When I speak at events, one of the most common questions I get from professionals is, “What is the purpose of Twitter.” Those of us who use Twitter know what the purpose of Twitter is and how to use it though. But for many, the concept of micro-blogging is still quite a mystery. Once you understand what to tweet, how to tweet and how much to tweet, you are quickly able to make excellent connections, increase your website statistics and search engine ranking, find some of your best brand advocates, and benefit quickly and efficiently from word of mouth marketing. In fact, next to YouTube, micro-blogging on Twitter is one of the quickest ways for information about you, your brand, your business, your products and your services to go viral.
Before one can feel comfortable on Twitter, they must first understand the purpose of Twitter, realize the potential of Twitter and learn how they can use Twitter to meet their overall marketing objectives. Following, I will discuss and demystify 5 of the top myths about Twitter use for business and give you pointers on how you can get the most out of your Twitter account.
1. There is No Real Purpose for Twitter
When people say this, the reality is, that they simply do not know what to do with Twitter or how to do it. No one expects or should expect to “make a sale” on Twitter. Twitter is not meant to be a Point of Sale. Rather it is a simple and effective way to grab the attention of your target audience. The goal for Twitter is to post content interesting them enough to your readers prompting them to want to learn more about you. When this happens, they friend/follow/connect with you, retweet your tweets if they feel it is something they would like to share with others and they will go to your website and start reading more about you, your company, your products and services.
2. The More You Post the Better
Ahhh, I can assure you, this is NOT the case. The most important thing with social media is to stay active and consistent. But that does not mean inundate your followers with TMI (too much information). I have at least 3 followers I connect with on Twitter who will at times post as many as 10/20/30 and even 40 posts in 1 hour. I kid you not. The worse part is those posts are usually just a title with shortened links to news stories within the field with very little substance from the user himself.
How am I supposed to keep up with everything they post and how can I really determine in 140 characters which posts are better than others for my business and me? Instead, I have been conditioned and learned that when I see their little thumbnail photo, to simply skip over their many posts because it is just too much to digest. (I only stay connected because I use it as an example to educate others).
Another mistake is to carry on @ message conversations on their walls rather than to put those messages into direct messages (DMs) where they can. I will occasionally tweet an @ message to thank someone for following me, but only if they do not allow people to direct message them. But please, don’t get me started on that issue!
When you post so much information that your followers feel you are monopolizing their time, they are likely to skip over your messages or unfriend you all together! No one says everything you tweet has to be your own, but sharing anything more than 2 or three an hour, especially when what your sharing is not your own, is just counter productive to the purpose of Twitter.
3. There Is No Way to Keep Up With My Connection’s Posts on Twitter
When you have a lot of connections and some of those connections inundate your newsfeed with WAY too many posts, it can start to get overwhelming. At almost every speaking engagement and corporate education program I partake in, people inevitably ask me, “How can I keep up with all of the posts if I have too many connections?”
To answer this question, I explain that as it takes time to get your profiles up and complete, it too takes time for you to get to know your connections. As each new person follows you, his or her tweets will show up on your newsfeed. Start paying attention to the tweets that have been posted over the last hour or so. Determine if the information they are posting is relevant to your social media strategy. If it is not relevant, or you feel you are being inundated, you can simply block that user from posting their tweets to your newsfeed.
Next, start making a note of your favorites and go directly to their profile pages to view what they have to say. If you have too many, you could always create a bookmark folder in your Internet browser and save the profile page URL for revisiting later. Over time you will determine which connections will serve you best to delete and which to follow more closely.
4. Twitter is So Impersonal
I can see how people can think this, because with some people it is. However, you can change that with those you interact with. The first step to this is to personalize your profile. Feature at the least your company logo on your profile to reinforce your brand. However, if you are the only Tweeting on behalf of your company it is best to personalize your Twitter profile with a professional photograph of yourself.
Next, social media is about building relationships, online and off and works best when used in conjunction with traditional face-to-face networking. Social networking is an amazing business tool that conveniently allows you to connect with people all over the world from your desk, but it is not meant to replace human interaction. The goal of making connections on Twitter is to grab people’s attention wanting them to know more about you.
Once you have caught your connection’s attention, the best way to keep Twitter from being impersonal is to send a DM to each person that follows you to simply say, “Hey, thanks for following me…” Not all people will respond in kind, but some will. Once dialog starts keep it moving in forward motion. Share your email and phone number, send an email, pick up the phone and call or if he or she is in your local geographical area, invite him or her to coffee or lunch. Twitter will only be impersonal for those who allow that to happen.
5. Having Incomplete Profiles is Not a Big Deal
What is the purpose of social media? Isn’t it to connect with others? There is so little information to a Twitter profile. But if you are the only one tweeting on your account, be sure to feature a personal photograph of yourself, display your name in addition to your company name, add a personal bio, include a link to your company website and even include additional company information such as phone number, fax and location by uploading a background picture that includes this type information. The easier you make it for your followers to find you the more likely they will connect and stay connected.
Finally, although this is not a myth I think is something most worthy of mention. May people choose to create vanity URLs for their company and Twitter pages, sometimes using a play on words, such as mine IPWatchdog_too (as in also). However, when creating your user name of vanity URL, be sure to take into account the key terms that people will use to find you. If you do not include key terms at least within your bio, it may be difficult for people to find you. Whenever possible, you should use your real name or company name either as the username or in the “Name” location of your profile.
For additional information on this topic as it pertains to business and other social media platforms, see:
- Top 5 Myths About Social Media for Business
- How Industry Giants Like Apple Use Social Media
- With Social Media YOU Are Your Brand
- Selecting a Business Name in a Social Media Crazy World
- Social Media Pitfalls – Common Yet Avoidable Mistakes