Should I Use Twitter for Business

I was listening to Stephen Fry being interviewed the other day and he mentioned his obsession with Twitter.

It reminded me that I had started a trial of Twitter myself a couple of months ago and I still hadn’t written up my thoughts on its true worth to business.

So, let me answer the question.

Should I use Twitter for Business?

It would be easy to say yes and end the blog post!

However, I’m actually leaning more to the answer maybe and so that needs some explanation.

First I should probably explain what Twitter is.

If I said it’s just another of these social networking sites that have been springing up then I’m sure some of the purists will jump down my throat and tell me I don’t understand. Unfortunately for them I do and it is!

Basically it’s a network where people share bites of information, 140 character bites to be exact.

You post a quick line or two into Twitter about what you are doing or what you have seen etc and everyone who has decided to follow your Twitter will instantly get to see that post.

One of the most annoying parts of Twitter are the people who think you really want to know that they have just had a coffee or that they are sitting watching a rerun of Lost. Who cares? I certainly don’t.

However like all the other social networking sites it does have value. The reason I say “maybe” when trying to tell you whether you should use it for business is because I feel it can only deliver value on certain levels.

You need to decide whether that value is worth your time.

One question that keeps popping up is how can Twitter help with SEO. My feeling is it can’t really. If you are embarking on using Twitter to post lots of links back to your site in the hope of pushing up your sites ranking then I think you are wasting your time.

The second claim I see is that people are doing business on Twitter. Really? How? I eagerly wait for someone to show me how they made money directly from being on Twitter (that excludes the people who are selling books on how to get rich on Twitter!)

Where I do see value is in helping to build networks, both with potential customers and with business partners. I’ve managed to strike up some rapport with a few people in similar or complimentary businesses. However like all networks, you have to put in if you hope to take out. It’s a two way street and so it should be.

The other area of value is the speed with which it aids communication. I can scan a page of Tweets very quickly and usually find some very interesting pointers to great articles or resources. I find scanning Tweets far quicker than scanning my email Inbox or even my Blog feeds.

So, I’ve found some value and I will continue to use it.

If you want to follow me, click on the link.

Follow me on Twitter

If you have any thoughts on using Twitter for business, please share them. Maybe you disagree with me about its use. Maybe you are one of the people who has made money from Twitter! If so, please do tell.

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17 comments to Should I Use Twitter for Business

  • Twitter….

    Well, what can I say…. I joined Twitter recently and spent a little while trying to understand the basics and more importantly what it could do for me and my real estate website.
    So far, I have found limited use for it, it no way compares to the likes of Facebook etc and I see that Twitter for me personally, is really a waste of time.
    Unless, ofcourse, I am missing the point…..

    Christopher Walkey
    OneStopView.com – Free Real Estate Video Tours.

  • I’ve only recently begun to tweet, but think it could be useful – if nothing else it might give me some inspiration for my blog.

    I noticed today that a journalist from the local paper is following me now, so maybe it might prove useful in terms of access to local press.

    Too early to give a definitive answer, I suspect.

    http://twitter.com/@spirallinguk

  • I find that nearly everybody who follows me on Twitter is trying to sell me something. I ramble on and occasionally give my URL, but I dont know if it achieves very much. I don’t have much time for chatting anyway.
    Check out Zrepeels.

  • I agree with the fundamentals of this post – it could be called Facebook Light. The only additional functionality is that it interacts with your mobile, which as a reasonably busy business man would drive me mad getting endless texts about somebody in BF Idaho putting the kettle on. The other disadvantage of this is that you would be getting beep beep, beep beep in the middle of the night, while blissfully asleep which would probably result in the phone hitting the wall , or worse the cat. I am yet to be convinced even of the value of the likes of Facebook as a REAL business tool that can be taken seriously, who the hell is going to spend money with anyone that claims they have 2500 friends? (unless its Madonna or Coolio et al which lets face it, most of us are not!) and I dont want to bore my real friends with takky commercial posts

  • n.b. I read this post because I wanted to and actively came across it through my own activity – ive read a few of your things and found it most interesting and useful – thanks

    and anyone reading this comment that just happens to need their swimming pool heating and live in Europe please see us here
    http://www.calyenty.com

    lol

  • I have been Twittering for about 7 weeks. To begin with I could not get my head around it as a tool for business, but little my little I am beginning to see its potential.

