Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a question posed to me more often than ever before: should I be on Twitter?
While most seem to chirp out “Of course! C’mon! It’s fun! Everyone should be on Twitter!!!!” [notice the multiple exclamation points], my first response is generally something along the lines of:
Oh, hell no.
Because if you don’t know WHY you’re there, you can’t understand why you should stay.
Social media requires a strategy, whether you’re Suzy Sunshine looking to find fellow knitting fans or Bob the Business Owner seeking new customers.
Ask yourself right now: why are YOU on Twitter?
I research, compile and present social media strategies to a wide range of businesses throughout the year and I always enter each research stage with one assumption: this business should NOT be on Twitter. That is, unless I find evidence to the contrary. I don’t want my clients wasting their time with a social medium that is not conducive to their goals and…well…a waste of time. Establishing yourself in the social mediasphere is an investment. As I recently stated in a presentation at Chicks Who Click, you can’t have ROI without the I. If you have the choice between pissing away 15 minutes a day on Twitter and going to get a taco, go get the taco. It’ll at least leave you sated – which 15 minutes a day in the social mediasphere will NEVER, ever do.
Here are five questions to ask yourself if someone tells you that you simply MUST be on Twitter. Please kick them in the shins and then review this list. After all – it’s your time and something you can never get more of.
Question 1: What do you think Twitter is?
If you think it’s something dirty (heh – “twitter”), if you think it’s a waste of time, if you don’t know…get clarification. And here’s the shocker: the answer is different for everyone. What Twitter is to ME isn’t the same thing it is to the awesome folks over at Good Belly. Clarify and then personify.
Question 2: How much time do you have to spend on social media each day?
Social media – and especially Twitter – is SOCIAL. That implies dialogue. Interaction. And in order to interact, you have to get to know people and break the ice a bit. Way too many people treat it like a hit-and-run accident or a one night stand. Relationships are not borne from broadcast headlines and self-indulgent posts. They’re borne from connecting on a personal level with your audience and THAT takes time. It’s the I in ROI – what are you prepared to I?
Question 3: What do you expect to get out of your Twitter account?
New customers? More site traffic? Blog comments? If you don’t know before you begin, take a minute to determine what you envision to be the end result. When you know the answer to this, question 4 will quickly answer itself.
Question 4: Is your target demographic on Twitter?
I recently worked with Doyle Albee at Metzger & Associates on a social media strategy for a high profile, international brand. Our initial thoughts? Twitter? Hell yes! The end result after 5 weeks of research? Hell no. Their target demographic lived in a niche bulletin board system and not on Twitter – and there were other ways to access key bloggers for product coverage. It’s NOT for everyone and we were truly delighted to tell the client: don’t waste your time here – spend it wisely over there.
Question 5: How will Twitter integrate into your other online presences?
Blogs, Facebook Fan Pages, Tumblr accounts, online promotions…How will you integrate Twitter into these efforts as well? No online presence is an island and one needs the support of others to be the most successful possible. If you don’t know about Facebook Fan Pages (also NOT for everybody), check out this killer post from Tamar Weinberg at Techipedia on building a Facebook Fan Page. If you’re working with a social media consultant, PR firm or ad agency who’s telling you that you should be on Twitter and cannot answer that question…shit, I hope you don’t have a contract. Fire ’em.
And now to you, reader: what other questions should people ask before they dive-in face first into Twitter? Share you comments below and share with your friends so they can add their insights as well!