Are Business Users Ruining Twitter ?

Spam is in the eye of the beholder.

What ? You say. Surely Spam is spam is spam.

Actually it’s quite a subjective concept and the more people use Twitter for business the more we will  be followed by people whose sole motive is to capture our custom.

But before you rush to block everyone you don’t know and put walls round your networks, I think there are two things worth considering.

Timing and Selling.

Timing was covered brilliantly by Copyblogger the other day, so not much more needs to be said. In summary there is a very fine line between salad and garbage, it’s all in the timing. Yesterday it was perky salad, today it’s wilted leaves. Yesterday’s unwelcome insurance salesman is today’s policy expert (if you happen to need a policy that is.)

Likewise a spammer trying to sell DIY services on Twitter might turn into a Godsend the day your guttering falls down.

If you are the DIY man then you aren’t going to know if I need you or not but you can increase your chances of staying in my Twitter stream and even being followed back if you think carefully about the way you approach me and what you say.

The example is pertinent because my husband got followed by DIY man the other day and decided to block him straight away. It didn’t have to be that way.

Here’s where he went wrong:

He was a logo without a name. My husband immediately decided he was being followed by a business who wanted to sell him something and not a person who wanted to share something.

He arrived without announcement. If he had attached a short hello message using the @ symbol saying who he was he might have stood a better chance.

He could have looked through my husband biography and found a shared point of interest like football and made a brief friendly comment about that.

He could have made sure that the top three tweets in his stream were all pieces of valuable advice.

When you start using Twitter for business it is really worthwhile having a brainstorming session to try to pinpoint the things people want to hear and the things they don’t. I worked with some new Twitter users at an excellent workshop run by the Success Network this week and this exercise was the most valuable thing we did.

Most people automatically reach for the sell button. But Twitter is not an appropriate place for rate cards or product specifications. It’s a place where you can look out for people to help, to add value, share advice, expertise and friendly comment.

In short, you are not looking for new customers, who might become friends. You are looking for new friends who might become customers.

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3 responses to “Are Business Users Ruining Twitter ?

  1. Your last sentence nicely sums up the whole issue, I feel. What it seems to come down to is that some salespeople/marketers/companies simply don’t understand Twitter.

    I’ve advised two companies in the last week that they need to start putting themselves in the minds of their potential followers if they want to have any sort of success on Twitter. There’s no reason why the DIY man shouldn’t be on Twitter, but his approach needs to change – it’s an old cliche, but he needs to add value to Twitter. Without it, no followers and lots of blocks!

    • Thanks for your comments Paul. I’ve been wondering whether the reason why Journalists and PR people tend to understand Twitter, where others struggle, is because it’s about selling a story, a total package. But maybe that’s another post for another day.

  2. You may be right, Lucy. It’s a mindset thing. And yes, would make a great blog post…I’ll race you! :o)

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