I was consulting for a client this morning and it struck me that so many people just don’t get what Twitter is and how it can be used for businesses. So to save myself (and my clients) the time of going through it endless times a week I thought I’d just brain dump a few of Twitter’s good and bad points – plus how it can be used effectively by businesses.
OK – let see if I can get this out without waffling…
What is good about Twitter:
In a strangely voyeuristic way you can spy on conversations between very normal – and in some cases very abnormal – people. This is great for researching who is talking about a particular topic, where they are talking about it and what language (keywords) they are using. This is great for market insight
The last time I counted (not personally- courtesy of @mashable – http://mashable.com/2009/09/14/twitter-2009-stats/) there are nearly 18 million Twitter users – that’s a lot of people talking
- Ease of use
Although the web interface for Twitter is very simple there are other programs out there which allow you to tweet to a whole new level – the ones I personally use are TweetDeck on my PCs and UberTwitter on my Blackberry – TweetDeck particularly allows you to run multiple profiles and keep tracks of multiple searches/hash tags
Twitter is not just limited to its own website – Twitter content is often captured and displayed across thousand of other websites – just like an RSS feed. Coupled with this it is available via mobile so people can stay up to date with their lists wherever they are
What is not good about Twitter:
By this I mean the endless stream of useless, boring and regurgitated content pushed out by the masses and then re-tweeted by other people who have nothing better to say themselves (can you tell I have a bee in my bonnet about this?).
- Lack of Followers
Although a lot of people use the search facilities to find new content there’s nothing like having an adoring fan base of chief execs, marketing managers and celebrities – oh no – rephrase that – our accounts are nothing like having an adoring fan base of chief execs, marketing managers and celebrities! Often it seems like we only get spammers, get-rich-quickers and – ooh she looks pretty – oh, er quick… go back!
- Dead Air
You last tweet was over 3 days ago – “you’re soooo, like, last week”. It is very difficult to keep a continual presence of valuable or interesting content without it turning into noise.
So – why use it and how to get the most out of it:
Firstly: If you don’t have anything useful to say then don’t say anything – don’t worry about followers or even posting anything on Twitter. Use it for what it is best for – RESEARCH. Research keywords surrounding your product/service, find potential brand ambassadors, discover competitors or potential affiliate etc.
Secondly: Use it for brand/reputation management – get your brand Twitter handle before anyone else does – brand it and link it to your website. Then if possible you can use it as a customer relations/service tool – use it to engage one on one with your customers. This is also great for customer retention.
Thirdly: Use it to collaborate with affiliates, suppliers, clients etc in an open and collaborative manner – not only to build relations but this can also help with reputation management. Obviously not everyone can do this – depends on your industry.
Fourth: (I know I dropped the fourthly – it just sounds wrong) Use it to be Big Brother – enter your brand/product names into the search fields to monitor what is being said about you
Finally: share something good – promote content – give something away – add value – use Twitter for something worthwhile – give back a little.
One last thing I do recommend is to create multiple accounts to be used for different things. Create a generic brand profile, another which you can ask questions and follow people who you don’t particularly want to be seen to be following and then maybe another where you can promote you main brand without perhaps adhering to brand guidelines!
So there is it – my 5 minute rant on using Twitter – if you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear them – just comment below.