Is Twitter Useful, Or Just Something To Use?

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A friend of mine (who also happens to be a client) passed this article along to me this morning from CNN.com. It talks about Twitter’s “identity crisis,” whether the company thinks its 140-characters-or-less social platform is being used as they intended, and where Twitter might be going from here.

It’s actually a conversation my friend and I have had recently – at least as far as his business is concerned. Namely, is Twitter a good place for us to market his business? Is it useful, or is it just something we use?

I suggested my client add Twitter to his marketing strategy a few years ago because – like so many other businesses – everybody was on Twitter, and it was a free, easy-to-use platform to get your message out to millions of potential customers. Pretty enticing concept, huh? But if  you don’t convert any of those millions into customers, what are you gaining? And that’s what we’ve been asking each other recently: “Are we converting enough Twitter followers to make Tweeting worthwhile? For the time we spend building connections, following, and gaining followers, is Twitter actually useful to us as a business/marketing tool?” And the answer, we agreed, was no. So he’s gradually shifted his focus to LinkedIn, where he has a stronger, more engaged network of connections.

There are millions of people on Twitter.  Tens of millions.  A LOT of people are tweeting, and almost all of them are interested in somebody else besides you, something else besides your business message. Yes, you can focus, tailor, and concentrate your Twitter feed to include a small circle of higher-quality followers, so that your message does, in fact, end up being directed toward a more convertible group. But you’re all still adrift in the same ocean. It would be the equivalent of trying to hold a business meeting at a rock concert. There’s a lot of noise, a lot of distraction. I think that may be a key to Twitter’s “identity crisis.” There may just be too many things going on at once for anyone to be able to connect in a meaningful way. As a result, the tool itself becomes obsolete. Less useful.

I believe you should absolutely use social media for business.

But to make a social media campaign successful, you must use networks

where your next customers are ready to listen to your message.

Better to speak to a hundred people who are listening that a million who aren’t.  If you’re a restaurant who wants to attract foodies, start connecting on food blogs.  If you’re a local business, get on your city’s social networks, local blogs, etc.  Think smaller circles, and more focused attention.

And as you move ahead with your campaign, be sure to keep an eye on conversion. Are you getting customers, inquiries, and qualified leads from your social networks? If not, then it may be time to shift focus to another network.

If your social network is engaged, and the conversation is flowing, but you’re still having conversion problems, then it may be time to look at what you’re saying, instead of where you’re saying it.

More on that subject in an upcoming post.

At Slater’s Garage Ads & Audio, we help small businesses put a unique voice to their marketing through a combination of audio, video and social media. To find out how we can help you bring your marketing to life, contact us today.

5 Responses to Is Twitter Useful, Or Just Something To Use?

  1. Timely, crafted post Brett! I’m doing a presentation next week to a chamber group about using social media to grow your business and am offering the same good advice.

    • Thanks a lot, Dan… I agree. And it’s true, people ARE finding business success with Twitter. I’m not sure to what degree, but in my experience, it takes too much effort for too little return. I’ve had much better results connecting on a smaller scale. And maybe that’s a key: Use Twitter to find the connections, then strengthen and grow those connections “off site” on blogs, Google+ circles, etc…

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