Is Twitter an Exhausting Waste of Time or Productive Business Tool?

Twitter is a frustrating mystery for many business owners.

People are being told to “be there” since it’s hard to ignore as an important part of an integrated online strategy. Your organic search engine results do get boosted having a presence on Twitter. But the constant following, tweeting, listening, retweeting and responding from a business perspective is exhausting and it’s next to impossible, unless you are a major brand with deep pockets, to tell if Twitter is “paying off”.
Consider this….

  • A market research study released January 2011 conducted by Bensimon Byrne concluded that 88% of Canadians never go on Twitter.
  • At a May 2010 conference of Twitter developers, they announced that Twitter had 105 million registered users (apparently the number is now 190M). But that no one knows for sure as Twitter does not disclose this information and it’s tough to create metrics when people and companies have multiple accounts.

So no one knows for sure how many people aren’t really on it?
No wonder business owners are skeptics. However, I think Twitter can pay off for your business. First, a quick Twitter definition:
Twitter was designed as an instant 140 character messaging system to tell people what you are doing “right now.” Its adoption grew rapidly because people could follow people and “listen in”, unlike one-to-one text messaging. But it wasn’t until celebrities jumped on the Twitter band wagon, that usage grew. There are people all over the world tweeting on topics ranging from government protests to Justin Bieber’s latest hair cut. While this information may seem trite, there is a way to apply it to your business strategy.
Assuming your most pressing issues as a business are:

  1. Sales
  2. Product/Service Delivery
  3. Growth
  4. Cash Flow

Twitter can help in these ways:
1. Finding a community
You can use Twitter to see if there are groups of people talking about a topic related to the problem your product or service solves. By seeing who is following whom and who is tweeting on specific keywords, you can quickly gage the popularity of a topic and see if your target customers are there.
2. Uncovering product or service innovation
I discovered on Twitter a huge community called “virtual assistants” who quickly followed me when I asked about how the service worked and if it would be right for my business. As a result, I determined there was a need among small business owners to have a Virtual Marketing Manager for their business, as opposed to a full time marketing manager they had to train and manage. So I started to build a product around this service which we now offer call VMM (Virtual Marketing Manager). I have Twitter to thank for this.
3. Finding followers
There is no other immediate feedback mechanism that I have seen of late that can be as useful a tool as having to explain what you do in 140 characters and immediately seeing if people are interested. Using Twitter to stake out your ground on a topic and create a following is an immediate gage of interest in what you sell or talk about. If all you can talk about is your product and no one follows, then I guess you have your answer.
4. Monetizing followers
If you get successful enough in building a trusted following, then there are moments when you have the chance to promote something or offer something you are selling. Danger: If you view Twitter as a lead generation tool, you will be disappointed. You have to learn it and earn it before you start shilling. And there is very fine art to this.
What is widely accepted, regardless of the actual number of people using Twitter, is that Twitter is the fastest growing social media network in the world with the communication and connectivity power to topple governments. (Google: Twitter and Tunisia) It’s more than a fad. It’s an integrated tool on many websites, personal profiles and business software tools. You can’t ignore it, so why not try to harness it for your business.

Bottom Line: Twitter can help you…

  • Generate links for your website and SEO strategy
  • Get content in front of people to test
  • Develop relationships in order to get customers and prospects to know, like and trust you
  • Do market research by listening

Are you in or are you out? If you’re in, Tweet this!

Marketing CoPilot