Why smart business owners cut through the noise and get the Twitter business case

I’ve been thinking about the comment I heard yesterday morning from an otherwise quite smart presenter on morning television, to the effect that everyone who goes on Twitter gets addicted to it and that’s why she is not on it. I didn’t get the exact words – let’s face it, who hangs on every word from breakfast television?

But I suspect that that presenter’s views on Twitter, if repeated in a local book club or at a barbecue would not be regarded as exceptional.

Twitter signup screenshotFrom a business point of view and going by various comments or reactions I’ve noticed in recent months, I believe it’s fair to say there are a lot of people in business who have heard about Twitter but have the view that it is some or all of the following:

  • trivial
  • boring
  • time-wasting
  • addictive
  • maybe dangerous
  • definitely irrelevant for any serious business

And just the day before I heard the comments on morning television, I’d had a conversation over a friend’s birthday breakfast event, with some also smart, professional people who were expressing a shared perception of Twitter as being about the most trivial of people’s daily activities and thus, by implication, not something which an intelligent person who valued their time would even consider.

The people at the breakfast listened courteously to my comments along the lines that:

  • there is a lot of very useful information exchanged on Twitter
  • there is a mixture of “serious” items and the more trivial, as there is in many or most conversations offline
  • there are tools to facilitate intelligent, efficient use of Twitter

But my impression was that they chose to be at least skeptical, if not simply disbelieving.

As it was a social occasion on a relaxing, sunny Sunday morning, I did not pursue the matter further at the time, but I thought I’d have a bash now at identifying some of the standard myths about Twitter that would discourage business owners from even considering the possibility that Twitter could help their business.

There is a good, succinctly argued list of business benefits of twittering by Rob on the New Business Media (NBM) site, under the headings of:

  • dialogue with customers
  • free publicity
  • build customer relationships
  • research
  • networking

Yes, Twitter can be addictive and time-wasting. So can cross-word puzzles, chatting on the phone, watching television…

But let’s get real. If businesses from the very small to the very large are getting on Twitter and using it to advance their business objectives, wouldn’t that suggest it’s worth a closer look? And the best way to get a closer look is from the inside, i.e. by joining Twitter.

Another reason for having your own and your business’s presence on Twitter is so you don’t have the problem others have had from fake Twitter accounts in their name or their company name. Twittersquatting offers a serious challenge to any business marketing strategy and probably a more serious challenge to businesses which don’t have any such strategy.

So whether a business is looking at using Twitter to help with its marketing in a positive, constructive way or simply on a more defensive, safeguarding the brand basis, now would be a very good time to take action, get an account on Twitter and find out first-hand what the fuss is all about.

By the way, I found it slightly Agent Scully-ish that when, on starting to write this post I checked as I often do to see what earlier posts I had on the subject, I found “Getting Serious About Twitter” posted on – yes, this day October 27 exactly one year ago.

Right now, I’m thinking maybe it’s time to do a webinar, along the lines of “If you think Twitter is too trivial for business, get over it!”. I’m wondering would there be enough interest? Are there enough business people who are not convinced, but intrigued or curious enough, likely to pick up on that?

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).