Are they staying on the app? And does it look like it’s moving in the right direction? And to be quite honest, Twitter does, in my opinion. I think that you’re seeing some growth, at least if those numbers are right. You’re seeing a lot of usage, a lot of interaction.

Obviously, there is the buzz around it, which you don’t know. I think everybody’s trying to sift through what’s reality and what’s not right now. And you saw some of the big players, some of the big companies, Apple I believe was one, Amazon I believe was one, they paused their advertising on Twitter for a time, but now they have already come bac. And I think they’re just making sure, as you probably would at any point in time, that somebody new comes in and takes over that you may just want to pump the brakes a little bit.

But I think they’re seeing what the results are and what the data’s showing, and that’s the attention is there. And I think the vision that Elon Musk brings to the table is very intriguing as well. As long as he is able to pull it off.  

Rich: I also wonder if there’s a difference between being on Twitter and creating or tweeting, creating content for the platform, versus being on Twitter advertising? I was just reading this morning that a number of brands, and these tend to be bigger brands, pulled their advertising in part because their ads were starting to show up on the pages and next to the tweets of, let’s just say, some very controversial people who have been allowed back on the platform. Do you think that sometimes makes a difference, whether it’s just you creating content on the platform versus you advertising on the platform?

Brandon: 100%. Obviously, you want to make sure that your placements are not being associated with things that you don’t want your brand associated with. And until you have the confidence that can happen, and that may be the case of why they paused that is because there have been a lot of changes. You know, you’re going to be a little skeptical and you’re going to be a little timid whenever it comes to investing a lot of money in that space until that gets corrected. I don’t think it’s something that’s going to continue to happen. I think that those things are legitimate concerns, and I believe that they’ve probably already been corrected. And that’s why you’re seeing some of these big companies coming back.

A hundred percent, you want to make sure you’re able to have some control over where your ads are going or where your content is being placed. And if you’re a little concerned about that, yeah, that’s going to cause you to pull back just a little bit because you don’t want to tarnish your brand. Even though you’re not trying to or doing that, just the visual of it can create more of an issue than anything else.  

Rich: The optics might be bad. And I also wonder if this is something that’s a bigger issue for bigger brands who already have a spotlight on them, versus small businesses or solopreneurs that probably are not going to get in the news because one of their ads shows up next to a controversial tweet.

Brandon: Correct. Yeah, I agree completely on that. The bigger brands, obviously they have a brand to protect, where the smaller businesses may still just be trying to grow that and build that brand. So, yeah. You know, they have to be a little more conscious of what’s happening and where those ad placements go and what they go beside, as opposed to a solopreneur or somebody who’s just getting off the ground. So yeah, you’re a hundred percent right on that.

Rich: And obviously if your company’s policy is to use Twitter as a communications tool or as a customer service tool, I would be very concerned about just abandoning that platform suddenly if people are used to talking to you there. So again, getting back to your point, it does come down to attention and putting a focus on where do you have that attention?

Brandon: 100%. Yeah. And obviously if it’s a big means for customer service and to interact and engage with your customers and clients, obviously you want to be cautious to it. But if that’s where they want to see your brand and interact with your brand, then you’re going to need to really find a way to make that happen. And if there are concerns there, address those concerns and hopefully the right things will be done.

Rich: So if one of your clients decided that either they wanted to leave Twitter, or to pause their activity, or they’re just not sure, what are some of the other alternatives that they might turn to if they still want to stay social?

Brandon: Well, it comes back to really what we’re trying to accomplish, what the end goal is, what industry they’re in. If they’re e-commerce or product or service related, there’s a lot that will come in. And really is it more engaging with their audience through visuals or more written content?

There’s a lot of different things that would come into play. Obviously from a business perspective, which is a large part of, if you’re looking at Twitter, it’s a great place to interact from a B2B perspective. LinkedIn is a good option there, which does still provide a lot of organic reach. But at the end of the day, there’s the common names that you hear from Google to YouTube to Instagram, Facebook, there’s still leaders out there.

Obviously, you’ve got some of the other players. Like even a Reddit, for example, could be something that you could look at getting into. And some of these other platforms that that are coming up now with a lot of new tech and all of that. So there’s a lot of options, but you’re still going to have those core platforms that I think are going to be your best place to start with at least.

Rich: Interesting. And you know, I don’t know if you’ve played around with Mastodon at all, which definitely has a look and feel similar to Twitter.

Brandon: Yeah, so I have not had a ton of experience in Mastodon. I am very familiar with it. That was one that ultimately could be looked at as an alternative to Twitter. And I do think that over time that is going to be a very popular platform for sure.

