Is Twitter really worth my time as a marketing tool?

QUESTION:

I run a tech startup that does online inventory management. Does it really make sense for my company to use Twitter as a marketing tool? It seems like a lot of work to be tweeting all the time, and would anyone really care? Would they even read my tweets? And even if they did, would it translate into business? Bottom line is that I think my time could be better spent on building my business, or am I missing something?

ANSWER:

Steve Hoffman

Captain Hoff

by Steve Hoffman, Cofounders of Founders Space

Twitter is great for marketing and communicating if you’re a movie star or politician. It also works nicely if you provide content and want to syndicate links. Traditional media companies, content sites, bloggers and news organizations are using Twitter successfully. In fact, we use it at Founders Space.

That said, I doubt it’s going to do much for you. It does require a big investment in time, unless you can automate it to work with your blog’s RSS feed, etc… And you have to ask yourself, “Would I want to get that Twitter feed?” If the answer is “No,” then don’t waste your time. You can use your time and energy much more productively by focusing on the things that really drive your business, rather than a hard to quantify, trendy marketing channel like Twitter.

One more note, I helped cofound Tap11.com, which now does advanced Twitter analytics and CRM for businesses. If you do decide to go with Twitter, you should definitely use Tap11.com or another company like them. You’ll need the analytics and tools that they provide.

I hope this helps.

ADDITIONAL ANSWER:

Alex Salkever

Alex Salkever

by Alex Salkever, Journalist & Marketing Executive

Hoff makes pretty good points above and I mostly agree with him. That said, Twitter can be a useful tool for B2B given the following circumstances.

1) You can identify an online community of Twitter users who specifically tweet about the topics/products you want to sell into.

2) You can use Twitter as a way to point those people more readily to new content you create or find that is highly relevant to their area

3) You can contribute to ongoing conversations (without being too salesy) about key topics germaine to your sector and help other people in the community with your short-character insights
PageOnePR, for example, specializes in using Twitter / Social Media for enterprise / open-source software companies. (Full disclosure — CEO Lonn Johnston is a friend but I have no financial dealings with him and am not a customer). Mind you, Twitter for B2B will not create tens of thousands of followers. More like a few hundred or a few thousands, in most cases. But those can be useful people to have a conversation with as they are likely industry alpha adopters.

4) Lastly, to Hoff’s point, at a minimum run some sort of back-of-the-envelope Twitter analytics program *if* you are putting serious time and effort into using it as a marketing tool. Hope this helps!

Comments & Advice:
  1. Alex Horton says:

    Very Interesting article,

    If you are considering social media at a strategic level, I would like to make a clear distinction between Facebook and Twitter, as the way users engage with them is distinctly different.

    Personally I see Twitter as more appropriate for business dialogue as it allows a steady and simple dialogue for either B2B or B2C. I see Facebook as more appropriate for a brand awareness campaign or specific marketing related activity.

    Here is some interesting figures from a report by Econsultancy on both Facebook and Twitter, hope you find them useful!

    Facebook:

    – Use of Facebook as a customer feedback loop is lower down the list, with just under a third of companies (32%) using Facebook to gather feedback, and 25% using it to react to customer service issues and enquiries.

    – The average session time for a user visiting Facebook is 27 minutes and 12 seconds.

    Twitter:

    – Micro-blogging (i.e. Twitter) is now the most widely adopted social media tactic, used by 78% of company respondents and 74% of agency clients.

    – The majority of organisations (62%) are using Twitter for publicising new content.
    Approximately half are using Twitter for marketing (54%) or brand monitoring (47%).

    All statistics taken from Econsultancy’s Social Media Statistics Report: http://ecly.co/cNu4uP

  2. Haywood Jablome says:

    It’s all pretty much a waste of time once everyone is inundated with it as e-mail has become.

  3. Ovais Mirza says:

    Twitter marketing seems to be effective only if use it appropriately and the tools mentioned here are of great significance. It is very important for us to manage our twitter accounts through these tools mentioned above if we really want to boost up our social media campaigns.

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