If you are Donald Trump, you can stir up quite a bit of noise with Twitter. Just 140 characters, maybe a graphic, and a suitable shortform link, and you’ll instantly reach 12.3 million (yes million) followers — let alone the others who will read your message in other media.
So getting positively (or negatively) mentioned in a Trump Twitter post — like the Chicago Tribune’s architectural critic — can either do you good, bad, or indifferent, depending on what he says and your politics/market interests.
But what does this social media do for your own business if you are among the many millions who don’t reach millions with a single post?
Adams Hudson observes in a recent post (after admitting his intern managed to get his business booted off two social media sites within a few minutes for an overly promotional message):
By all accounts, staying “active” long enough to define your Social Media groups is time consuming. (I’m bracing for the email response now, “IT IS NOT! MY BOSS WOULD BE MAD IF I SPENT MORE THAN 7 HOURS A DAY DOING IT!”) Some experts claim just “30 minutes a day,” but I ain’t buying it.
Any interruption in our ADD-prone world takes 10 minutes to refocus, so if you’re tweeting your little pecker off (bird analogy) at each twit, that’s a lot more than any 30 minutes. And going “silent” in this group is not endearing. Plus, given the parameters of the group, “marketing” to them is not nice or socially acceptable. Seems a three-time loser in productivity.
In Twitter, you get 140 characters per Tweet. (Every time I talk like this, I imagine myself wearing huge orange shoes, scanning for Sylvester the Cat.) This is scarcely what we’d call “long copy,” and without a TweetDeck (organizational tool) you’ll be mind-numbingly insane before you establish enough of a relationship to even mention what you do for a living. Snidely, you may be in the minority there anyway.
So, back to the numbers. The hours spent, the nose-time invested, the “ad aversion” mentality, message brevity and response reaction time all lead me to conclude this is a currently sorry place for B2B. For the time/productivity wasted, you could buy a radio station and get your following that way.
Twitter has its place – obviously – but do NOT consider it as anything other than a tangential media. It is really NOT for business any more than hanging out at the bar or golf course is designed for business. That may come as a long-term, profitable way to rationalize the time spent; just don’t mistake the mission.
In other words, Hudson says this is a long haul. (The relative weakness of Twitter as a marketing tool may be seen in its own market challenges — it isn’t profitable, and the “obvious” buyers (such as Google/Alphabet) are turning up their noses at the opportunity to own the social media site.)
I’ll agree with Hudson and anyone who wants to detract from Twitter’s effectiveness for architectural, engineering and construction marketing, with some qualifications.
First, it is never harmful to include some Twitter tracking and monitoring processes in your systems. If people are commenting about your business, positively or negatively, you’ll want to know about it. And if someone communicates to you through a Twitter message, you want to answer. But you don’t need to spend a whole lot of time at this in most cases, because I doubt people will care about your business enough to want to Tweet about it, unless you do something really controversial.
Second, if you happen to belong to a community that is “into” Twitter (and you’ll know if you are, because you will be there already), you may find that marketing in this space is a natural extension of your current relationships. In other words, when you are already a trusted member of the community and understand its nuances/rules, you can continue to expand your reach and speed of communication.
Third, in moderation, Twitter can be an effective content magnifying tool. That is how we use it. Posts (articles) from our various regional construction media sites are autoposted to both Twitter and Facebook. The WordPress plugin which does this takes the featured image and the headline and sets a shortlink for the content so things stay under 140 characters. (If the headline is too long, that is more than 140 characters, the post doesn’t happen.)
What happens then is interesting. If the topic/message is relevant to someone who cares about Twitter, the message is retweeted, and sometimes this happens several times, significantly expanding the original post’s reach. I’ve found this happens most often when we relay company/corporate news and the organization sends it to its own employees/followers.
Does all of this activity produce profitable business? I can’t say I’ve made any money from anyone who came to us and said “Let’s do business” because they originally learned about us on a Twitter message. However, our business is all about communication and reach, and so (for us) the more the merrier — especially if there isn’t a significant labour/time cost in acquiring the eyeballs.
Conclusion: Expect little from Twitter unless you already belong to relevant communities and your participation reflects a natural extension of your current behaviour. However, certainly it is helpful to include a Twitter autofeed in your original content posts.
These observations are an extension of my e-book on social media marketing, which you can learn about more here. If you wish, you can comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.