My post yesterday triggered a lot of discussion including worried cries from lots of Twitter afficianodos. Sorry, I didn’t want to dampen your enthusiasm or blind devotion.
It’s that pesky ROI question that I’m wanting to focus on specifically and strategically.
If you are getting ROI and it’s worth your while, then keep doing it. I want to see facts and data and learn how people do it profitably.
I would like to see what you say, understand who you say it to, and what happens specifically and over what period of time. I’d like to learn the connections to your landing pages and your fees to see how the ROI is generated.
My experience and that of many many many repeat many many many of my clients, invest time and energy and even create huge numbers of followers and even they see very little for it in terms of real ROI. Oh a few do, but very few indeed.
I think there are many reasons for this.
First is that the ability to communicate meaningfully so that you persuade and achieve action is very limited by Twitters brevity and that no matter what you give, getting through to people so that you achieve action is really hard.
Second, I think that at least in lots of businesses, successful people do not make decisions that entail or rely on or are even remotely influenced by what they can learn from Twitter conversations.
Sure, there are success stories and they are galvanizing. But they are actually rare. The data on ROI for bread and butter people and businesses is lacking.
Personally, I don’t mind Twitter at all. To me it is another tool in the arsenal. Like all the others, the technology has special communications requirements.
Some people don’t want to look at it as a marketing tool. They say to me “I don’t get it”. It’s just for communicating with people.
I think they are missing my point. Clients want to use it as a marketing tool. It’s a given fact. So it is the use of the tool for marketing that I want to focus on.
There are many people who think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Obviously, there are people who are growing up using these technologies, and even building their lifestyles, and their livelihoods and incomes and the way they communicate with their clients around the technologies they use. To them, Twitter is just a wonderful extension of what they do and feel.
Like it or not, there are plenty of people who do use it and with text messaging and the ease of use on cell phones and blackberries, it is important to keep your options open. My kids use it. My doctor doesn’t. I do sometimes. Some people live and breathe on their iPods. They may have nothing better to do with their time.
I like being able to search and ascertain who’s talking about what. Although it has limits and doesn’t compare to the Internet for quality content and reliable detailed information searches for real problem solving data or information.
It’s a great tool for finding out “what’s happening” and searching for news and following real time events. Put in the word ‘tornado’ and you’ll find out exactly what’s touching down where and within seconds of it happening.
It has a valuable function for businesses who monitor what people say or who need to respond to a crisis.
All these things are true and all it takes is money and take time and effort and skill.
So I’m not giving up on it at all. I’m not averse to using it.
My questions are how much money, how much time, and what skills?
I am a scientist and a former attorney and a consultant who seeks to provide service and value. I think in terms of systematic processes to achieve success. The processes have to be capable of being reproduced for me to recommend them to clients and to teach with them.
So my search is for valid guidelines and tactics. Hence, what I hope for is not hope and hype, but statistically proven tactics with some documentation of the ROI.
I’m looking for guidelines in how to use it wisely and what messages work best for what purposes.
That’s my point. To measure the ROI with Twitter is very difficult. It varies phenomenally.
The number of followers to me is a dubious metric. You can develop a following and be in communications with thousands of people. You can tweet to them three times a day or three times a week.
But does it produce sales? Does the time and effort and money you invest yield a net income and is it worthwhile?
That is the question I want to focus on.
The time it takes to do this well competes with other income producing activities you can be doing. How you spend your time is a choice you make.
I am very cognizant of the power of targeted communications. The right message in front of the right people can be truly amazing. I do this with media day in day out.
But what if the people you reach using Twitter don’t react in a way that lets you profit from the time effort you invest in it.
You have to determine that yourself.
I want people to succeed when they use Twitter or any other medium of communication.
I see that people have to be careful though that they don’t replace productive income producing activities, with less income producing activities. That’s one of the risks here.
My recommendation is to track exactly what you do and make an objective determination and compare it to other dedicated marketing activities that produce sales.
Decide based on the income data.
If it works do more of it. That’s common sense.
But if you find it’s eating up your time and the hits don’t ripen into sales and ROI, then perhaps you should do something else.
If you spend just half an hour a day on Twitter, you’ve made a decision that results in you giving 15 hours a month to it. Are you making ten dollars an hour for your time? Did you by any chance just lose 15 hours at $100 an hour doing that?
That’s the type of choice I face.
Like it or not, much to the dismay of those who have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, lots of people are finding out that Twitter can be a demanding time eater, and it may produce very little in the way of tangible and reliable income.
In fact, it can take them away from other proven activities that are needed to produce income that they rely on.
Everyone has to make the choice for themselves and decide how to spend time that produces income.
I think that given how difficult it is to survive and make an income these days, it is really important for people to document what they really experience carefully, so that they can make good sound decisions.
That’s what I’m really interested in. Hard data. Not theory. Fact.
How much time do you need to invest to develop a following?
How do you really reach the people who really matter to your business?
How do you communicate with them?
These are simple but important questions.
The number of dollars per unit time expended is something more interesting to me since I can compare it directly to how I spend time and the income I presently receive.
The way I spend that time is very important since I can compare it to how I know I spend my time now and the income I presently receive for that conduct.
What messages are best for what purpose is also a subject I’m very interested in because I can compare it to how I communicate now and what income those communications produce for me.
That’s what I’m after.
I think it would help others to find out these things as well.