Twitter is very popular now - getting mentions on daytime talk shows, spurring celebrity competitions, and even receiving governmental uptime requests. People and companies are jumping on to the service because everyone else is. But should they be?
The answer for most companies is probably no.
Using social media isn't about checking a box or matching the competition. It is about finding new ways to enhance a company's relationship with its customers, whether is it just listening to them, giving them more information, or truly engaging them in conversation or even brand development. Twitter is a medium that can enable this in a low cost way, but it may not be the right place for your company.
Here are some reasons why not:
- You don't know if your customers are actually on Twitter. This is pretty simple to find out - go to search.twitter.com, and run some searches with your company name, your brands, and other keywords and it should be pretty obvious whether your customers are talking about you. You might also search for your competitors - are they getting mentioned? If your customers aren't there, then try to spend your resources somewhere they actually are.
- You haven't committed time and resources. Social media takes time, and Twitter is no exception. A good Twitter strategy would involve daily searching and interacting, production of useful content, effective resolution of issues, and a plan for incorporation of useful feedback. If your company isn't prepared to allocate these resources and commit to following through day after day, then your Twitter outreach is likely to fail.
- You are just checking a box. People can sense a lack of authenticity. Oprah's total of 5 tweets in June have turned the positive feelings of many supporters into disillusionment. The negatives of a ghost town far outweigh the benefits of just having an account.
- It doesn't fit into your marketing plan. You need to have a plan to make your social media efforts succeed and it needs to be part of your overall marketing plan. If everyone isn't moving in the same direction, it is likely that your social media efforts might contradict or change the effects that the general marketing plan is trying to achieve. It is much better to get everyone lined up under the same set of goals, and use each medium to its full potential to reach those goals.
If you don't have the issues above, and are ready to start, but don't know how - don't let that stop you. It is better to start and have an open mind to learning and adjusting than to wait on the sidelines.