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Is Twitter keeping you awake?

Recently I’ve been having conversations with small business owners that suggest Twitter is causing them sleepless nights. They fear losing potential customers because they’re not on Twitter or that they’re not correctly using Twitter.

Like them you may have read articles from social media ‘experts’ or spoken to (often younger) family members telling you that Twitter, and for that matter Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram etc., are now essential to your future business success.

I know some people feel like the technology is passing them by. Are you one of those waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering how your business is performing on social media? Or are you dreaming about Twitter as a gold mine of customers just waiting to part with their money?

I hope I can restore a little calm.

While Twitter is a useful marketing tool, it is absolutely not a panacea for marketing salvation. It is also not a necessity for every business. It’s just another means to engage your audience and like any marketing decision, you use Twitter only if it has an impact.

For example: if you were running a business making goth clothing, you probably wouldn’t choose to advertise in Home & Country magazine. It’s possible you may reach a small number of interested customers but it’s probably not going to be a good use of your budget. The same principle applies to Twitter.

It’s also important to understand whether it’s a space your audience will expect to interact with you. I once consulted with a B2B company whose customers were on Twitter but not in a professional capacity. We therefore decided to concentrate on other social platforms.

Is it worth my time?

Twitter, like all social media, can be a terrible drain on your time. Yes, for almost every business there will be some people on Twitter you could engage with, but how many? And how many of those will be good leads? Does it help drive your brand?

My advice to business owners is to try using Twitter first in a personal capacity. Setup an account for a month, follow people, get used to the conventions and analyse what works well and what is boring. See what your rivals are doing and think how you can do it better. What will motivate people to follow you? What will they get out of it? If you cannot answer these questions, go back to the drawing board and perhaps consider employing a marketing professional. People aren’t lemmings, they won’t follow your account if they’re not interested in what you have to say.

Do resist throwing yourself into Twitter for a few days and then leaving it dormant forever after (almost nothing looks sadder than a stagnant social media presence). It’s best to start with a content strategy, evaluate its effectiveness and change and adapt as you would with any form of marketing.

Twitter is a wonderful 21st century social tool and for businesses, it can be uniquely successful at engaging with customers and building brands. But don’t lose sleep over it. Marketing is about picking your battles, not waging an exhausting war on all fronts.

Stu Hill wakes up in a cold sweat on behalf of his clients as a freelance marketing consultant based in Victoria BC. You can send him an email here.

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