Rich: It’s interesting, I’ve played around with it. I certainly am not at the point where I would recommend for business purposes that anybody who’s not a social media guru or expert spend a lot of time there unless they just enjoy it. Especially because I don’t think that they’re taking any advertising. And I think there’s an anticapitalistic approach to their whole business model, and it’s not even really a business model.

So it’s just something to keep in mind. It may be a place to network, but it’s probably not a place really to market or sell your products, at least at this point.

Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, platforms that are coming up – and that’s how they start, right – and they’ll start obviously slowly getting into the advertising piece and all that, and maybe they won’t, who knows?

But that’s why you really have to understand what the strategy is. What are we trying to accomplish? Who are we trying to get in front of? How do we try to interact with them? And what does that look like to really understand what is going to be best. But at the end of the day, the name of the game is attention, right? And I talk about it all the time, that if people were hanging out in the middle of a cornfield, we would be cornfield marketers, right? Because that’s where the attention is. And so you really have to look at that and see these platforms may be good, but if the attention’s not there, how much effort, time, resources do you want to put into that if you’re just looking at solely trying to build your brand, build your business.

Rich: And I loved your comment about Reddit, because Reddit’s actually one of my favorite things to go to sleep to at night. You know, just check out different things that I’m interested in. But I do know sometimes when I pick up a new video game, that I will go there and there is a user, that basically is the development team from that game, where they’re interacting and building community with their game on Reddit. So whether that’s your play or something else, there are different platforms, sometimes not the main ones that people talk about. But again, if your audience is there, then go to the cornfield.

Brandon: 100%. And that’s what you got to analyze, right? If you’re trying to build that community, then that’s going to be a whole different approach than if we’re just trying to create brand awareness, promote new products, or promote a service. And there’s going to be different platforms that tailor towards that.

So you’re a hundred percent right. But there’s definitely a ton of alternatives if you’re looking to get off of Twitter, obviously. But you do want to know and have a plan of what am I looking to accomplish? What ultimately is going to help me get to where I want to go, and does it make sense to run paid campaigns or is it more of an organic play, building up to community and interacting that way and building that trust with your followers and with your audience.

Rich: You often talk about how we can show up with value, whatever the platform we’re on. So what are some of your recommendations around showing up with value, with purpose, whatever the platform happens to be.

Brandon: Well, I think obviously you want to stay in something that you’re passionate about or what you are actively doing with your business. I’m not going to get on here and talk with the audience or put out content that talks about bookkeeping, because I’m terrible at it and that’s not what I do. However, if we’re talking about sales, we’re talking about digital sales systems and automation and social media marketing and content creation that allows you to get your brand out there and speak and build up a community and get them to build, know, and trust you in order to want to do business with you. Then you know you’re going to want to provide value on stuff that is going to get your audience to where they want to go.

Obviously, a lot of people usually have the spot over here that they want to be, but they’re over here. And then you need to fill in the gap of how to get them over here and over here, if that makes sense. And obviously video is, I’m a huge proponent for video. The way I see it is, creating video content is your ability to prospect and sell online where people’s attention is. Because unfortunately we can’t jump in there right now, but video is that way. And that’s the way to build trust and build a relationship a lot faster and connect with people and expand your reach at scale. So very big on that.

But just creating content around frequently asked questions, what are people struggling with? What do you see people having the biggest issues with? If you do have clients or customers that you have coming in really documenting that journey and being able to talk about how you took them from where they were when they first approached you to where they are now, which is ultimately why they came to you, and being able to really lay that out. And that type of content should always speak to your audience and the people that you’re looking to obviously build a community around.

Rich: Your company is called Lynchpin Sales Interactive. And sales obviously being a big part of it. So a lot of people think, or a lot of people feel that social isn’t necessarily the place to sell. It’s the place to build awareness, build community. At what point do we try and either lure somebody off of social to get them to our website where we can do sales, or do you recommend that we actually start the sales process on social media? What do you generally recommend to your clients?

Brandon: So what we have seen, look, there’s no silver bullet to any of it, right? Obviously, you don’t want to just be out there sell, sell, sell, sell. You want to be able to connect with people on social and make them aware that you exist, and then put content out there that’s going to help them build a relationship with you, build trust, build credibility with you. Which is why I’m big on video. But obviously, audio is good. Written is good. There’s so many different ways that you can do it, but the ultimate goal, and you hit it spot on, is to get them off these platforms and into your database.

