Is Twitter Worthwhile For Business Use?

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Out of all the major Social Media platforms, Twitter has perhaps unfairly come to be viewed as the most lightweight platform compared to the others such as Facebook, Youtube and LinkedIn.

Its many detractors point to the proliferation of apparently fake accounts, the fact that messages are restricted to a mere 140 characters, giving little room for messages of any substance and the way some Twitter users bombard their followers with endless “spam”, making no attempt to engage in genuine conversation and blasting out countless sales pitches with affiliate links hour after hour until shellshocked followers finally lose patience and cancel their “follow”.

Is it fair then to regard Twitter as nothing more than a worthless “spamfest”? In my experience this is too hasty a judgement. I’ve found Twitter to have a lot of benefits if used properly.

Firstly, it has often been a first point of contact with a potential future partner or customer. Apart from a few exempt categories, it is possible to follow just about anyone on Twitter. If they follow back, that could be the start of a more meaningful relationship. If nurtured properly this could then lead to connecting with them on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms of your choice and then ultimately a more direct relationship totally separate from social media such as by them becoming a subscriber to your “list” or membership site or even a Joint-Venture partner.

It should be straightforward to identify genuine Twitter accounts from the fakes and the spammers. Choose people with interests similar to your own. Send the occasional message (usually best done by using the @ mention option rather than direct messages as most users don’t have the time to identify genuine messages from spam) and retweet messages you like. You will often be thanked for it. Remember to thank others who retweet any of your own messages. In this way it is possible to cultivate mutually beneficial future relationships.

Tools exist to automate some of the more basic tasks, such as Hootsuite and Socialoomph, so that following people who follow you can be automated, as can a welcome message for new followers and sending tweets from more than one Twitter account. Hootsuite also has an excellent facility to enable users to schedule their tweets for a time of their choosing. This will save time, but be wary of moving too far from the personal touch. People will be turned off if they sense that a follower is basically a robot rather than a person – that defeats the whole definition of what social media should be about.

Although not easy, it is possible to sell to people via Twitter. The best advice is to do it sparingly, maybe sending out a sales message in between one in five and one in ten tweets and absolutely don’t keep trying to sell the same thing. Avoid making your tweets all about business all the time. Mix them up with some general chit chat topics. You can discuss non-confrontational current events or daily life topics with your followers. Don’t swamp followers accounts by sending out messages persistently, eg in batches of twenty or more in a few minutes. Yes, the tweets may get seen but it will only annoy followers, making them at best less likely to buy from you, but more probably lead them to stop following you.   Try to remember too that your followers will want time to read your tweet so space them out by at least a few minutes.

Aim to get people interested in your business by posting helpful guidance that they can use in their own business or information of a general nature that they might wish to keep for future reference, possibly when they might wish to consider using your services.

Don’t overlook some of the basics such as using a photograph of yourself or a business logo instead of the standard Twitter avatars. People need to know they are engaging with real people and businesses. Make sure too that your profile link to your website is working properly and not broken by an incorrect or outdated link.

Don’t overlook other great tools such as Twitcam. No sign-up is required, it’s 100% Free (its funded by ads), no software is required other than a webcam, it can handle up to 100,000+ viewers and you can share your broadcast on other social networks. It is an excellent and under-rated tool for connecting with people via live streaming video. It can be co-ordinated with tweets from your viewers so that a meaningful dialogue can be triggered.

Other great tools include Tweetcube, Twitpic and Twitturm, enabling you to share files, pictures and videos via Twitter. Other twitter tools are available to enable you to tweet via your mobile phone, enabling you to connect with your followers wherever you are.

These tools demonstrate how much you are missing out on by giving Twitter the cold shoulder. If you are still unconvinced, just remember that where Facebook limits users to 5,000 friends, Twitter allows unlimited numbers of followers. Some accounts have hundreds of thousands of followers and their users use Twitter brilliantly to project their profile advantageously.

Twitter therefore may not be for everyone but for me its’ merits considerably outweigh any shortcomings when used properly.

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