Does Twitter Still Work as a Social Media Channel for Business?
I love Twitter. I've been active on it since late 2008 and it's been very good to me, bringing tens of thousands of dollars in revenues to my business over the years. But as with any relationship online or off, my relationship, results, and activity with Twitter have changed significantly over the years.
So where are Twitter and I now?
Old Twitter Friends, But No New Ones?
The other day, a good Twitter friend of mine posted a picture of when a bunch of us Twitter pals got together in real life about six years ago at a conference. Six years ago! And most of us are still connected. We still occasionally tweet (or Facebook post) to each other, share each other's content, or email.
In the past week, I've also scheduled a lunch run with another local Twitter pal who I've been connected with since 2009.
I love these people and some of them have changed my work and my life... forever. After seeing that photo, I scanned through my more recent Twitter connections. Have I brought those relationships to another level, either online or off, as I did with some of these earlier connections? No. Why not?
In the early days of Twitter—Twitter's only been around since 2006—it was a much smaller pond. According to Statista, there were about 30 million users in Q1 of 2010; in Q1 of 2017, there were 328 million. That's close to 11 times the number of users. Twitter is a much more crowded and noisy space these days.
Our early tweet feeds were filled with posts to and from a smaller pool of people. So we could get more familiar with the people popping up in our feeds. Now that I follow about 7,100 tweeters and have about 6,500 followers (as of this writing), I just can't keep up. To monitor that volume of people would take all day. (Not that I wouldn't enjoy scanning the Twitterverse for the majority of the day!) But I now have to limit my social media time to just 30 minutes to avoid overwhelm and concentrate on more productive business.
Conversation Versus The Twitter Feed Headline News Crawl
But it's not just the numbers that have changed. I've found that the content on Twitter has changed, too.
In the smaller Twitter pond, tweets were conversation; today, they are updates. So my Twitter feed has gone from being a social channel to a news channel, similar to the bottom of the screen news headline crawl you see on news channels such as CNN.
While losing more social and personal connections is sad in a way, it's also provided me with an efficient way to scan the issues of concern in Twitter communities I care about.
So Is Twitter Still a Viable Social Media Channel for Business?
So do I still use Twitter for business? I sure do! But how I use it and my expectations for it have changed.
Lower Relationship Expectations. While I still tweet almost every business weekday (about 5 to 10 times at least), I don't expect that many, if any, genuine business or personal friendships will be developed. If it happens, great. If not, I realize the world has changed.
Lower Engagement Expectations. Since Twitter has become more of a news channel, I don't expect a lot of on-Twitter engagement or conversation. I'm just glad if one of my followers is kind enough to retweet (share) or like my tweets. And I monitor that sharing activity (using Hootsuite) to see what's resonating with my followers.
My News Crawl. Instead of bemoaning the loss of conversation and relationships, I've decided to embrace Twitter's news crawl aspect. I now use my Twitter platform as a content curation, content marketing, and news update platform. Sure, I'll throw in a fun tweet or two about cute dogs or Star Trek. But for the most part, it's my business' news crawl.
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© 2017 Heidi Thorne