Lets get real about this, to paraphrase Loren Feldman, "Twitter: people write stuff, people read stuff. That's it". There is no big social networking secret at work here. It's simply a communication tool and not even a very good one. It breaks down more often than my first car, which I only paid $240 for.

The truth is, twitter is for geeks. Actually, it's not even for geeks, it's for uber-geeks. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I use twitter myself and have at times been called a geek. But to someone who uses the Internet for business (gasp!) and to make money, Twitter is often just a distraction.

It's something for the ADD crowd to cook up and inject into their veins. There is nothing wrong with using these systems. But what are you online for? Chat, make friends, make love? All good stuff, but are you online to make money? It's important to get your priorities right. Is your market the uber geek? If so, dive in, Twitter is where your market is at.

But, if you own a small consulting firm or are the VP marketing for a medium-sized manufacturing firm, I doubt twitter is where your customer base will be hanging out. You need to identify and connect with your customers and potential customers, and Twitter is not usually the most efficient (or effective) way to do that.

Some have said it's a great tool to use for list building. But when you absolutely need to build a list and be able to communicate with your market, a third party system is not it. Email is far more effective and people do not have to sign up to a third party system to use email.

Unless your customers already have a Twitter account, forget it. If your customer base already uses Twitter, you may have already read numerous blog posts praising the system and are using it to your advantage. If so, that's great.  That is not what this post is about.

This post is not an anti-Twitter post, it's not even a pro-Twitter post. It's a "Do that which makes sense for your business" post, a reminder that there are black holes out there which will suck all your precious time from you and not give you much (if any) return.

To get real benefit from Twitter you need to build a following.  Those who  already have over a thousand followers can send a digg request or a "hey, check out this post", and get a great response. But here's the thing, that following has been built up over months or years, with hours worth of expended effort. People simply follow/fan/friend the same people whatever system they are in. The person being followed simply says, "check out this new system", and they all go join and add the same people to their list.

Building a following from scratch simply using Twitter is possibly not the best use of your time. A following on Twitter should be viewed as a by-product of success elsewhere. This only makes sense if your business is with the natural inhabitants of this system. You need to be able to connect with your customer base by giving them the least amount of hoops to jump  through. Even RSS. How many normal people use an RSS reader? I live and die by RSS, but I am not  normal. I live life on the cutting edging of Web 2.0.

Twitter is fantastic if you have a market which already uses the system. But ask yourself, do you need to reach out to that market?

If you think using Twitter is free, you are insane. As a business person, you already realize that your time is money, so when you spend an hour on Twitter learning what people had for lunch, you are paying for that. When you think about it, you can apply that to everything. Even reading this post is going to cost you money, I just hope I can make it profitable for you.

Twitter is addictive. Real people are using it to communicate, and that can be fun. If you are online to have fun, fine and dandy. But, if it's profit you are after, you need to judge accordingly.

Still not convinced? Still want to walk the soft sands and hoped you wont get sucked in?  Then, by all means, Twitter away. 

The above article was written in collaboration with Lyndon Antcliff , a social media marketing expert.  Thanks, Lyndon! 

 

By the way, you can follow me on Twitter if you'd like, and I promise not to tell you what I had for lunch. And regardless, I still think you should reserve your brand name or company name on Twitter even if you don't plan to use it, just in case.  -Dharmesh

 

 

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Originally published Jun 12, 2008 12:47:00 PM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

Twitter Marketing