Seven Business Lessons Learned from Twitter

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Business Lessons from TwitterFinding a happy middle ground when using Twitter can be tricky for any business. After all, there is a pretty thin line between success and failure when it comes to business in microblogging. It’s important to recognize that, through careful scrutiny, Twitter can teach very important business lessons.

Thinking should always be your first step

Hopefully, none of us make big or small business decisions without first thinking through things. Twitter is a great microcosm for this. If you have a good, strong Twitter presence, chances are it’s because you carefully think out everything you tweet. Providing value to your followers is of utmost importance, and one bad tweet could send things spiraling in a direction you may not want to go. Think of it this way: would you say the same things you tweet in a face-to-face client meeting? If you’re able to honestly answer yes, then you’re using your head.

You can’t force word-of-mouth

There are few things more annoying on Twitter than seeing tweets with “Please RT!” in them. If something is interesting enough and valuable enough to a user, they will retweet it. If you need to ask to be retweeted, it’s a red flag that there’s something missing, and chances are, it’s value that’s absent. Calls-to-action are great and all, but asking to be retweeted can be viewed as cheap. If word-of-mouth is going to happen, it’s going to happen without being asked. If it’s not going to happen, then it’s time to go back and devise another plan that will give you the virality you’re looking for.

Being overbearing will get you nowhere

Twitter is a great promotional tool, but people don’t like to be bombarded by the same messages all the time. That’s why someone invented the DVR. Using Twitter to promote your own business is fine as long as it’s in moderation. When you’re not promoting yourself, you should be promoting others. If people view you as a good source of information, they’ll begin to trust you. If they trust you, you need only to link to something from your business once before people will be clicking away at it. Be a person first and a marketer second.

Communication is key

Feedback is crucial to any business, and any business that’s not willing to experiment with social media to get that feedback just doesn’t get it. Opening up the lines of communication can really grow your business. Ask your followers for feedback and they’ll give it, sometimes more honestly than you expected. That’s OK. Take that information, whether it’s positive or negative, and decide how to use it. Just don’t sleep on it. Communication is never a one-way street.

Take calculated risks

No one has ever earned a business deal by being gun-shy. You have to be willing to take risks in order to build your business. Sometimes that means changing something you’ve done one way for a while. If something isn’t working for you on Twitter, do some brainstorming about how you can change. Maybe you change what you tweet or how often, or maybe you completely overhaul your format. Whatever it is, think through it, and don’t be afraid to take a risk.

Patience is a virtue

Building a Twitter following that is loyal to what you have to offer takes time and patience, just like building a business. If you give Twitter the time and attention it needs to grow, you’ll be amazed at the outcome. But you can’t force it. There are third-party scripts out there that can promise you tens of thousands of followers overnight, but what good is taking that step if none of those people are listening to what you have to say? Be patient and build your following from the ground up. Roll up your sleeves and dive in there. Your efforts and, most importantly, your patience will be rewarded with a following that hangs on your every tweet.

But don’t inflate your expectations

Twitter is merely a tool. It is not the end all, be all of marketing. You have to treat it that way. Don’t expect to create a Twitter profile and have the skies to open up to proclaim that all your business problems have been solved. It’s true: tweeting can be a very beneficial practice for your business, but it’s not everything. Focus your efforts in multiple directions, and understand that Twitter is just a small piece of the bigger puzzle you’re trying to put together.

Jay Adams

Jay Adams is a graduate student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University focusing on new and social media. Jay spent six years in the newspaper industry as a sports reporter before going back to school to pursue his passion of social media marketing. You can follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JayAdams70.
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