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Everyone’s on Twitter, Right?

We live in a world of hype. New and improved this. Best of breed that. I have been involved in many different industries over my career and there has been none that matches the hyperbole that is the Internet and in particular, Internet marketing. Well, there has been so much said about Twitter and the revolution that will ensue because we can now tweet about everything. You should be receiving an avalanche of business because of Twitter, right? If you tweet it, they will come.

The truth is that this is great business theater but not true in most cases. Let’s look at a few numbers. There are about 200 million Facebook users and that has taken 5 years to amass that group. Very impressive indeed. Twitter is about 2 years old now but just getting widespread attention in the past 6 months. The total users is now somewhere north of 25 million and growing rapidly. Twitter gets a ridiculous amount of press and therein lies the rub.
To the uninitiated, it looks like everyone is moving to Twitter and using it 24/7. Once again, not true. In fact, a report this week out of the Harvard Business School posits that 90% of the tweets on Twitter come from 10% of the users. Some quick math takes that 25 million user number down to 2.5 million like that. Of course of those users a good portion of them are probably the tech / geek type that gave the service its start oh so long ago.
So what does this mean to business? Here’s my thoughts.

  1. Businesses need to do research. If their target market is on Twitter already, great. Go for it. If they aren’t, though? Does that mean that you don’t use it as part of your marketing mix? Maybe. This is a serious business decision and not a vanity one. Twitter twakes twime. If you don’t have it, and your audience is elsewhere, then move on. There’s nothing to see here.
  2. You can build your own Twitter community. If your customers are not on Twitter, you need to let them know that you are. If Twitter was smart, they would put together programs that help companies get their customers on the service tofollow that company. Once they are in and learn how to properly use the service, their usage may expand. Their intro to the service, however, could be through a business they are interested in knowing more about.
  3. Content is still king. Whether it’s 300 words on a Web page, 500 words in a blog post, or 140 characters in a tweet, if the content stinks, then people will go away. Don’t automate or appear to be fake. You will regret the day you decided to jump in once you have been found out to be a “fraud” of sorts.
  4. Twitter is not a silver bullet. In fact, I would argue that it will challenge your business acumen like nothing else. No one has established hard-and-fast rules that can guarantee even modest success. Many come to it and leave almost immediately. If you are not prepared for a long haul that is typified by patience, the awareness that mistakes will be made, and the thick skin needed to take whatever Twitter dishes out, then you need to think long and hard about jumping in.

Everyone’s not on Twitter, despite what you read. It is not for everyone, despite what we may feel. It can be, however, incredibly powerful if you use it strategically and realistically. How that happens is entirely up to you. Are you ready?

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