Tweeting–using Twitter–for business is really different than just plain Tweeting. Here’s why.
When I Tweet as me, I’m off duty. I’m in a room full of hand-picked, interesting people and we talk about everything—the multi-dimensional threads that build Twitter community. Example: Thomas. We met through work, but now connect on family, politics and personal interests, as well as what’s happening in the industry, when we cross paths on Twitter. Our Tweets have helped us become friends.
But when I Tweet for business, or guide clients to Twitter, it’s with a very different intention. The focus is on sharing information that matters—that’s relevant—to the person on the other side of the Tweet. “Relevant” is the key word. It’s all about them. For business, you have to Tweet the stuff that matters to your audience—that makes a difference in their lives, work, minds, or, ultimately, wallets.
The CEO of Zappos.com is a much-cited example of corporate Tweeting. But I also think that Ribbit.com, a voice-to-Web startup (disclosure: I do some consulting for them) does a good job engaging in a Twitter-based business conversation. (Follow, if you’d like, to see it in action.)
IMHO, Tweeting for business only works you give more than you take. And if you’re patient. That can be hard for start-ups, because often, early-stage companies are limited in what they can openly communicate. It takes some creative thinking, and a real commitment, to engage in conversation, especially in a setting like Twitter.
To help businesses understand Twitter, I wrote Ten Top Twitter Tips for Business, building from the Ten “Regular” Twitter Tips also on this blog. But those Ten turned into Twelve, each with detail, and then into Fourteen…way too much information.
So I’m starting with Two Tips, designed to get you started exploring the potential Twitter offers to businesses to start open, transparent, collaborative conversations.
Take a look, and come back tomorrow. I’ll post two more. But starting things off:
1. Practice first. Set up a personal Twitter account and learn your way around. Invite friends. Gather a few followers and get to know the basics with them. Be sure to know what you’re doing before you connect with customers. You would be doing your business a disservice to build a following and not have your act together when you start Tweeting them. And continue Tweeting as “you,” even once your business Twitter plan is underway. You will learn so much. Master the tools, see how the conversation grows, and be Twitter-savvy before you start Tweeting for business.
2. COMMIT before you TWIT. As you know, every action you take as a business affects how your customers and community see you, experience you. Like any other business decision, your outcome on Twitter can only be as good as the process behind it. Building community on Twitter requires an investment of content, frequency and time.
If you’re looking at Twitter as a platform for business conversations, go in with a long-term commitment. I don’t think that anyone would tell you that the ROI will be predictable, conventionally measurable, or immediate. Blogger Nick O’Neill reports that “there are on average 200,000 active daily users on Twitter … I have friends whose Facebook apps get more traffic than that.”
One pundit aptly described Twitter as “Web serendipity”…well said. You don’t go to Twitter for the raw numbers…at least not yet. You go for chance that you run into someone, pick up a story, learn of an opportunity that makes a difference…and that you would have missed otherwise. Keep this in mind as you plan how you will use Twitter, how you will define success, and how you will modify your plan as your Twitter presence evolves.
Work.com’s Guide to Twitter for Business is worthwhile if you’re thinking of adding Twitter to your business mix. Read it, and click links to explore what’s possible in the Twittosphere. You’ll learn more about the surprising complexity (I mean that in a good way) on simple-seeming Twitter—and of the value of building a presence there.