Target SPECIFIC (/KNOWN) Individuals – Twitter’s (Unbelievable) Targeting Secret

Twitter's bird logo in blue and gold swarm a man's head introducing our post, Individuals Twitter Targeting Secret

There’s been quite a flap over Facebook data privacy lately. The political establishment’s fixation on Facebook is ironic to hardened marketers.  Whilst Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress last week, paparazzi snagged pictures of his printed session cheat sheet. Those prep notes suggested Facebook’s CEO was ready to throw other digital channels under the bus. Yep, it’s only a matter of time.

Certainly Google, LinkedIn, Equifax, Apple and many other players have experienced data gaffes of varying scale. When possible, marketers are ready to exploit such gaps to associate personal data with known individuals. Over the coming days we’ll highlight insiders’ marketing hacks, making it easy to target (gasp) specific persons without their email addresses or permission. Yes, really.

Twitter TargetingToday’s less ballyhooed, but extremely powerful, individual-targeting tactic exploits an under-utilized Twitter Tailored Audience source. Tailored Audiences are Twitter’s version of Facebook’s Custom Audiences. The technique to target individuals can be time consuming, but well worth the effort.  Simply construct a Tailored Audience using Twitter handles, no legally acquired emails necessary. For social media marketers, targeting individuals in this manner is perfectly acceptable, fitting elegantly within boundaries of privacy limits.

One catch is that Twitter requires a minimum of 1,000 @users to target individuals via their handles. No problem, we’re happy to find at least a thousand at a time. We’ll note here it’s notoriously difficult to run campaigns to small audiences (read: campaigns may barely get off the ground), so scrape away. Once you’ve gathered the list of Twitter handles, serve ads directly to these known individuals so they see your promoted (paid) tweets, potentially many times over.  Where can advertisers get uber-focused Twitter lists? Everywhere!

FIND Twitter handle sources, tools, and lists 

Curated Lists
Google is just itching to surface tantalizing Twitter lists. Just search “top <industry/vertical> twitter” – then scrape, rinse and repeat!

Twitter List of Chefs in Google SERPs

Social listening platforms like Sysomos MAP and other influencer-finding tools allow advertisers to find users who’ve tweeted certain keywords or have them in their bio (EG: search for everyone who says they’re “CMO” or “Marketing Director”) that advertisers can readily export by the thousands.

Promoting on podcasts or TV? Find the handles of the right podcasts or TV shows and log them. It’s quite likely these accounts will have lists of the teams involved, such as showrunners, editors, producers, and on-air talent. Grab those too. Get in front of their social community by scraping their follower lists into a tailored audience. Promote your offer in an actionable environment in which they can click to download, signup, buy, etc.

Enlist your brand’s community managers to track and log your brand advocates. But…Why? We mentioned these smaller audiences of heavy-hitting influencers or prospects can be hard to serve, so pad the list with your brand champions to boost engagement (read: excitement) on these promotions. Have associates monitor #TwitterChats (they’re not just for digital marketers!) and log users who are actively engaging, especially the perceived thought leaders of these chats.

Keep tabs on who’s tweeting about how crappy the competitors’ customer service or products are. Show ‘em your next ad. It’s less aggressive than reaching out to them in public.

Brand Influencers
Work with influencers? (Or want to?) Take the above steps noted for podcasts and TV, rinse and repeat. Install an on/off switch in your personal or company Twitter profile to target your own followers AND any list of individuals you care to create.

Top 100 lists
There are a bunch of sites like TwitterCounter that will list (free for the scraping) the top 100 accounts in industries and sub categories. Have at it! Don’t forget to dig into their Twitter lists too (more on that below).

Native Twitter Lists
Many brands, especially publishers like BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and more, use Twitter lists to keep track of their contributors, employees, and accounts they deem worth watching. Advertisers can find lists from editors to on-air talent to boots-on-the-ground journalists. Seeking to get your message in front of congress? Outlets like FoxNews or MSNBC have active lists of politicians on Twitter for you to scrape at will. As seen in the below example, it’s almost too easy to find a list of Twitter handles for the 2018 Team USA Olympians.

2018 U.S. Olympic Team Twitter Handles

Scrape the Olympian list to serve ads to Team USA. There are numerous reasons we might be interested in targeting America’s international athletes. They’re influential and well connected. We’ve provided other examples of scraped Twitter targeting in the spreadsheet below.

Scraped Twitter Handles targeting

Once you have a Twitter handle target list assembled, it’s easy as pie to import – just upload a csv file. BOOM! Remember, these are specific people, known, and we’re targeting them with ads person-to-person.

Build an Audience in Twitter

Targeting individuals with social ads seems innocent enough, but Twitter handle targeting can be extremely powerful. Think about who you can barrage with ads, from coworkers and industry pundits, to competitors’ employees, Inc. 5000 CEOs, politicians, rabble rousers, morning show hosts, NRA fanatics, and top twitter users who frequent Washington Post business content. Use common tools to filter Twitter lists by only the most engaged and influential.  Soften up leads with PREtargeting or goad adversaries into competitive engagement, beneficial to your brand.

Remember, it’s easy to build a dossier on targets to know tons more about each person targeted.  Cross reference against information in other channels such as LinkedIn and public Facebook data.

Keep video in mind as well. With impressions often costing pennies, use video in tandem to serve content directly to targeted individuals for powerful branding.

There is the potential Twitter will take handle list targeting away, given today’s hyperbole-laced media frenzy around social marketing. SO, build awareness of your brand to known individuals with handle targeting now, before Twitter snatches the capability away. Be aware of Twitter’s Terms of Service and check with legal counsel with any questions.

We’ll be back soon with the next installment of this series, revealing other methods to target known individuals with ads in other channels. Until then, Twitter-scrape AWAY!

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