Because if you look, and I think it was McKenzie Consulting, a large consulting group if you’re familiar with them throughout the world. They did research not too long ago and they talked about, okay, what is the top channels that actually drive conversions, actually drive sales. And if you looked at it, obviously search. Organic search is the number one, which we can all agree I think is going to be number one. And we can understand why that’s number one. Because people are actively searching for that right then and there. At the very bottom, and it was basically flatlined at zero, was social media. And it was Facebook, Instagram, and all this.

But right there in second, well above social but not too far underneath search, was email. And that is where I think a lot of people, because the shiny object has been social media and always has been running these ads. And years ago you could put up an ad and it would get a lot of traction, and people would actually take advantage of the call to action on there. But what we have seen, and it works time and time again, especially if you’re in a local marketplace or you sell a product specifically. We’ve seen it work time and time again where we leverage social, where that attention is to make people aware that our partner exists or our company exists, and then we give them a compelling offer and incentive in exchange for their contact information. That contact information may just be an email address. Preferably you’d like to get a phone number and get them into our database. Your database is your biggest asset because that is what you can always take with you. That is if you ever want to exit. You have this database that you have been building month after month, year after year, of people who know and trust you if you’re at a local place.

These are people that are in your target market that you know fit the criteria of your ideal customer, and then you’re able to market to them through email, through text now, and even through chat and messenger platforms, that you can essentially market to them for free. And continue building that and nurturing them so that you stay top of mind and then it becomes a numbers game at that point, right?

If we know that 10% of your database converts off of every message that you send out, well, if you got a hundred people in there, then we know 10 of those people are actually going to buy something. Then if you build that to a thousand, we know a hundred people are actually going to buy some or schedule an appointment. And then all its focused on is building that database up. So that strategy of getting out there and finding cold audiences and getting them into your database, is where that secret sauce is to building short term success, but most importantly, long, consistent, predictable, profitable scaling.

Rich: So one technique might be to use the social for know and trust, but at some point, use a way of getting people to sign up for your email newsletter. Maybe by you’ve provided some valuable content over time, but for the deeper article or for the next step, or for the advanced class, you can download it here behind an email registration, whatever the case might be.

Brandon: For sure. Yeah. And it could be something as simple as, let’s say you’re a retail store or a restaurant or something along those lines. Hey, here’s a free appetizer. And you market that across social media or Google or YouTube or whatever your best platform. Facebook, Instagram usually works very well. TikTok is coming up and really making a difference. Pinterest, Next Door. There’s so many things from a local level too, but just, “Hey, here’s a free appetizer.” “Download this, and if you use it by X date, come in and use it by x date.”

Then obviously you can take advantage of it, and so they give you their contact information in exchange for that coupon or for that offer. Now you got them in your database. Now you can send them a follow up to remind them, don’t miss out. Then you get them in and that’s really all you’re trying to do. How do I get somebody from not knowing who I am to actually visiting my place of business or inquiring or wanting to learn more? And then you can do what you do best, which is serve them great food or provide them a great experience or provide them a great product. So, you know, that is ultimately what we look to accomplish in a lot of scenarios.

That doesn’t mean that conversions don’t happen on social as well, you know? You obviously want to be omnipresent out there and obviously putting messages out that speak to your audience, and then utilizing retargeting and remarketing just for the touch points. And they’re very inexpensive touch points for the most part, so that everywhere they go, they’re seeing your brand in a different light. So you want to have different content out there that helps build that relationship. And then ultimately you can, what we refer to as the ‘bottom of the funnel’, you can ask for the sale directly on there after they’ve seen a lot of your content after they have been viewing that content, interacting and engaging with that content.

I do think it’s okay to go a little bit more direct and ask for that sale or ask for that call to action to actually happen at that point. And we’ve seen a lot of success on that as well, especially with eCommerce brands.

Rich: Awesome. Brandon, this has definitely been helpful. And if people are looking for help with their social or their sales, where can we send them if they want to talk?

Brandon: So you can go to our website, linchpinsales.com. You can go to growyourbiznow.com especially if you’re a local business, e-commerce, or retail store. And that’s B I Z, growyourbiznow.com. Follow us on Instagram, connect with me on LinkedIn. All those places are great.

Rich: Excellent. And we’ll have those links in the show notes. Brandon, thank you so much for your time today. Really appreciate it.

Brandon: Thank you, Rich.

Show Notes: 

Brandon Cockrell has an impressive 17-year track record of propelling companies to greater heights through sales, marketing and business development. Looking to automate your sales? He can help with that, too! Be sure to connect with him on LinkedIn and mention you heard him on this podcast.

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.