The question of whether Twitter is crap or not depends largely on whom you ask about it. Ask those who don’t use it and of course, they’ll immediately say that Twitter is a huge time waster and that no one should bother with using the service at all.
However, were you to ask people who make money on Twitter, you’d hear about how the micro blogging service is just about the greatest thing since Facebook. In fact, Twitter is often mentioned in the same breath as Facebook when you discuss various social networking platforms on the Internet – people often refer to them as one noun, “Facebook and Twitter.”
So where does the reality lay? I set out to find out and came to some very interesting conclusions for those who engage in social media marketing as well as for those who don’t understand this important aspect of Internet marketing but may wish that they did.
Twitter is First and Foremost, a Social Network
First off, Twitter definitely has its unique uses. Just as the Facebook Update feature is extremely popular, so is Twitter. It’s kind of like the if you took Facebook and removed the photos, videos and all the other stuff and just left the most popular feature, the status update, you’d have Twitter.
While 140 characters may seem a ridiculously small amount of space to make any meaningful points, especially when you figure in hashtags that often precede them (these are the # tags, such as #SEO which denote which topic you are tweeting about), there is a lot that can be said in those 140 characters.
Look at “TweetTheMeat” as a uniquely Twitter age company for example. They tweet a complete “story” each day on Twitter within the 140 character limit (It’s a horror genre story in case you were wondering). Another interesting Twitter only phenomenon is the Irish woman who tweets complete recipes on her account.
Twitter for Business (The Right Way)
However, for all that these things are interesting, is there any value to Twitter beyond either tweeting links to a website or odd tidbits specifically designed to fit within the 140 character limit? As Sarah Palin, another frequent Twitter user (not always successfully, though she did manage to coin a new word when she tweeted a mistake) would say, you betchya.
So how do you tweet if you run a website and you want to get more people to come to your site? Bottom line, unless you are a major corporation, you do so creatively, rather than just sending out links.
The first step however is to build up a following on Twitter.
How to Get Followers on Twitter
Now here’s something interesting to note: most people who get followed by someone will go ahead and follow that person back. It’s considered common courtesy on Twitter. What you do then is to follow your customers or potential customers on Twitter. While they won’t always follow you back, many will. The question of course is how to find them.
You can use Twitter to find people by searching for names (pointless unless you know who your customer is already) or by keyword. You can also search for hashtags they’ve used in the past. Both of these last two will tell you which people are interested in your particular products and whom to follow. They’ll likely follow you back and you’ll then have a base for tweeting.
What to Do Once You Have Followers
The thing about Twitter and Twitter users is that they actually hate spam as much as the next guy. What you need to do then to be successful on the site is to offer real value. For example, offering Twitter only coupons to your followers is a great way to give them value.
Or, consider offering useful tidbits of information which are only on Twitter and not on your blog. If you do that, then they’ll accept the occasional post letting them know about your newest product or web page as well and will be more likely to keep following you and keep dropping by your website.
Customer Service on Twitter
Finally, another interesting concept which I came across a while ago and blogged about on my personal finance blog is the idea of doing customer service on Twitter. Credit card issuers do this quite successfully, but there’s no reason you can’t adapt the same concepts to your own business or website, whatever it is.
Twitter is not crap. However, if you don’t know how to use it or don’t have time to tweet regularly, it will be a huge waste of time for you.