“So, what have you been up to?”
“Did you catch ‘The Office’ last night?”
“How’s your daughter doing in school?”
Important communications? Not necessarily. Quantifiable results? Not likely. But worthless for business? I’m not ready to go there yet.
Because, like cocktail party chatter, even if tweeting doesn’t lead to the next big sale or the next big job, it’s another opportunity to grow relationships with your customer and prospect base. It’s an opportunity to show that you’re a stand-up guy (or gal, or company). And it’s an opportunity to pass on timely information that’s potentially important to your audience.
Do I care what you had for dinner? No. But do I care about an innovative marketing campaign you ran across? Absolutely.
Do I have time to review your 140-character sales pitch? No. But will I take a break to read a joke or watch a funny YouTube video? Maybe.
Do I have time to interview every customer? No, but would scanning a search of recent posts give me insight into their perspective? Quite likely.
It’s that give-and-take and the immediacy of social media that sets it apart from other channels.
As creative director of a direct response agency, I’m constantly looking for promotions that deliver measurable results. Twitter isn’t one of those — yet. Like cocktail party chatter, 99 percent of it won’t make any difference, at least that I can measure. But that 1 percent can make a difference, and odds are that percentage will only grow in time.
And because few of us would turn down an opportunity to chat with a hot prospect, few companies can afford to ignore Twitter. As a result, more and more companies are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, even if they’re not sure why.
The way I see it, there are three errors you can make in Twitterland.
Error 1: Ignoring it
Companies that can entertain, educate and strengthen relationships with their audience will reap the rewards of tweeting. It’s a relatively inexpensive opportunity to communicate with your fan base. And even if you’re not taking advantage of it, there’s high likelihood that your competitors are.
Just remember that every communication with your clients isn’t just an opportunity to build the brand, but to tear it down as well, so make sure you’re tweets reflect your true values.
Error 2: Confusing tweeting with marketing
Most tweets are not marketing (at least not yet). They’re socializing. And while Twitter might strengthen your relationships with your customers and prospects, it’s not going to close the sale. If your offer is weak, your product is subpar, your creative doesn’t stand out and your message is mistargeted, no amount of socializing is going to make up for those mistakes.
That having been said, what Twitter can do well is inform your marketing strategy. What do customers want in the next generation of products? What is your competition’s greatest weakness? What exactly do people want from you? The answers to these questions can be priceless.
Error 3: Rushing to judgment
Twitter continues to evolve. Tools are being added every day. And companies are getting smarter about how they use it.
For example, airlines and travel-related companies have used Twitter to find their competitors’ unhappy customers and to lay the groundwork to convert them.
One of our clients, Snagajob.com, will be tweeting up-to-the-minute schedule information at an upcoming tradeshow. Other companies are tweeting updates about products in development or news that affects their client base.
Bloggers are using Twitter to tease blog posts and drive traffic to more in-depth articles.
As of late, companies who have used Twitter like a traditional marketing channel haven’t had much success. But even that seems to be changing.
One thing is for sure, Twitter is maturing at a phenomenal rate. It seems like just last month that Twitter was packed with useless personal updates. That quickly gave way to sharing articles and interesting facts. Now it’s become a critical vehicle to disseminate time-sensitive information, as in the Iranian election coverage.
As the cocktail conversation continues to evolve from chatter to more and more useful information, so will the ability to measure, and ultimately quantify, the results for businesses.
Will Twitter play an important role for business in the future? Probably. I’m just not sure what that role is yet.
In the meantime, don’t be a wallflower. Pull up a chair and join the conversation.
John Lindner is a creative director at 93 Octane.
[…] credit, he quickly got a Twitter account @akbizsense (103 followers as of this post), offered up a guest column spot to 93 Octane’s John Lindner on the importance of Twitter, and dispatched reporter David Larter to write a series of articles […]
I forgot to mention, if you’re interested in following me, I tweet from my company’s account http://twitter.com/93_octane