Is Twitter for everybody?

This is the question that eventually gets asked by every person and every company trying Twitter for the first time.  In the height of your initial frustrations, you may be wondering … is Twitter really for me?

Most social media hype-masters will tell you “yes.”   Indeed, there is probably some business use or benefit you could discover for everyone and every organization.

But after working with hundreds of students and professionals across diverse businesses, I’ve come to realize the answer is no — it’s not for everyone.

Here’s an example. One of my customers is a brilliant management consultant. An engineer by training, he does not come by marketing instinct naturally and asked me to help.

This is a customer who would be perfect for Twitter:

  • Small business-owner
  • Enormous, global market potential (needs a lot of awareness)
  • Small marketing budget
  • Selling differentiated personal services
  • No time to blog, develop extensive content, etc.
  • Tech-savvy
  • Is a charming, bright person with engaging personality.

And yet he WILL NOT TWEET.  I coaxed, cajoled, and threatened him. I’ve trained him patiently and even prescribed a daily Twitter regimen.  I demonstrated the power of the platform when I found him a potential new business contact on the very first day of our operation.  He didn’t follow-up and seems content with his tweet-free existence.

This may seem strange, but it isn’t uncommon.  I’ve found similar resistance from many people who can obviously benefit from this business tool. I asked my client ”why” and here is his answer:

“I’m not sure why really.  I guess the idle chatter (which is mostly what I seem to see when I log on)  just doesn’t make any sense to me.  There’s obviously some self-imposed barrier that I can’t or just don’t want to cross.  You were kind enough to introduce me to Twitter, and I appreciated that.  There’s the old expression about leading a horse to water.  Guess I’m just not that thirsty for Twitter water… at least yet.”

The Twitter Quitter

This type of reaction is not unusual. In fact I was a Twitter Quitter myself and had to really push through a few weeks of this non-intuitive communication platform before I started to understand it.

What is the difference between a Twitter-lover and hater?  Does success on Twitter lend itself to a certain personality type?  Some say it favors out-going people, yet introverts are quick to say that they love the platform as way to connect on their own terms and build quality relationships slowly. Maybe it has something to do with patience.  Perhaps it is being creeped out by the crowds or by having strangers “follow you.”

Honestly, I haven’t figured it out, but I do acknowledge the fact that some very intelligent and wonderful people just don’t like Twitter even when they can see the benefits.

What About Organizations?

Is there a business case for Twitter for every organization and company?  Like nearly every business question, the answer is, “It depends!”

Medical professionals, lawyers, financial managers, and defense contractors may have severe regulatory limitations on the information they can discuss in public.  Remember, Twitter is a form of publishing.

When it comes to business communications strategy, it really gets down to this: What are your business objectives?  What do you need to say?  Where do your customers get their information?

If your customers are not engaging in this platform you’re going to waste a big wad of time on Twitter and get frustrated.

But I want to suggest two big HOWEVER’s before you decide your business is not cut out for Twitter.

HOWEVER, you may not really know where your customers are getting their information, even if you think you do!  People are piling on to the social web in record numbers and are also spending an enormous amount of time there. In an always-connected world, the role of social media in the business and personal world is blurring.

Better check those customers again!

I have a client who resisted Twitter because she insisted that her customers had no interest in it.  I conducted some customer research for her — completely unrelated to Twitter — and discovered that “social media” was the number one marketing and business issue for the majority of her customers!  By getting in front of the curve and mastering Twitter before her customers were immersed in it, she capture a leadership position and guide them, become a valued subject matter expert, and even create new business opportunities for her company.

Now for HOWEVER number two — However, there are MANY other business benefits to Twitter beyond simply getting sales leads.  Even if your customers aren’t there in force, it is still an incredibly powerful way to learn, connect with thought leaders, and identify new business opportunities.

I have seen an incredible diversity of organizations thrive on Twitter, from pizza joints to florists, from mega-brands to my handyman (who I found on Twitter).  Colleges, hospitals, non-profits, shipping companies, government agencies, and utilities have all realized business gains from a Twitter presence.

There are just so many way to define success, create wealth, discover benefits, and even have fun with Twitter.  Clearly there can be benefits for anyone if they have the fortitude to stick with it.

How do you handle the Twitter Quitters in your organization?  Is it a matter of time or are you hitting a wall too?

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Illustration: Hongkiat.com

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