Wikipedia has a plain definition of Twitter, but the reality of Twitter is just a quick and simple way to broadcast or scan for brief messages. Twitter is now valued at over $31 billion, in spite of relatively few users of less than 50 million U.S. users per month.
Like most social media, Twitter depends upon the ego of twitterers to freely share 140 character messages with or without photos. Then you follow those you admire, or simply find interesting. The premise is that the more you share, the greater the likelihood of attracting more followers.
For organizations, the business value of Twitter is the allure of inexpensively reaching more potential customers. The hook for Twitter is selling advertising, so promoted tweets are seen by more people. This paradox is the fascination and dilemma for business.
For the most part, your posts (called tweets) are simply fired out into cyberspace. If you happened to catch attention on Twitter search or trends, you might have a few people become followers. While your tweets are listed on follower pages, they may not be seen because of the flood of other followed tweets.
So businesses really have two choices: play the ego game constantly posting tweets and chasing followers, or leverage strategy around this communications medium. The ego game is exhausting. Only important figures, celebrities, and athletes can draw millions of followers. And don’t forget that no one really wants to hear about your organization or be sold on anything.
The 4 best Twitter business strategies are:
- Get in the game. When you’re missing in action, your competition is all potential customers notice. Take a few extra minutes and fully fill out the profile with a quality background, header, and photo image. Remember that the bio should answer some reason why others should consider you, and definitely not the typical brag of the leading or most qualified whatever. Also, consider that if you don’t currently have a Twitter account, the competition or anyone can poach your business name unless you have a trademark.
- Post well. Although the mantra is that you should tweet one or more times per day, it’s fine to only tweet every few days when you have something interesting or important to share. There are only 3 reasons a business should tweet: advisory on a real-time event, advice linking to a blog post or video, and helpful information from third-parties in your industry. By not playing the ego game, you are infinitely more interesting and trustworthy than self-promoting companies arrogantly touting the greatness of their offerings and mundane tasks.
- Publish the widget. By putting your Twitter feed on your home page or blog, you’re relevant and regularly changing. While the competition is static and silent, you can quickly update your customers real-time and allow them to follow you going forward. Speed of broadcasting is Twitter’s most valuable feature.
- Leverage lists. You don’t have to bare your soul on Twitter. By not posting ego tweets, you avoid the risk of potentially offensive public relations nightmares. In addition, creating private lists allows you to monitor your customers, competition, or any interest without displaying as followers. Lists for the news let you quickly keep current, while an industry list may just give you interesting content to share with your audience.
It’s still common to hear things like “Our company will never do Twitter” or “If you tweet, are you a twit?”. Billions of dollars later, this is the Twitter reality: stay on the sidelines and be forgotten, yammer senselessly about yourself or your organization, or take the business approach above.