As most of you know, Twitter is a free social media platform. Its users micro-blog everything from what they ate for lunch to news articles that they’d like others to see and share. Users express themselves in short 140 character broadcasts to designated groups of “followers” (Tweets), which can be read and passed virally through the Twitter site, mobile devices, and a number of 3rd party applications. In the last months, The Growthwire has received a lot of questions about the use of Twitter for local businesses. Most of these questions come from people who clearly see Twitter’s value as a social and a customer-service/relationship tool, but are uncertain about Twitter’s usefulness for customer acquisition.
Our honest answer is that we don’t know the answer yet.
The platform obviously has many evangelists, some of whom say it’s a great acquisition tool. We’re not entirely convinced that these anecdotes are objective or applicable to the average local business. Most of the more thoughtful discussions note that even if it does ‘work,’ it’s probably not for everyone. The most common challenges appear to be: 1) It requires a lot of work and a broader social media strategy to use effectively, 2) Its potential decreases significantly as the geography of its use narrows (i.e. global, virtual companies like Dell will get more ROI than the small brick and mortar/local market computer shop), 3) Despite all the talk and awareness, only about 11% of the US is using the service (compared to 40% for Facebook), and 4) A lot of Twitter activity is now the cultivation of mass-follower lists to facilitate spam advertising.
Maybe we’re jaded – we’ve been through several major cycles of internet hype to date… So instead of trying to tell you what’s going on, we’ll simply ask. Read on to take our one-question poll and see links where you can learn more about Twitter. Read more »