Reality Check on Twitter

Twitter is everywhere right now. It’s in the news; it’s all over the blogosphere; it’s the latest celebrity toy. I know I’m a big fan of it, and I certainly write about it a lot.

On the flip side, despite exponential grown in recent months, only a tiny proportion of people use Twitter. Yet every day I see more and more “experts” whose experience is limited to getting Twitter followers. So, here’s a bit of a reality check on Twitter.

Twitter is not:

  • Essential to every company’s success, or right for every company;
  • Mandatory for every company out there (remember PR 101? Audience targeting?);
  • The first thing you should do online;
  • Going to turn around your bad business model;
  • Going to fix your shoddy product;
  • A silver bullet for your customer service issues;
  • Used or read by the majority (just ~6 million in total… consider there are 300+ over 500 million (thanks Tamera) people in North America alone);
  • A replacement for other communications/social media tactics (think AND, not OR);
  • A staple requirement in every communications strategy;
  • The same thing to everyone.

It’s a tool. For some it’s an critical tool. For some it’s a useful tool. For some it’s the wrong tool.

Think carefully before getting involved. Think even more carefully before taking generic advice and applying it to your unique business.

Plan your activities strategically. If Twitter, or blogging, or other online tools are right for you then great. Listen, engage or develop your own places. If particular tools aren’t right for your business, don’t use them. Just remember: don’t let fear drive that decision – let your target customers.

</rant>

  • Colby Gergen

    When I tried to explain Twitter and business to my 50 yr old mom (after explaining to her personal uses) , who is a cook, she tried to relay it back to me like this, “so it’s like orange zest? it’s a fantastic compliment for some dishes and improves them but would make other dishes taste terrible”

    I really didn’t know how to respond because I think she hit it head on with almost no technological background. Kind of goes to show how simple Twitter is when you break it down.

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  • Well said as usual, Dave.

    I’m constantly amazed that people think assembling followers is the first step towards a good twitter brand strategy. Just how big an audience do you want as you go through the growing pains of learning how to use a new tool?

    No point in having 10,000 followers if all they do is see you bollocks it up.

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  • Great post! I definitely agree. As someone who is fairly new to social media and still feeling my way around, I have to agree that Twitter has it’s usefulness, but it isn’t for everyone. I think people are attracted to new, shiny things. Once that wears off, you can properly assess how it’s working for you.

  • Well said. People jump on the “authority” of everyone else too often. Often times the bandwagon is a fail wagon. Use what will work for you.

  • Dave —

    I am so glad you offered up this . Especially since there seems to be sooo much focus on your follower base in Twitterland. Even today, Guy Kawasaki’s blogged about how to “get retweeted” and even went as far as to say that “the best measure of someone’s quality as a Twitter user is not the number of followers but the amount of retweets.” I think this is the wrong metric.

    I recently blogged about what creates celebrity status in the social media ecosystem. I think it adds a nice parallel conversation to your entry. I’d love your feedback on that post — http://www.davidkinard.com.

    Cheers,

    — David Kinard

  • A journalist I know (who wrote about the medium) said, you have to sort out the noise from the news. Twitter is not really facebook though some might try to use it in this way. At the moment, because it’s all new to me, I’m new to it, I’m all round the newbie (here in T.O) I am a perpetual follower – which means I need it to work for me and supply me with information and insight that will help me advance my goals (linked to making myself more valuable as an employee). So I choose who I follow based on this criteria. In essense I use Twitter like I do RSS feeds. As a result this has become a learning and awareness tool and eventually I hope it will become an outreach one in a truly professional sense. There is a lot of discussion on how SM tools need to start becoming more targetted/siloed. Until then it’s your job as a use to self-target.

    That is not to say that I won’t on occasion add to the noise and sometimes I like to think to the news…all random but in the best possible taste!! I hope!!

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