Twitter’s SMB Leader Russ Laraway: Go Organic, Then Amplify With Ads


In case you missed it … Twitter Ads turned 1 last week. What’s that? You didn’t see the birthday reminder on Facebook?

We kid.

But seriously, in recognition of the first anniversary of Twitter giving all advertisers access to the Twitter Ads platform, we caught up with Russ Laraway, the head of Twitter’s small and medium business team, to talk about how SMBs can use Twitter to help meet business goals.

Laraway’s team (@TwitterSmallBiz) is building a strong curriculum of online guides to help marketers get started — or get better — at reaching customers with Twitter.

And the first lesson is always get good at Twitter first, Laraway said. Build a good profile, develop a content strategy that shoots for an 80%-20% balance between informational and promotional messages, create a editorial calendar, start tweeting and listen carefully to see what’s resonating with the audience.


No Fear

“You can get an awful lot of business value by using Twitter organically,” Laraway said, pointing to a third-party study, commissioned by Twitter, that found that 40% of users said they follow brands to learn about new products and 39% to show support for small businesses.

“It’s interesting because a lot of times, small businesses are a little nervous about getting on Twitter because they are worried that they are going to get a lot of negative response,” Laraway said. “But for small business specifically the users are saying, ‘we actually kind of want to show you support.’ ”

More importantly, they are more likely to show support with their money. According to another third-party study, Laraway said, users who follow a small business on Twitter are 73% more likely to refer it to a friend or patronize the business by making a purchase or visiting a store.

Use Ads To Amplify

To boost organic results, Twitter offers a variety of advertising options. Marketers can target users by interest, by gender, by geographical location or by membership in a particular television audience. They can target followers who are lookalikes of followers of competitors. They can also target keywords in Timeline and Twitter search.

“Imagine you are a travel website and you want to get involved in the conversation for people who are talking about I need a vacation,” Laraway said. “That conversation’s happening on Twitter all the time.”


Digital marketing consultant Ryan Deiss had great success using interest and keyword targeting and Twitter’s lead generation product, which with one click from a user, captures his or her email for the advertiser. Deiss said the Twitter campaigns produced lower cost-per-click and cost-per-lead rates than other marketing channels, returning a ROI of up to 300%.

“Twitter has figured out how to strike a balance between what their advertisers want, and what their users want,” Deiss said. “Advertisers get a lead with accurate data, and the users get to take advantage of an offer without feeling tricked, and without it interrupting their experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if other in-feed ad networks adopt a similar model.”

Laraway pointed to several more Twitter advertising success stories:

  • Managerial intelligence company @tenXer, which generated 350% more software downloads with Twitter than any other marketing platform
  • Marketing software company @BuzzStream, which saw the most content downloads from Twitter compared to other channels, at the lowest cost per download

“The Ads products are extremely valuable, extremely efficient,” Laraway said. “They will help you get scale. But just get good at Twitter first, then you will be better at using the Ad products when you do.”

And, as Twitter’s self-service ad products enter their second year, Laraway and his team are standing by to help small businesses with their campaigns, organic and otherwise. They’ve got you covered, from Laraway’s appearance at the World’s Largest Webinar (#WLW14) last month, to online resources like the #MktgKickstart guide and next week’s live stream of the national Small Business Week kickoff event at Twitter HQ:

“We put out a lot of educational content,” Laraway said, “an awful lot.”

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Top News | Twitter | Twitter: Advertising


About The Author: is Third Door Media's Social Media Correspondent, reporting on the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor. Follow Martin on Twitter (@MartinBeck), Facebook and/or Google+.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+

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