Twitter, that all-consuming 140-character beast that could quickly take over a social(media)ite's life, has become the digital balm for all your business woes.
Don't have enough customers? Take to Twitter. Trying to get more Facebook fans ? Tweet it. Want to expand your reach beyond your local area? Get yourself a Twitter handle.
Though you'd never know it if you met me at a cocktail party, I'm a huge fan of the short message medium. But I'm starting to think Twitter isn't for everyone.
While some companies have brilliantly integrated Twitter into their overall branding strategy, others should put their Tweeter back in the holster until they master the business basics or acquire some social media manners.
DM, please: There seems to be two schools of thought on sending regular Tweets aimed directly at one person. While I understand that you can't direct message (DM) someone who's not following you, I'm still not a big fan of using Twitter to carry on private conversations. If I'm following you, it's because I think you have something interesting to share with the group. With Tweets flying by at 100 per minute, I don't have time to go back and untangle the interaction between you and another Twitter user to figure out what you're referring to. And, since you surely already know this, I have to assume that you don't care that I can't follow what you're saying. This makes me not want to follow you at all.
Looking for a LTR: Twitter is an all-or-nothing proposition. If you're not in it for the long haul and committed to working it every day, you're probably not ready to use it. Twitter is not something you can dip in and out of whenever you feel like it. Successful Tweeters have a rhythm that their followers come to count on. If you're there for a few days and then gone for a few, people will forget about you. Better to commit to fewer Tweets a day, every day, than to flood us with a flurry of Tweets and then disappear for a week. We miss you.
Back to basics: Twitter is an amazing tool for those who've mastered the basics of marketing and customer service. But if you don't have a functioning website or you haven't figured out how to please the customers you already have, you're putting the Tweet ahead of the horse. Twitter is what you do after you've gotten all your ducks in a row. Before that, you're just spinning your wheels.
Think local: If you've got a business that reaches a national audience – an e-commerce business, for example – Twitter is the social media tool for you. It allows you to reach people all over the world in ways you never could before. However, if your business is confined to your local area – a bakery, for instance – Twitter might not be the best use of your time. In reality, how many of your customers are using Twitter? A Facebook page might be the better way to start. It's inherently more "local" and allows you to interact in ways that Twitter doesn't.
Fire the Twitter sitter: I may be in the minority on this one, but I'm really not a fan of "corporate" Twitter accounts that are handled by someone other than the company's key players. (As the Wizard of Oz might say: "Ignore the intern behind the Twitter account"). It makes me think that it's not so much a person I'm communicating with but a sales pitch. Only you know what's really important to your followers, and we can tell when you're faking it.
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Jeanette Mulvey is the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanettebnd or contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.