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Does Twitter Still Work as a Social Media Channel for Business?

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker with over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, advertising, and public relations.

Twitter can be useful for business, despite all the chatter.

Twitter can be useful for business, despite all the chatter.

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Heidi Thorne

Comments

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 30, 2019:

You're so right, Zia! Twitter is just overwhelming now. I'm getting better conversation on Instagram and Facebook Groups these days.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! Good luck with your research!

Zia Uddin from UK on April 29, 2019:

Good read on your twitter hub. You're right about Twitter turning into a news channel, it is actually the media who are benefitting from digital marketing and they're the ones making the most money. The problem now is that there are over 300,000 tweets being posted in a minute and it is very difficult to attract the right customers to your brand. I'm also doing research on this stuff on social media and how it enhances business. It is way too hard with all this fierce competition.

Even socializing on Twitter is almost dead and boring as if no one cares what you post, all you get is page impressions without anyone actually clicking on your content or replying to a tweet unless you're a famous person who is verified.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on August 15, 2017:

Hi vocalcoach! You're not alone in the way you use Twitter these days. But at least you do keep a presence there. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience! Have a great day!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on August 14, 2017:

I probably don't participate as much as I should on Twitter. I use it mostly for business but I haven't seen much action for the last 7 years. :) Now I just post hubs - mine and my hub buddies. Good article and thanks.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on August 12, 2017:

Hi Lawrence! Glad to see that you've made a conscious choice about your Twitter adventure... and found it's not ideal for you. That is truly in your best interest and that of your followers. Be where you can be happy and willing to participate. Thank you for sharing your Twitter experience with us! Have a great weekend!

Lawrence Hebb on August 11, 2017:

Heidi

Thank you for the info here, I've used Twitter some, but never really enjoyed it much.

Good for newsfeed, but as I don't have a lot of time to spend there I tend not to use it much.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 20, 2017:

Blond, agreed, Twitter does have a pretty steep learning curve. I went through it, too! And, yes, like for everything else online, it's change or perish.

I would definitely encourage you to check out Hootsuite. I've been using it since about 2009 and it does make the Twitter game more efficient. I'm STILL using the free version. The paid versions of it are best for those that have a lot of social media activity and need more detailed analytics. Hootsuite, too, has a bit of a learning curve. So take your time and experiment to see if it's a good fit for you.

Thank you so much for stopping by and joining the conversation! Have a beautiful day!

Mary Wickison from Brazil on July 20, 2017:

I've just started Twitter for mainly my book cover designs. It has changed since I first began using it and even then, I never felt I had the knack for it or was using it to anywhere near its full potential.

It is interesting to read how you have changed your strategy for using it. Everything is evolving and if we don't as well, we'll go the way of the dinosaurs.

I'll sign up for Hootsuite, it sounds like it will make everything more efficient.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 15, 2017:

Hello Venkatachari! Glad to see you're using Twitter. As long as your strategy works for you, keep going! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Have a beautiful weekend!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 15, 2017:

I am on twitter for more than 5 years. I follow 425 people whereas having only 115 followers. I have 1970 tweets to my credit. I shared my articles only once or twice till now. I use it mostly for sharing my comments on news articles or for sharing others' works.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 14, 2017:

Flourish, I have seen a definite increase in distance with my social tribes, except for maybe here on HP. Sounds like those "people" (?) on other platforms are now using them as news channels, kind of like I am. But, you're right to wonder if there is a human behind the avatar. With all the discussion about AI now assuming writing duties, it wouldn't surprise me if it was a bot. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts! Happy Weekend!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on July 14, 2017:

Billybuc, you're not alone! A lot of people, including myself, are reevaluating participation on all social media channels. I love Twitter. But as the article explains, I've had to do some "loving it and leaving it" with it. For me, Facebook is starting to get some traction and, of all things, Pinterest. Go figure. But without constant monitoring and assessment, I'd be spinning my wheels. Thanks for sharing your side of the social equation! Happy Weekend!

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 14, 2017:

The more connected we become with technology it seems like the shallower those connections become. There are people I follow on other platforms who post good content but share nothin of themselves and I wonder if it's a person I'm following.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 14, 2017:

Sheez, I don't know if it does or doesn't. I really don't do Twitter much. I share articles of friends on Twitter because they use it but me, personally, not so much. That's the long way of saying thanks for your insights.