Twitter is a micro blogging platform with a 280 character limit which allows you to follow people and to be followed. Unlike Facebook and other networks, this isn’t a mutual network. You could follow 100 people and be followed by 1,000 completely different people.
Through Twitter you can communicate, search, publish, network, promote and sell.
As social networking is so closely aligned with PR, the promotion and reputation management opportunities are the ones that people are generally picking up on first, however keyword-related search results are also an important feature. Twitter’s power as a “listening tool” is undoubted.
The in thing with the in crowd
Marketers always want to be in the middle of the trends and at the heart of the latest fashions, however it is important to bear in mind that fashions do change. A cautionary tale of a previous fashion: The Bay City Rollers were the heartthrobs of their day in the early 70s. Girls fainted with desire over their mullets, three-quarter length flares, built-up shoes and tartan trim. Was this collective insanity?
Twitter offers simplicity
The immediate appeal of Twitter to marketers is the simplicity, especially when compared to other channels, such as print publishing, email marketing etc.
It’s easy to get started – nothing more than a quick sign up and you can go ahead. It’s cheap (free in fact). It’s very quick to use. In theory it’s international as people all over the world are using Twitter in their own languages and the multitude of applications mean it’s easily customised to suit different personal and corporate needs.
Great yeah? Well, one of the major problems with using Twitter for content marketing is that its simplicity is deceptive and this can create all sorts of problems.
Just logging in and instantly tweeting whatever is on your mind can be dangerous. It’s very easy to make mistakes and the cliquey jargon is off-putting to new users.
It’s essential to put some time and thought into how and why you are using Twitter, so it’s not as quick to use as it initially seems.
The interface is all in English (at the moment) and the jargon is English-based (RT = retweet – barely makes sense in English, how does a new user in Romania, for example, get to grips with it).
As for the wealth of wonderful applications? There are 100s of them already. To get thoroughly on top of them, you could easily spend all day, every day researching…
Twitter offers speed of service
Using Twitter you have the opportunity to get your message out there FAST. No waiting for deadline dates, no editorial approval delays. Tweet your message and it’s out there immediately.
Twitter: News syndication
Despite being a little cynical at times about the overall benefits of Twitter, one thing about Twitter that really does get me excited (that isn’t a typo) is its use as a news aggregator. It really is excellent as an extra arm for any publisher – whether a major news outlet, or a little blogger like me.
RSS readers are like, so totally 2005 now…Twitter is really breathing new life into blogs and giving them new purpose.
Ultimately though, Twitter allows you to find out what people are saying about you.
Let’s not get carried away
All this is great; I say that without any sarcasm. So, if anyone out there is a marketer with their annual budget burning a hole in their pocket and I have inadvertently persuaded you to blow a large chunk on marketing through Twitter, please pause for a moment.
Twitter might move things along quickly, however it might not be the correct route to take.
Don’t abandon other tried-and-tested methods. For example, I am a strong advocate of email marketing – if you have a good, clean contact database, it makes sense to speak to these contacts, rather than send out broadcast messages to random people.
Networking opportunities on Twitter
You want to be in a network with the following people –
Prospects, clients, suppliers, influencers / experts, supporters. You’re also likely to be following entertainers and mentors.
There’s another use of Twitter as a company extranet. I know at least one company that uses Twitter this way and they strongly believe that it has improved communication, morale and general business intelligence.
Anyone who has used Twitter for sales some time will tell you that sadly a lot of people on there are not worth following, or being followed by.
You take a leap of faith when you network on Twitter. There are no requirements to use real names and no limitations on the number of accounts associated with an email address. Also, there are several applications that allow tweeting to be automated, making Twitter a real opportunity for spammers.
Investing in time to build up a quality network needs to be considered when starting a Twitter marketing campaign.