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.

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  1. RGC Media

    Great article, well written and informative – many thanks

  2. susanyoung

    Excellent points, especially about the annoying “Please RT” and the patience needed to build trust and a following. Your last point about using different marketing platforms is key. We can't hide behind the keyboard and technology. A mix of Social Media, PR and human-to-human networking will take you far.
    Thank you for sharing your insights-great information!


  3. kellybriefworld

    Great tips! Twitter can be a really useful tool in getting your message across and promoting your brand… Of course, as with anything, there is a proper way to go about it. Being a “new technology” doesn't make it a miracle worker. That said, there is another side to using Twitter that you must consider. Twitter puts a company’s network security and privacy at risk. Some of the threats include Malware, brand hijacking, lack of control over content, among other things. Decision-makers and IT managers should check out To Block or Not. Is that the question?” here: and know the issues surrounding social media in the workplace.

  4. sneha mehta

    Yes you are right we cannot force the word of mouth , if the content is good it travels and if it is not it does not. But being consistent can take us long way..Informative post. Thank you!

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      It’s another way of saying, ‘let your words speak for themselves”.  Thanks @google-406465dcee2f05e869120a7c3b453722:disqus for your comment!

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  6. milkmen

    I love to read posts with solid advice that is void of the typical social media hype.  Your point that followers that don’t listen are pointless is spot on!  Too many people have a false sense of security about their social media accounts.  They place value on quantity (number of followers) without quality and engagement.  What a waste of time and effort.

  7. milkmen

    I love to read posts with solid advice that is void of the typical social media hype.  Your point that followers that don’t listen are pointless is spot on!  Too many people have a false sense of security about their social media accounts.  They place value on quantity (number of followers) without quality and engagement.  What a waste of time and effort.

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    The article is  written in a great way. Must appreciate it but am using twitter from the past three years but still am not getting very impressive results. Although i got more response on facebook pages and groups. I can do online chat and can interact with fans more easily.

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  10. Mike Weinraub

    I really like your common sense approach to twitter and social media in general.

  11. Kimberly R. Harris

    Enjoyed reading! 

    Thank You,

  12. Kimberly R. Harris

    Sorry, looks like I posted this twice.

  13. Radhia Benalia

    Interesting points, Jay. I like the brainstorming part; can turn into something really positive. I’d like you to read my Lessons Learned from Twitter on Human Behavior and let me know what you think 🙂

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