Bad Advice: Columnist Misses Point of Twitter

 In Small Business, Social Media

While waiting for my 15-year-old daughter to exhaust the rest of her allowance at the mall (with the help of a friend), I sat in the café area at Borders reading the September issue of Entrepreneur. I was pleased to come across an article entitled “The Twittering Class,” about the use of social media tools, but was flabbergasted by how far the article missed the mark.

iStock_000007328179XSmallHow many experts out there, much less regular business people, are simply missing the point of Twitter as it relates to business?

The author, Mikal E. Belicove, is a consultant, who according to the magazine byline, specializes in Web site usability and business blogging.  I’m sure he knows his stuff, but his cursory, shallow evaluation of Twitter demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of not only the potential, but also the purpose of the microblogging tool.

Belicove writes that because tweets (Twitter posts of 140 characters or fewer) have a short shelf life, they cannot replace Web sites or blogs in driving sales (half true – they can drive sales, but not in the same way).

He then says this: “Twitter is better for company announcements, spotting trends, conducting polls and posting on new products, services and in-the-moment specials…remember to include strong calls to action in your tweets.”

What? While Twitter certainly is useful for trend spotting, that advice is the fastest way to get yourself unfollowed by just about everyone. Twitter is not a sales flier. It is not a bulletin board on which to post your latest “Everything Must Go” sales event. It is not even a place to describe your services and then close with a strong call to action.

Twitter is a place to develop relationships. To contribute to the conversation. To share ideas. To be encouraged. To be social. And yes, to share with others what you do – in the mix of a conversation – just like you would do face to face.

Do you walk into a room and immediately start telling every person you see about how great your business is or how they can save 20 percent this Saturday? If you do, you shouldn’t, and if you don’t, you should show your Twitter followers the same courtesy.

The sales will most likely come if you let it happen naturally. People want to do business with people they know – not a salesman who happened to gain access to them. Give it time, listen and be a real person first, and then Twitter really can be a great tool in your sales arsenal.

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  • Sam

    Great insight Dave!