People are asking lots of questions about using Twitter, particularly as a marketing tool and as a tool for PR.
The biggest challenge I see about using Twitter as a marketing tool is trying to get an answer to the following question:
What ROI am I going to get out using Twitter and why?
The ROI people receive from participating in Twitter is an open question. Some people get lots of tangible ROI and many don’t.
If you are an Oprah or an Ashton Kutcher, you may have a million followers. You can cultivate and perpetuate brand image by being a fun enjoyable person with your tweets.
Each one only follows a handful of people. That’s not conversation, it’s performing.
How much time do you think they really spend Tweeting and looking at other people’s Tweets?
Twitter is seen as a conversational medium and it takes time, effort and care to develop and cultivate relationships.
If the celebrities are using Twitter, is it because it will have a positive effect on their ROI? Look at how that happens.
Can you develop meaningful relationships with people on Twitter? Apparently so. Some people do anyway.
Can these relationships produce ROI?
Maybe. Some people may be able to mine the relationships and produce ROI but for most people that I know, this is not the case.
Is it because no one is really listening? Text message communications not all that easy to make motivational or galvanizing. Headlines in articles, news releases and the subject lines of email messages present many of the same daunting challenges. Look at the latest string of Tweets from anyone and see if what they say impresses you enough to spend lots of time each day keeping up with what they are saying.
120 to 140 characters with a snip link and say something of helpful, funny or useful with real value you may get someone to click on the link.
The same one liner may be forwarded.
You won’t sell product or services simply by tweeting three times a day if what you tweet is sales talk and links to your web site.
You may get friends and get followers if you post helpful or valuable information.
Tracking sales from individual tweets is going to be pretty difficult. Tracking traffic from Tweets may be easier.
Will it be worth the time and effort compared to other things that you can do with your time, energy, and money available for marketing?
Maybe. Maybe not. It depends what you do and what you receive from your Twitter efforts as compared to other things you are doing.
You can target using Twitter search and find people who have mentioned a keyword in their Tweets. Is this really a great targeting tool? Are you reaching people who are truly receptive to a direct message from you.
If what you posted had real value and if it helps people, then they may be grateful. They may spread the word to other. They may help you build a reputation for that value. Yes, it may bring new people to your site and you’ll get some ROI.
But is ROI you receive from this attenuated pathway really based on your Twitter post? Or is it because of the value in what you’ve created independent of your Twitter post.
Did you need Twitter to connect with someone to help them? Can you use all sorts of other methods of communication to meaningfully connect with people?
Is Twitter as valuable say as a regular phone call? A web seminar? A detailed post to a forum? An article in a trade publication? An interview on radio or TV? A podcast interview or an interview on Sirius satellite radio?
The answers may depend on who you are, what you do, and what you can give to others, and then of course, in what you have that brings you income that Twitter people will buy.
I believe that if you focus on the creation of real value then you won’t necessarily need to use Twitter at all.
In fact, unless you create something of real value in the first place, it won’t matter no matter what technology you use to communicate with people.
The quality product or service is the most important thing you need to focus on first and foremost.
Of course, if you do create something truly re-markable, other people will do all the talking for you anyway.
There are good reasons why companies need to be on Twitter and follow what people are saying, and even converse once an issue or even a crisis erupts.
But is it worth the time, effort and money it takes to be on Twitter for small businesses?
Maybe. It depends on you, your product, your services, and on the value of the relationships and the quality of the communications you have with the people you need to produce your income.
If you can have meaningful little tiny snippet text communications that relate directly to the mental factors that determine or influence sales decisions in your target audience then maybe Twitter is for you.
If on the other hand little tiny snippet text message communications don’t cut it, then maybe you don’t need to be using Twitter at all.