How Etsy Uses Twitter

As part of Twitter's new "How To Use Twitter For Business" service called Twitter 101, they've done a bunch of case studies.

I am very pleased to see that our portfolio company Etsy was one of the companies interviewed and was profiled in a case study.  

I've mentioned before on this blog that Etsy gets a significant amount of traffic from Twitter and has been since the start of this year.

A few months ago, @etsy became a suggested user on Twitter but that was not and has not been the real driving force in terms of inbound traffic.

I believe the real driving force is thousands of Etsy sellers using Twitter (and Facebook) to share their latest items for sale with friends and followers.

So it makes perfect sense for Etsy to use its Twitter account to highlight those sellers, retweet their posts, and cultivate and curate the Etsy community on Twitter.

If you are interested in how Etsy got hooked on Twitter, how they staff it, and what kinds of things they do with it, read the case. I think its got a bunch of 'best practices' in it that others can emulate.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Jonathan Deamer

    Etsy’s a great example of how the power of Twitter for companies is not necessarily through their own use of the service, but through their customers’ use of the service. It’s surprised me that eBay haven’t done more to get their sellers to tweet about their items – I know that’s been a good technique for me on a couple of occasions.

  2. Banet

    God bless Etsy for garnering the attention of Twitter but to use them as a business “case study” is misleading — only a few dozen companies have the advantage of being a “suggested user” — everyone else has to *work* to gain followers.You say:”A few months ago, @etsy became a suggested user on Twitter but that was not and has not been the real driving force in terms of inbound traffic.”If you look at:…You can look back at the very beginning of the graph and see how Etsy was adding a few hundred followers a day. Perfectly respectable, but still, we’re talking 200, maybe 400 a day. Since they joined Twitter in December 2007 (as it says in the case study) they averaged 1,750 net new followers a month.Then they were added to “suggested users” a few months ago and boom! They now net 5,000 to 10,000 new followers every DAY.Maybe you’re right — maybe the traffic isn’t coming from Etsy’s massive growing list of followers but from the thousands of craftspeople who talk up their Etsy storefronts — but without any evidence to the contrary that’s hard to imagine.Finally, if you are right, then wow — Etsy’s really squandering an opportunity. They have over half a million followers on Twitter. Why *aren’t* they using that audience to drive traffic and sales??Peter Steinberg@FLWBookshttp://www.FlashlightWorthy…Recommending books so good, they’ll keep you up past your bedtime. 😉

    1. fredwilson

      i can’t share etsy’s internal stats with this community, but if you plotted their followers and their incoming traffic from twitter on the same chart, you’d see that being on the suggested users list has not been that big of a deal in terms of incoming traffic. it helps, but its also clear from looking at those two data points that @etsy is not driving most of the traffic, their community is

      1. Banet

        Great to hear that the stats tell the story but I still say that while the community is driving a ton of traffic, Etsy is missing out on an opportunity. They have over a half MILLION followers. How often does a business have a mailing list of that size? Almost all of whom are newly subscribed and therefore listening pretty carefully?

        1. fredwilson

          The problem with the followers that come from the suggested user list is they are not listening as carefully as followers you earn. Many of them are the so called ‘twitter quitters’It’s not that I’m negative on the list. Its a big improvement from the new user experience before it came outBut a follower from the list is not equal to an earned follower

          1. Banet

            Completely agreed… which brings up a completely different discussion.You only get one chance to make a first impression. Twitter is growing by leaps and bounds and will succeed in some manner or another, but having so many people try the “suggested user list” and then become Twitter Quitters is a terrible first user experience. Luring those people back is not going to be easy.

  3. Aaron Klein

    The smartest thing Twitter did in this Business 101 page is have the search box there and invite you to search your company name. Any established company will probably find a few hits and realize they need to engage their customers this way. It shifts from “doing something new” to “catching up.”

  4. Adarsh Pallian

    Hi Fred – if you have a quick minute, please read through this: Social Shopping using Twitter ( – I think it would be a good fit for Etsy. Your thoughts are greatly valued and appreciated.

  5. Arvind Ashok

    It is very interesting to read about Etsy’s case study, and a couple of the others. I was looking to glean some insights on starting from zero and the closest I found there was NAKEDPizza. I think my problem/question is how to get started while launching a product.It seems pretty ‘duh!’ – if there arent any experts, become the expert. Talk about what people care. Talk to my target audience who do not know I exist – in my case, people taking the gmat while preparing by themselves. Hopefully there will be some more comments here that I can learn more from. Thanks again for a really helpful (pointer) article. Lets see how much/well I learn.

  6. Korf

    Thanks for the share, I can definitely say that I am more likely to visit products and purchase products that have been recommended by people I follow on twitter – and have done so a couple times in the recent past (a new motorcycle helmet and the BldBlog boook). Just as a friendly aside and as a big Fred Wilson fan, I wonder if this post should be accompanied by disclaimers on your affiliation with both companies – I always like it when top bloggers are super transparent about that stuff.

    1. fredwilson

      Good point. Although I did call out that etsy is a portfolio company in the post, I did not do that with twitter. I should have and it was a miss

  7. emilygoligoski

    I’m not surprised that @etsy has been a great gateway to their marketplace given the success of crafters on Twitter. @sublimestichin and @hellocraft are other entertaining channels:

  8. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Business is all about communication – and Twitter is a great communication tool.Most importantly, it enforces a concise message and linking – all in a discrete way – the implied obligation to visit a company’s web site as a destination/landing page has been removed.

  9. Morgan

    Great post – Twitter is definitely developing into an essential tool for businesses. My guess is that all the businesses that are yet to embrace Twitter will do so in some way in the next year. There’s a great blog dedicated Twitter – – they oftentimes blog about what an incredible impact Twitter is having on businesses all over the world. Etsy is another great example!

  10. Aaron Klein

    You have to appear very cool and culturally relevant to @biz, apparently. 🙂

  11. Aaron Klein

    I wonder if they played the Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love” over the phone when they rejected that.