Texting began as a way of life for pubescent teens to communicate instantly and much more cheaply than making expensive mobile phone calls to each other. And then texting morphed into a key channel of communication for business people on the move. So will Twitter go the same way as texting and become the next big business phenomenon?
For most people reading this blog – and I’m assuming you’re over 30 for the purposes of this discussion – Twitter is synonymous with middle aged celebs banging on about the banal minutia of their everyday lives for those with a prurient interest in celebrity and pond life in general.
So should marketers write off Twitter as an insignificant channel to market, rather like Facebook?
Well, Mark Shaw and a growing band of Twitter evangelists disagree.
“Although you might not be in the market to know when Stephen Fry is walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard, you may be in the market to buy one of his books. And even though he doesn’t indulge in plugging, you may be surprised that he ends up shifting more books through conventional sales channels as a result,” says Shaw, who’s made it his mission to convert all sales and marketing people into the Twittering Classes.
The message is starting to slowly get through to the business community that Twittering can have an indirect impact on the bottom-line, although only 20 percent of all traffic or content is currently generated by brands and their loyal customers.
Another feature of this emerging channel of influence is that it’s dominated by blokes – although there are signs that this is beginning to change.
According to Shaw – one of the most followed correspondents on Twitter – the balance between personal and business usage is at a tipping point and Twitter is set to morph into a useful platform for business.
As evidence of this, Shaw points to the growing number of enquiries he receives from all over the UK and abroad from companies across all sectors desperate to jump onto the Twitter bandwagon but haven’t a clue of where to start or how to do it.
Companies often fear what they may hear from those who choose to follow them on Twitter and they may not always like what they hear. They are also worried about how to respond to these negative comments, particularly in such an open forum.
But such fears are symptomatic of the lack of understanding of the Twitter medium, argues Shaw.
“Twitter isn’t the same as blogging and about delivering the whole picture, nuts and bolts and everything else in between. Rather, it’s about signposting. And fundamentally, the interaction on Twitter for business is along the lines of where to find great stuff such as useful link to a web site. It’s not about flogging products or services. It is about being honest, transparent and helpful to the community which means you need to be yourself rather than faceless corporate entity that lacks personality,” observes Shaw.
Many sales and marketing people have also been carried away with the idea that they need a mini tribe of loyal followers on Twitter in order to make any impact within the community.
“Wrong”, says Shaw. “It’s about targeted followers. You need people who are listening to what you’re saying and interested in what you’re talking about.”
And a sure sign that you get this wrong is the ‘Monty Python Test’ – that is, people stop following you!
In order to avoid disaster even before you get going, Shaw offers this advice for the Twitter Virgin.
“You need to think through why you want to be on Twitter, what you hope to get from it and how you’re going to measure it before you even start. Assuming you’re clear about all of this stuff, you need to take it seriously. Just showing up occasionally won’t get you anywhere. And it’s important that your Twitter profile should have a nice a photo of you, a helpful biog which is key word rich so that you can be found by others and of course a URL to your web site.”
Get all of that right and you’ll be on your way to join the Twittering Classes.
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