Will Twitter Do the Business?

June 18th, 2009 by Phil Jones

The first of two guest posts from Phil Jones, Sales and Marketing Director of technology brand Brother.

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It’s super, it’s shiny and the “twalk” of the town.  So, is Twitter just another social networking tool being hyped up by the media luvvies as a way to earn fee income in a flat market?  Or is this a new tool that business should be paying proper attention to?  If we’re to believe it, untold riches, overwhelming customer demand and speaking engagements are only 140 characters away, so should we drop everything and rush at Twitter as our economic saviour?

Show me the money….

If that’s your basic expectation – time in = money out – may I nudge you to read Seth Godin’s book Meatball Sundae or The Soul of the New Consumer by David Lewis to understand where the world is at now in terms of buyer behaviour.  It’s not about the traditional business model of instant cash, it’s about engaging in the big conversation that’s going on out there amongst your customers, then using that conversation or credibility to draw people towards your business.

Fad or Twend?

Interestingly many businesspeople I meet are simply put off by the name Twitter, arguing that it sounds silly and unserious.  The issue isn’t necessarily about Twitter; Twitter is merely the platform that allows people to “connect” up, discuss, make new contacts, share instantaneously, join tribes and interest groups, learn and push forward their contact base, in a very dynamic way.  This is a macro trend, not a fad.  The fad might be Twitter as the micro-blogging platform, in the same way that myspace was overshadowed by Facebook.  Someone else might come up with something new.  What about a business-only version called Bitter (laughs out loud)?  Google won’t  stand by for long; they’ll either acquire Twitter or do it themselves, and Twitter will dissolve into the background as the pioneer who didn’t keep up.

How does business get a “Twicket” to the party?

To the uninitiated, it can seem like there’s a big party going on that you haven’t been invited to.  However, before you rush to put your party outfit on, stop and think a minute.  Is this a party you need to be at?  Is it one you’re going to enjoy?  Are you going to go and leave early?  Are the people there your kind of people?  Are you going to turn up and then not talk to anyone?  If so, might be best not to go.  Right now, I’ve held off from a brand perspective but went with it from a personal perspective to learn it inside out.  Now I have, expect something soon.

The thing is, it is worth going if you fully understand that the world is changing as people continue to divide and divide again into interest groups, seeking like minds in an increasingly hostile and lonely society.  Web 2.0 genuinely has changed the world as we know it.  The big conversation is going on all around us in the ether, like a scene from The Matrix.  Twitter offers a way of tapping into that dynamic conversation in real time.

I would advise any business to register, create a profile and start listening.  In the early days, you don’t need to do so much talking.  After signing up, do this:

  • Type the names of people you know (customers, contacts or staff) into the “Find people” search function at the top of the screen. When you find someone you know, follow them.
  • Type your company name into the search box and see if any conversations are being had about your company or brand. Do the same for your competitors.
  • Sit back and watch it for a couple of weeks before you jump in and start Tweeting yourself. See the tone, the style, the content of what people say in your “Twittersphere”.  Authenticity is everything; people won’t want to interact with a marketing machine or automated service.

Phil Jones is Vice-President of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Sales & Marketing Director of technology brand Brother.  He writes a daily blog at http://thecorporatebubble.blogspot.com/ and can be found on Twitter @Philjones40.The second post on this subject will appear on PR Media Blog tomorrow, Friday 19th June. 

5 Responses to “Will Twitter Do the Business?”


  1. Emily Cagle Says:

    Hi,

    Enjoyed this post. Not sure if I totally agree about the future of Twitter vs Google but I guess we’ll soon have the answer with Google Wave.

    “Sit back and watch it for a couple of weeks before you jump in and start Tweeting yourself” – Absolutely agree. forcing conversations is as fruitless as it is time consuming. Those who appear comfortable on Twitter seem to have let their level of involvement develop naturally.

    Emily (@emilycagle)


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