In my attempt to learn and grow, I have really focused on being a participant of Twitter the last week. It isn’t something I am comfortable with, I prefer to avoid the public eye, I prefer the shadows and the back row, to the sunlight and the attention. I wasn’t always this anti-social, it has just developed over time, as I have discovered being in the public domain can be very time consuming. I now make a conscience decision to put my efforts into things more important to me personally, which usually brings me little to no notoriety. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I even shut down my Facebook account, just due to the inordinate amount of time required to reply to all the Facebook foolishness. I can’t stand games, games when dating, board games, video games, game shows, card games, puzzle games, if it is a game, and not a sport, I am rarely if ever interested, much to the dismay of my wife and kids. So with all the games in Facebook, a personal Facebook page was much more of a distraction, than a personal advantage.
As far as my initial reaction to Twitter, at first I fought it, and it has taken me quite a bit of time to warm up to the idea. I am still a newbie, with only 49 followers and 205 updates, but I have been following people for just over 8 months, so I do know some stuff. My initial reaction… It is a part of social media that doesn’t take up that much time, and there is just enough interaction to make it interesting, without being annoying. Best of all, you can just say on the sidelines and watch the whole thing if you want. I like the idea of requiring users to say something relevant in only 140 characters. One thing I have found to be most interesting is I tend to read items those I follow read and recommend. About 2 years a go I got into reading blogs everyday. I would set aside an hour a day to just read blogs. Business, SEO, technology and health blogs were my favorites. As updates would occur to these blogs throughout the day, I would click over and get caught up. But as many of us know, the information distributed through blogs these days just keeps coming, and there are more and more really good blogs out there all the time. Eventually it got to a point where I couldn’t keep up, and now I will maybe get to read the blogs once or twice a week now, and usually I just skim and look for a headline that catches my attention. My RSS feed is quite a lonely fella these days, and is basically ignored.
However, with Twitter, when someone I respect and follow recommends something to read, I will take the time to read it. It they give me a couple of bad articles in a row, I just quit following them, and the bad recommendations go away too. It has made choosing where I spend my time reading much more effective and beneficial then going out and just searching the various blog sites on my own.
Twitter in business has proven to be very successful, with many good case studies. Comcast and Zappos both use Twitter to interact with clients, address complaints or comments broadcasted over the Twitter network. With Twitter the public can actually see the interaction taking place, which I think bolsters both sides. Because it is a public setting, customers complaints and comments carry more weight, and companies have more incentive to take notice of these individuals. Additionally, much goodwill can be earned when companies publicly address these concerns, and solve the issues within the public forum. It is potentially a great result for both parties. Additionally, Twitter has been used to increase sales. Dell Outlet has used Twitter to broadcast sales items and great deals on their products at their online store. Dell recently published a tweet which stated they had been able to sell $1 million worth of products using Twitter.
So how can we approach Twitter as small business owners, and brand builders. One thing which if common in any media, we must remember we are our brand in many ways. We need to show our personalities and just let it go. I enjoy following those on Twitter who are fun, who share insights to not only their business, but also into themselves a little bit. I like reading how others struggle with the everyday life items, it makes them human, and frankly more likable. So I would suggest discussing business and your work goals, but also let them see who you are, you may not know it, but others will find that kind of honesty and willingness to share very I don’t like doing it, I am sure many of you won’t. There is just something that feels fundamentally wrong about throwing myself out into cyberspace, and not being totally sure where it will land, or who will read it. I had to deal with the same feelings when we started this blog a while back. Just as a final note. For those on Twitter currently, who are attempting to create or build your personal or business brand. I would suggest leaving the F-bombs and foul language out of your tweets. I know there is Freedom of Speech in this country, and I know everyone is free to spread whatever they want, but we as potential clients are also free to choose where we buy, and what we read, and I for one am not going to read or buy from a person who can’t spend the brain power to come up with a few better words than the sludge some sling up there in the tweets. Here is a link to an online Thesaurus, please take a minute to come up with a few less offensive words before your next foray.
So far Twitter has been an interesting experiment. Twitter is far less annoying than Facebook, and has proven to have some benefits I did not expect. It doesn’t take much time, and finding and following good people on Twitter can actually be quite beneficial. Throw in the opportunity to interact with clients, and perhaps increase sales, and I would say Twitter and small business can be good partners for a long time to come.