I’m on Twitter less and less these days. Maybe it’s my new business and the time commitment involved. Maybe not.
Twitter is a bunch of good things: a great media relations tool, a platform for fomenting dissent and overthrowing odious regimes, a place for wily charities to raise cash, and a soapbox for any idiot with enough wherewithal to create an account.
However there are lots of things Twitter is not. Here are 6:
- A great place to sell products. I am sure you can cite a case of a firm using the service to sling stuff. However, for most companies, most of the time, it is a weak sales channel.
- A contest. Though it seems some view follower counts as exactly that, they’re kinda silly.
- A place for real connection. Lots will disagree with me on this. I suppose it depends on the definition of real connection, which I firmly believe can occur on the web. Twitter’s structure doesn’t allow this.
- A place where your “friends” are likely to help you move a couch IRL. See number 3.
- Easily explained. I’m always on about this it seems. There are surely people who can explain Twitter to others easily. I admire them.
- A good broadcast channel. If you produce content you occasionally need to pimp it out Filmore Slim style. I use Twitter for this. You probably do too. My analytics – and I am guessing yours – tell me that other soc nets are FAR more effective in terms of driving traffic. For most people, most of the time, the service is not well designed for pureplay broadcasting. If you commit to conversing and combine that with broadcasting you’ll do better.
Do you have anything to add?
Oh, how I love your lists! I couldn’t agree more with #5, as I struggle to explain Twitter to non-users without sounding like a complete nerd.
I would add that Twitter is NOT a complete waste of time. If it works for your communications goals and if it’s where your audience is congregating, then it can be a helpful communications tool. People tend to think it’s just people talking about their cats and what they ate for lunch. I’ve found it’s more enriching and helpful to keep the pulse on industry trends in real time.
I definitely disagree with #3, but I will quantify that to make real connections requires more than just Twitter. Through meetups, tweetups and regular social gatherings I’d say many of the friends I currently spend time with are people I met first through Twitter. Twitter is a start, actually getting out and meeting people in person is the next step to real connections.
My wife and I recently dealt with a loss in the family and many of our Twitter friends banded together, prepared a bunch of pre-made meals for us while we were going through bad times. All just out of the kindness of their hearts. Some of the most generous and thoughtful people I’ve ever met I met through Twitter.
A strong agreement with #2, since it’s all about a dedicated or niche fan base instead of just a broad one.
With #6, however, I have to say that most of the blogs I follow I found out about via Twitter.
The key to reaching an audience effectively is keeping your “theme” consistent (example: “In general, I talk about ‘business in China'”), but then finding a good balance with interesting tidbits to keep folks engaged. I have connected with Twitter followers on email more than once as a result of a Tweet.