Friday, December 18, 2009


Five signs you might NOT be ready for Twitter

Twitter's importance as a communication and customer/prospect engagement tool is getting hard to ignore.  Still, especially if you're considering Twitter as a corporate communications and marketing initiative, it's important to know why you're doing it - for what purpose, to reach what audience, and to what measurable effect for the organization.

Equally important is to consider why you might NOT want to focus on Twitter at present.  Below are five reasons why you might not want to spend time using Twitter as a component of your marketing mix (at least not yet):

Your customers aren't using it:  Twitter is hot, but it's not Facebook (at least not yet).  It's usage is still somewhat limited, and thus it's important to know your target customers well enough to determine if, in fact, they're using Twitter in enough volume & frequency for you to use it as a channel to engage and mobilize same audience.  There are several effective & free Twitter search tools to help you ballpark this quickly.

You aren't willing (or don't have time to) reciprocate:  Twitter works best when it's a two-way street.  For every link you tweet out, you're retweeting or responding to 2-3 other tweets already in "the stream."  Active engagement with the Twitter community is the best way to be accepted, build credibility, accelerate your influence and followers, and ultimately drive action from your target audience.  If you can't engage, you likely won't get the results you're seeking.

You only want to promote your business:  Yes, you're using Twitter in the first place to grow your business.  Drive new sales.  Engage new customers.  But the best way to do that isn't to always promote your own priorities, goods and services.  Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, and tweet about what they care about.  Most of the time, this will likely mean publishing content that others have written.  Or content you publish that's purely educational, and not at all about selling directly.  Once you establish that you're aggregating and feeding back a steady stream of valuable content that's audience-centric, those occasionally-integrated product and lead generation offers will be better received and generate a higher response.

Your interns are taking care of it:  It may sound like a good idea to let the ambitious, tech-savvy interns launch a Twitter presence for your business.  And while they're with you, if they understand your customer and publish the right content, they might give you a great head start with good early results (measured by followers and clickthroughs).  But a few months later when they head back to school, what do you have?  And who's going to manage it moving forward?  Unless you have a succession plan once the interns are gone, be careful you're not investing in a strategy that's going to be mothballed.  A dormant Twitter business account, which makes you look like you've abandoned your community of customers and prospects, might be worse than one that never got started to begin with.

You expect miracles:  It's not going to happen overnight.  There are tools that can help you accelerate Twitter followers quickly, but follower volume does not mean immediate credibility, influence and follow-on activity for your business.  If you're getting into Twitter for a quick hit, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.  Know that you're making an investment in a tool that will not only take some time to grow, but that will become a growing and increasingly important asset that feeds your business for a long time to come. 




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