Twitter is my favorite social media platform. It’s where I get the most up-to-date information on events that news sites will take hours to post about. It’s a unique platform where you can “watch” a popular TV series or a presidential debate with millions of diverse individuals and feel like you’re all in the same room, having a conversation. It’s a place to connect with brands, celebrities or authors that you’d never have the chance to talk to regularly. And, most importantly I think, it is a platform where minority voices have a chance to be heard and social justice issues can come to the forefront, causing real change.
That said, Twitter has been having a lot of ups and downs lately. If you’ve been monitoring it, you’ll know that Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter, and current CEO of Square, has retaken the top position at Twitter to help the organization clarify its mission (is it a news site? Is it a social media site? Is it simply a place to post adorable baby animal photos?). The popular site has around 3 million users, but it is lagging in growth when compared to other social media platforms like Instagram.
According to Chris Sacca, an early investor in Twitter, over 1 billion people have signed up for Twitter and then immediately left. Why did all those users sign up then leave this platform that is so engaging? There are many reasons, but today I want to focus on why small business owners may have left the platform.
It Appears Complicated
I get it, Twitter is a fast-paced platform. You work hard to craft a clever, concise tweet and hit the button to post, then you have a millisecond before it’s buried under a torrent of tweets. If Facebook is a gentle summer stream, Twitter is an unholy flood.
Then there’s the 140-character limit. What can be said in 140 characters? Apparently, an entire short story. But you won’t be doing that! You’ll be connecting with your customers and sharing your content. You don’t have to be a wordsmith, you just have to be concise and keep the tone of your business (hopefully, that’s a friendly tone). While some say you should never delete a tweet (but keep it and apologize instead), a small business can most likely get rid of a mis-tweet without any deleterious effects.
You Have to Tweet Constantly
Sure, an engaged Twitter account is a great one, but like Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins said, ain’t nobody got time for that. You have a business to run! The secret is that the greatest, most involved accounts use management platforms like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Buffer or IFTTT (If This, Then That) to schedule and regulate their flow of tweets. You will still have to get on regularly to communicate with your customers, but if you have a smartphone it only takes a few seconds to respond.
You Don’t Know Who to Follow
Here’s a way Twitter is not like Facebook, you can follow people and they don’t have to follow you back. Or they can follow you and you don’t have to follow them back. That’s how relationships work over in the Twitterverse. If you’re at a loss, start following local businesses you respect and admire. Watch how they interact with their customers. If you get some followers, be nice and follow them back. You can always go back later and assess who you want to follow/unfollow or just mute them.
People Might Say Something Mean
It’s true, customers can sometimes say negative things when you’ve only done your best to help them. But if a customer says something negative on Twitter and you aren’t on there, you are missing a chance to make the situation better.
On the flipside, if you receive public criticism and go all Chernobyl on the dissatisfied customer, you will lose. You’re the “adult” in this situation, you can’t afford to lose your cool and make a jerk of yourself and your business in public, online where the internet is forever. Always take it offline, offer to call them or have them visit your location so you can work it out.
Those are just a few of the reasons why Twitter can be daunting to businesses, but it really doesn’t have to be. With time, Twitter can turn into a fun, even addictive activity, I swear. It can also turn into a place where your customers go to talk with you, see what the personality is behind the business and feel like a part of your community. If Twitter is something that will work for your small business, I hope you’ll join the fray.
Twitter for Small Business Starting Point
Not sure how to get started with twitter or other social media platforms? Check out our upcoming seminar or webinar on this topic.