    I like Twitter and particularly its simplicity. You can use it to discover valuable information for your business and likewise tweet info relating to your business for followers.

    The key of course in terms of it being valuable as a marketing tool is whether or not your followers are listening. I guess that depends on how many each of your followers are also following others and consequently how noisy is their Twitter feed.

    Perhaps the most important factor in being heard is by gaining credibility for posting useful information. Whilst it doesn’t take long to post a 140 character tweet, it does take time to build a good reputation.

    I think the power of Twitter as a marketing tool lies in the retweet. If you do tweet something valuable and some of your followers retweet your message and likewise some of their follower’s followers too, then your message can quickly be broadcast to a very wide network.

    That’s my theory anyway, Whether it works in practice I don’t yet have personal experience of, but I would be interested to hear others view.

  • Oliver,

    I live in Europe and I suspect my fish pond could do with some heating.

    I haven’t yet been able to afford a swimming pool. Living in England we don’t get much call for outdoor pools :)

    Thank though for the offer.

    Mike

  • Peter Lunn,

    Your Tweets are amongst the best that I follow and well worth checking out.

    Cheers
    Mike

  • I started to use Twitter in earnest when I set up my own business last year.

    I’ve found it’s very useful for keeping in touch with business contacts informally and building relationships.

    I agree with Peter Lunn about retweeting. I’m lucky in that my mentor has a very large network on Twitter and when I signed up to follow him, he retweeted me and lots of his network started following me, and I in return started following them.

    It is a great way to connect with people all over the world and I’ll definitely go on using it.

    And if you get annoyed with someone’s updates, you can always stop following them.

    M

  • I’ve fairly recently started using Twitter and as I am currently following an IM mentoring course it is a great way to keep in contact with fellow students.

    These people hopefully will turn into people I shall be doing business with in the future, and I have met other people through them who hopefully I shall do business with in the future …etc.

    So it depends whether you view it as a tool you want instant results from or one that will take longer to build up your contacts.

    Personally I take the long term view.

    Hilary

  • For the first couple of months I didn’t get Twitter at all, but with a few helpful tools and tips it has become a source of really up to date information, recommended by people who are expert in their field. Twitter is so open to information farming, I can see quite a few new tools exploiting this in the near future, making Twitter the infrastructure of choice when looking for real-time opinion and ideas.

    Ian

  • I pretty much agree with your sentiments, no one wants to know what I just had for dinner but if I post a blog about travel, website design or SEO for instance then people might just take a look and if they find the information useful or interesting then they are likely to share the link with their like minded people and follow to see if I come up any other good stuff.

    So it still comes down to one thing in the end, have you got something useful to pass on via the internet, if so I think people will follow you.

    Actually as I write this it just occurred to me that you should really only tweet about your particular areas of interest whether that is your information or good information from 3rd parties.

    My subjects would be Internet Marketing, Website Design and Travel for instance. If I stuck to those 3 core subjects then presumably any followers I get would be interested in those subjects and could benefit from following me.

    Likewise if they are interested in those subjects and do the same I would benefit from following them. Isn’t that the point after all???

  • Brian,

    Yes I think you have the point to Twitter for Business pretty much nailed.

    I find it valuable as an information source and also as a way of getting informations out.

    However I think you have to slightly personalise it so that you connect with the people who follow you otherwise you just become an RSS feed.

    I have already got into the pattern of activlely looking for Tweets from some of the people I follow and glossing over most of the others.

    It’s “why” I take interest in those few that interests me because they clearly have the mix right.

  • Ian Culpin,

    What tools are you using. Please share :)

    I’m trying to find some decent tools to help me filter and manage Twitter.

    Thanks

    Mike

  • I have just started twittering. I remain unconvinced about the value for my own business (hobby) venture so far but will keep going for a while. This is an interesting post though.

    Cheers,

    http://www.dakotaboo.com/

  • Twitter for business ?
    Yes! (especially in niche markets I think)

    Best wishes & thanks for an interesting read
    Will
    http://twitter.com/whatawebsite

  • Have just started using Twitter for http://www.teddybearfriends.co.uk and noticed that Google has just started to include tweets in their search results (may be experimental as it comes and goes) so that would be a good reason to use it now – get ranked on the search engines for your business website. Although how long that rank holds may not be long which could encourage spam to keep a website listed.

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