I get this call a few times a week. A potential client will call or email frantic that their well established business is in jeopardy. They have just talked to a tech maven and been told that the future of business is twitter. If they don't have a presence on twitter, then their business really doesn't exist.
They want me to set them up a twitter account and teach them how to use it. Immediately!
Before we get too far, I usually need to spend a few minutes assuring them that everything is OK, and their business is not in jeopardy. Like all things in business, we just need to think it through a bit.
It is usually only a good idea to invest in a twitter account (we're talking an investment of time, our most limited resource) if your business meets these criteria:
If you are in the above category, chances are, you probably won't need to start tweeting or worrying about it today. Unless your potential customers are the type that are watching the web in general (and twitter specifically), for developments in your field, you probably don't need to fret too much.
If your business provides something very specific, you most likely don't need to twitter your every move on this subject.
If your business involves something that people are watching twitter for, then it's probably a good idea to start looking into it. Chances are, if you are in this category, you probably already have a good handle on this.
The above seems really obscure, but let's back it up with some examples? I will use real examples where possible, but will shield the identity of some clients when I don't have their permission to use their names.
My brother runs a brick and mortar art glass studio/gallery that also has a online counterpart. His customers wait with bated breath for his next creations. Due to the nature of the process of creating new and inventive lines in artwork, the times between releases are usually more than a month or two. When a new release is ready, it's a big deal. This warrants a direct mailer and some personal interaction.
Since a mere tweet would blow right by most customers, and the end product is a very personal endeavor, I would advise that setting up a twitter account is not the best thing to spend time on.
A friend of mine, Dan Schlitt, runs Ashtonne Packaging Group. They don't warehouse boxes of assorted sizes and ship them on demand. They take orders for custom packaging and then produce that packaging and ship per a schedule.
In this case, I would definitely say that it wouldn't be wise to invest in a twitter account at this point. It would be much wiser to spend time and money researching potential customers using traditional methods.
Another friend runs a veterinary clinic. They provide services for farm animals (via house call) and pets. It is a traditional vet office where customers make appointments, bring their pets in, or schedule a call.
In this case, again, I would caution against it. The inherent problem is that the potential user base is not watching twitter to learn about veterinary services. It is a service that is researched only when needed.
We fall into this category. If you have a podcast, you obviously feel you have something of value to offer. In this case, jump in. Make sure that you tweet a few times a day with something of interest to your following, or risk being lost in the shuffle.
This one could go either way. The world has a good deal of real estate agents. In order to rise above the noise, a real estate agent must be incredibly smart and offer something that the average agent doesn't.
I can't imagine that anyone follows twitter looking for real estate listings. I would imagine that the followers of real estate agents are other agents. This is where you have your opportunity to shine as an expert in the field.
As an example, I really have no interest in real estate. That being said, I do follow NYC real estate agent @NikkiBeauchamp as her tweets are witty and entertaining. If I were to someday be in a position to buy real estate in Manhattan, the only person I would call is Nikki.
Once again, if you are a blogger, you know this already. If you are just coming into the world of blogging, and you are making a checklist of things to stage, make sure a twitter account is something you tick off. As you get into the process, make sure you blog consistently and tweet even more consistently
I really could go on for days on this subject, but I doubt that would do anyone any good.
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