What Good Is Twitter?

Now that you’ve finally gotten the hang of Facebook, all you keep hearing about is Twitter. What’s the big deal?

You may even know what Twitter is (short answer: a social media web site where you can follow someone else’s “Tweets” – 140 character messages about anything), but the truth is that – compared to Facebook – not many people understand it. In fact, a huge number of people who sign up for a Twitter account abandon it immediately when they simply can’t figure out what to Tweet (“I’m eating a ham sandwich.” “Watching Real Housewives ha ha.” “Waiting at the DMV.”).

On the one hand, this sort of gives Twitter a false sense of size (users shouldn’t really count if they never log in). On the other hand, it’s a shame that more people don’t stay with Twitter, because it is a vibrant, viable communication tool with a lot of potential. I have had a Twitter account for a couple of years, but rarely used it. Recently, I made a point of looking for organizations and individuals that I was interested in so that I could check my Twitter “feed” each night when I go over Facebook. I had a lot of luck with sports personalities (ESPN staff are very active on Twitter) and some actors and authors, but not many of my favorite musicians (a  lot of my heavy metal heroes had only ever Tweeted once, usually something like “How the X&#$!! does this work!” and then were never heard from again).

At any rate, I put together a pretty cool list of people that I am interested in and now I get an update on what they are doing (as long as they are active Tweeters). For example, Adam Shefter from ESPN keeps me up to the minute on NFL comings and goings, seemingly from his phone (it’s the middle of the night Adam… go to bed!) while actor Bruce Campbell tells me all about his adventures at various ComicCon get-togethers. My friend Steve likes to forward everyone links to interesting articles, something that web nerds love to use Twitter for. All in all, I like the information I get in short bursts from Twitter.

Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned what I Tweet myself. That’s because I rarely do, and that’s one thing about Twitter that kind of bothers me. It’s sort of a one-way street for many of us (though some media outlets such as ESPN use it for 2-way communication now more than email). We are mostly listening, but not really interacting that much. I don’t think that’s just me, either. I think it’s a lot of Twitter users.

What about marketing with Twitter? How can we put it to work for us to communicate with our customers? Well, in that instance Twitter is a lot like Facebook. That is, unless you have customers that want to hear from you, they really won’t follow your feed. And as for traditional “advertising,” Twitter has a long ways to go to even catch up to Facebook. You can buy “Promoted Tweets” that show up when someone searches Twitter for a certain topic (as well as other places). You can also purchase “Promoted Trends” and a couple of other marketing opportunities. All things considered, Twitter is only now getting cranked up with trying to make money by capturing marketing dollars (much to the dismay of users who have enjoyed a long relationship with no advertising to speak of), and they’re a little behind the curve. I look forward to Google+ being a lot more organized when they finally go live.

Anyway, what good is Twitter? It’s a great way for you to get information and share it. What good is Twitter for your business? I’m not sure yet. It may take a little bit for the good folks at Twitter to get a better handle on how to include small- to medium-sized businesses in the mix (at least for the purpose of finding new customers – a feed for your current customers is a great idea if you think they’ll pay attention).

Stay tuned… here at Anchor we have our fingers on the pulse of all things social media and pay-per-click and search-based. When you want to take advantage of the incredible opportunities those kinds of marketing promise, just let us know.