I signed up for twitter in February of 2008, but have only recently been really studying the twitter stream. What I first observed appeared to me very unprofessional – people chatting back and forth (similar to my kids IM-ing their friends). However, I am now realizing that there are different reasons to use twitter, and each use begets a different interaction.
Here is what I have come up with.
1. Using twitter to broadcast and promote your business & brand.
2. Using twitter as a source of incredible resources in your field – for education (I love this about twitter).
3. Using twitter to network with professionals in your field.
4. Using twitter to socialize with people who share similar interests.
Some people who twitter, sign up for multiple twitter accounts – each one geared towards a different type of interaction.
Why? Because different interactions attract and repulse different followers.
Example: If I am using twitter to promote my business – linking to blog posts and helpful resources, twitting about special offers and classes, I will get followers that are interested in what I offer, and that is what they expect. If suddenly I start chatting with someone who watches American Idol, and we start chatting back and forth about our favorite contenders, the people who are following me for business information may get annoyed and unfollow quickly. Then, when I do have a great idea or product to broadcast – my potential clients aren’t with me anymore.
It makes sense, then, to have one twitter account for socializing, and one for business.
ADVISE (from the mom in me)
Keep it clean – What you twitter about is public domain, you don’t know who is listening in. It is easy to feel insulated when chatting with friends and colleagues – but keep in mind that potential clients and referrals may be reading what you write. If you don’t want to potentially damage your professional reputation, be polite, be respectful and don’t cuss.
Don’t take it personally – It is okay if the people you follow don’t follow you back. Remember that twitter is a wonderful resource for information. Keep focused on WHY you followed them in the first place, and don’t get hung up on the popularity contest.
Expand your wardrobe – If you are going to use twitter to both promote your business, and to socialize, create more than one account – just like having your work clothes for the office and your casual clothes for the coffee shop. First impressions are important.
AND BACK TO MY QUESTION…
Can twitter hurt my business? I would like some feedback on this. My take is that it won’t hurt, but it might not help if you’re not clear what you’re using it for. Right now the only draw back that I see, is that it can be addicting – and can really cut into productivity if you’re not careful.
What do you think? How does twitter effect your business? And do you have some good twitter resources to recommend? Please comment.