By Bob West
I have to start this blog post with a confession: I didn’t always like Twitter. In fact, I thought Twitter was one of the dumbest ideas I had heard of when it debuted. Like so many others, I wondered how in the world I could be interested by 140 characters of anyone’s thoughts.
Now, I have come around (as many of you know given that you found this post because I Tweeted about it). And I am aware of the irony every time I talk to a client and explain why they need to engage on Twitter.
Twitter and how it can be used has evolved dramatically in the few short years of its existence, but I don’t think most people not on Twitter recognize this. Early on, Twitter was all about engagement — ‘talking’ back and forth, sharing comments and hearing from customers.
Creating this dialogue certainly has value, but it comes with many challenges, chiefly making sure your company has someone available to respond to customers in a timely manner. Many companies have found much more value in redefining Twitter for another purpose: Driving customers to their website.
For these companies, Tweeting is no different than running ads in an industry enewsletter or on a trade website or even posting to the company’s Facebook page. Twitter (or any other social media platform, for that matter) is just one more vehicle to use to reach your audience and get them to your website. The key then is not writing pithy, educational messages in just 140 characters. The key is often including a URL in the Tweet that brings your followers back to your website.
When viewed this way — as a means to create more web traffic — I think Twitter makes even more sense.
So where do I start, clients ask? Simple enough — get on Twitter and create an account. Doing so is free and takes about 30 seconds. Then, start following people. Either get recommendations from co-workers or simply start searching for the people, the companies or the organizations that interest you. Search for your clients, your vendors, your competitors, etc. You’ll find them, and once you start following people Twitter will start building a profile of you and recommending other Twitter accounts for you to follow.
Follow a couple dozen active accounts and you’ll likely come to view Twitter as your personalized homepage — every time you log on you get the latest news and information from the companies that interest you the most. (And you get a good idea of how others Tweet and what types of information make sense for you to Tweet, too.)