Over the last few months I have been getting into Twitter. I've been using LinkedIn
and Facebook to varying degrees and have been blogging for a number of years, so I’m not new to social media. But I was surprised by the change to my business day when I started using Twitter
Twitter doesn't seem much at first. Short messages of 140 characters from people you follow. However it does profoundly change things, some good, some bad. You better take notice though because I don’t think it’s going away. Here’s my thoughts and my mistakes so far;
- Each Social Media Site is different and has it’s place. Now when you start looking at all the different social media sites it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. However there are generally many categories of sites; business sites (linkedin, plaxo and many more...), personal sites (facebook, bebo, myspace), bookmarking sites (digg, technorati, stumbleupon etc), then you have video with YouTube and Twitter which which is just different.
- How Twitter is Different - The main difference between say LinkedIn or Facebook and Twitter is in the social group you form. Whereas LinkedIn or Facebook are groups of “friends” who have to request the links and then be approved, on Twitter you just follow people. This makes a huge difference. Just to make this clear I can follow Barack Obama, he doesn’t have to approve me as a friend, I just follow him and twitter is his outlet to his 2 million followers. My experience is that Twitter is more about influencing and spreading ideas. Not that Facebook isn’t but Twitter is becoming a place where you follow what is happening. Just as you would once rely on hearing the news on the radio now you can hear it break from your followers and interact with them as well.
- But what is really different? - It’s interesting how social media is being touted as something new, something that will revolutionise the way businesses market themselves. The reality is that social media is really leveraging word of mouth interactions. As social media and online marketing become more powerful, mass media is loosing it’s influence as channels fragment and audiences diminish. Now this is good, for too long many businesses have been able to coast and have simply relied on a well oiled mass marketing machine. Businesses have played it safe and under invested in innovation and over investment in advertising. Word of mouth and building customer loyalty are still the most important thing you can focus on in your business. What the new social media channels have done however is re-level the playing field back towards the innovators. The advantage of big is no longer as strong. That’s what’s changed.
- Be careful don’t make my mistakes! Each social channel is different. One thing that is happening with social media at the moment is the rationalising or linking that you can do between the various accounts. You can use programmes like Tweetdeck to manage various Twitter accounts and post tweets back to your Facebook account. You can also link your Facebook Pages back to Twitter accounts as well. These linkages mean that you can update in one place and have the status updated across multiple accounts and platforms. Be careful though. I recently tweeted and posted to my facebook account as well. Low and behold I had two of my facebook friends come back to with comments like “I've read and re-read your status, but for the life of me I can not understand a single word you've written”. Remember each of these communities is different and you are operating under different constraints. Where you might need to contract and abbreviate in Twitter you don’t need to in Facebook or LinkedIn the same extent. So my advice from personal experience is that you should actually write each one for the audience. Don’t take shortcuts!
So what do I do - Firstly I have to admit I’ve been spending too much time on Twitter as I’ve been “researching”. I think it’s a very useful tool to monitor what’s new what’s interesting, what’s worth reading online and a useful way to start interacting with new people. LinkedIn I find useful to keep in touch with what business contacts are up to. And Facebook is really for friends and family - I probably need to spend more time with these people in real life too!
PS - if you want to follow me
on twitter please do. I'm not quite as interesting as Barack Obama but I do try to link to some interesting business stuff!