Twitter is touted by many as a great business tool, but if you're still grappling with the concept, you're not alone. When I first started using Twitter in earnest over 18 months ago, I was led down an emotional tailspin that looked something like this..
Over 65% of the Fortune 500 companies have an active Twitter account, so there's certainly demand from customers who choose to engage with brands using Twitter. In Australia, about 10% of our population uses Twitter. So it pays to incorporate Twitter as a social media tool in your business strategy, but I sometimes question the incremental value it returns for small business owners like us.
How much time can you afford to invest in it?
Giant corporations have marketing departments with dedicated resources to spend all day on social media channels. However, when small business owners to choose to invest in Twitter, it's putting even more strain on limited resources. For instance, I put aside at least a good hour each day on social media and Twitter inevitably falls to the bottom of my list of priorities. I don't think it's a matter of learning more about how to use it more effectively. I believe because the sheer scope, nature and design of Twitter is not designed specifically for business, it's difficult as a business owner to derive as much value from it.
How do you cut through the 'noise' on Twitter?
The goal with any social media is obviously to engage with customers. What I find though it's always an uphill battle to get noticed on Twitter. Sure, branding is important, but so is influence. One measure of influence is obviously to build a larger following, but ironically the more you follow, the more noise you need to cut out. Similarly, the more others follow, the more you'll need to fight to get noticed. Although I have only 700 followers currently, I find it virtually impossible as is to keep track and make meaningful connections with many of my followers. It does make it all that difficult to listen to our customers and build our brand effectively.
How do you keep track of what's relevant?
Twitter can also prove to be a good market research tool, but unfortunately, the more conversations there are, the more you need to track, the more hashtags you need, the harder it is to find threads of conversation. It's almost impossible to track when is who's tweeting what about a certain business topic that may interest you. Tweets are transient by nature, so unless I happen to see the relevant tweet whilst I'm on Twitter, I'll miss it altogether! I don't know about you but it often feels like waiting for an eclipse, doesn't it? :)
Don't get me wrong, we shouldn't discard Twitter at all. But as business owners, we owe it to ourselves to understand the real value Twitter brings, in exchange for how much time we spend on it. It's no different to our approach to all things social media.
In fact, despite these challenges, Twitter can be a great business tool provided you intent to invest in it. In my next blog, I'd like to share a few Twitter tips and tools that I have found helpful, so please watch out for it :)
In the mean time, what has been your experience with Twitter? I'd love to hear from you.
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