Deep Understanding Of Your Audience Can Make Twitter Fly

By Cathy Applefeld Olson

If the thought of a farmer putting down his feedbag to check his Twitter account sounds intriguing, read on. Farm Journal and several other b2b publishers that scored significant gains in Twitter followers last month, are proof that paying attention to readers’ varied lifestyles can mean a big “harvest.”

In April, Farm Journal increased followers by 6.32%. Other significant b2b gainers were Access Intelligence’s (and min sister pub) PRNews, with nearly a 10.2% rise; Entrepreneur with a 6% jump; and Cygnus Business Media’s Firehouse, which added almost 587 followers for a 6.39% gain.

Farm Journal’s average Twitter users are over 40, according to social media editor Anna-Lisa Giannini. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in new technology. To facilitate the adoption of social media, Farm Journal Media recently started offering Twitter tutorials both online and onsite at live events. Editors also started heavily surveying readers about when, how, and why they use Twitter, and they have amended their strategy accordingly.

Farmers use twitter primarily as a newsfeed, Giannini explains, and a select one at that. “They might only follow five people or news sources, so the lifetime of a tweet is much longer than the average,” she says. They tend to rise and check in bright and early, so Farm Journal now averages four tweets before 7 a.m., a midday tweet and then a smattering at 7, 9, and 10 p.m.

Content-wise, 98% of tweets are links to a story. “It’s really hard to track, but I have a theory that the farmer who goes on Twitter is the same one who watches our television show, goes to our events and to our Web site,” she says. The key is using Twitter to facilitate cross-pollination. A recent success story: A tweet linked to an interactive online map that shows state-by-state planting trends. Of the 8,400 followers of the account, 940 clicked on the link, Giannini says.

On the other hand, Firefighters might find “down time” to check their Twitter feed literally any time of day, so Cygnus’ FirehouseNews twitter account is staffed around the clock. “It’s a 24/7 industry,” says editor Peter Matthews. “You could get career firefighters coming back from a call at 3 a.m., and they’re wide aware, so they hop on Facebook or Twitter.”

Matthews says although Firehouse uses Facebook to highlight just a few sections or stories from each day, every headline finds its way to Twitter to total about 25 tweets a day. He believes firefighters are checking in for news and names because the industry is inherently so tight-knit.

“There are 1.3 million-to-1.4 million in the industry, but when something happens in Montgomery County, Md., chances are someone from Contra Costa, Calif., trained with one of the men or women in the story,” Matthews says. “You can almost look at Twitter is the new Google, where people do searches right off the bat.”

Building on the communal nature of the fire service industry, Matthews during Q1 began encouraging the roster of firefighters, officers and others in the field who contribute to Firehouse to get their own Twitter account, retweet stories, and tweet about what they do for the publication.

min contributor Cathy Applefeld Olson is based in Northern Virginia. She also writes for our sister publication CableFAX Daily.

Inside B2b: Facebook Beats Twitter In Engagement For Firefighters

While charting the monthly Twitter followers for April, we decided to check out Facebook “likes” for the same top 16 b2b URLs. (with 9,187 Twitter followers) took the top spot with a burning 162,547 “likes” on its Facebook page. We asked editor Peter Matthews what sends the target audience of approximately 1 million firefighters (in the United States) to Facebook at the end of their trying day. Engagement is the answer, as much of the time they are “wired” when they get home and take to their phone or computer to check out what their colleagues are saying. Matthews postulates each of his Facebook posts with a “Who are you and where are you from?” question such as, “What was your most memorable call?” And the shared stories grow throughout the night. — Greer Jonas

B2B 4/26/2012 3/21/2012 % Gain More Followers Twitter URL
1 Women’s Wear Daily (CN Digital) 2,009,945 1,987,485 1.12 22,460
2 Inc./Mansueto Ventures 396,936 375,156 5.49 21,780!/Inc
3 Fast Company/Mansueto Ventures 474,220 454,734 4.11 19,486
4 Entrepreneur 143,883 135,197 6.04 8,686
5 PC World/IDG 112,143 107,560 4.09 4,583
6 PR News Online/Access Intelligence* 43,695 39,241 10.19 4,454!/PRNews
7 Adweek/Prometheus Global Media 59,450 57,864 2.67 1,586
8 Computerworld/IDG 38,544 37,093 3.76 1,451
9 CIO/IDG 31,321 30,163 3.70 1,158
10 Information Week/UBM Technology 29,810 28,826 3.30 984
11 Spectrum IEEE 19,286 18,573 3.70 713
12 Brandweek/Prometheus Global Media 25,845 25,137 2.74 708
13 NetworkWorld/IDG 19,347 18,659 3.56 688
14 Firehouse/Cygnus Business 9,187 8,600 6.39 587
15 Farm Journal 8,416 7,884 6.32 532
16 Officer/Cygnus Business 5,537 5,228 5.58 309
b2b Magazine/Parent Likes as of 4/26 Facebook URL
1 Firehouse/Cygnus Business 162,547
2 Entrepreneur 156,991
3 Women’s Wear Daily (CN Digital) 133,432
4 Inc./Mansueto Ventures 89,872
5 Fast Company/Mansueto Ventures 70,038
6 PC World/IDG 54,682
7 Spectrum IEEE 27,313
8 Adweek/Prometheus Global Media 26,501
9 Officer/Cygnus Business 18,499
10 Computerworld/IDG 13,834
11 PR News Online/Access Intelligence* 13,620
12 CIO/IDG 7,984
13 NetworkWorld/IDG 6,147
14 Brandweek/Prometheus Global Media 5,510
15 Farm Journal 5,246
16 Information Week/UBM Technology 4,266
Source: min data collected from Facebook sites; *PR News parent Access Intelligence, LLC (PR News is a sister publication of min).