To Tweet Or Not To Tweet: What’s The Question?
Twitter (www.twitter.com) has a bad rap. Most of us think of it as a platform that celebrities use to share meaningless information about their most recent meal or to promote their latest product. But the application has unbelievable power and reach – all at your fingertips and free of charge that it is foolish to dismiss it. In this blog, I’ll share five of the important Twitter benefits I’ve experienced since my foray into tweeting (the Twitter term for posting content) in early 2009.
- A fast and free news source. Even if you don’t want to post any tweets on Twitter, you can still establish a free account and subscribe (or “follow” which is the Twitter term for subscribing to another user’s tweets) to various news outlets, associations and publications in the industries, specialties and other interests you follow. I focus my Twitter usage in five areas: accounting, leadership, marketing, social media and personal development. I subscribe to the Journal of Accountancy (@AICPA_JofA), Accounting Today (@AccountingToday), various state society associations (a few include @GSCPA, @IllinoisCPA), and a variety of social media news resources including Mashable (@mashable). Often, I follow links to new articles that are tweeted and I read them online. When the paper publications shows up at my office, I have frequently already read a good portion of the news they contain – sometimes weeks earlier! How much better are you when you can receive important news and information instantaneously? How much better are your competitors if they access accounting news weeks before you do?
- A great place to connect with people outside your normal networking circles but still inside your target focus. Twitter has allowed me to connect with many great leadership experts outside of the accounting profession including @LeadToday, @Leadershipfreak, @mikehenrysr, and @DennyCoates. It also brings me into “conversation” with some of our country’s best business leadership gurus including Tom Peters and Stephen R. Covey. I have met scores of CPAs using the platform and keep a private list of over 300 to whom I’m directly connected. The “list” functionality of Twitter allows me to segregate the users that I follow and then I can “visit” my lists and see what the members of each group have had to say without being overwhelmed by the many tweets that the sum total of 2,669 accounts that I follow are sending. How many conferences around the world would I have to attend to meet the nearly 2,700 different people that I follow – and at what cost?
- A free place to share news and content with your followers. Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, so Twitter forces its users to be brief and creative. You can attach links to your tweets to expand the information you share with your followers. The Twitter posts or tweets that most users appreciate are those that add value to them. Ideal tweets share news, provide important tips, further ideas, share articles or blogs of value, include quotes from others, invite followers to events and generally seek to enhance the tweet reader’s lives. While it is fine to tweet the occasional service promotion, followers do not appreciate being “sold” continuously and they will abandon accounts that to not add value to their Twitter experience. I can publish important information about our firm or post content we’ve developed on our blog to nearly 2,500 people in accounting, leadership, marketing, social media and personal development who are following me with a few key strokes and one click for free using a very cool, self-updating communications database called Twitter. How many of you have those capabilities with the databases in your firm?
- A platform on which you can position a “famous person” in your firm, develop a niche following or further your firm’s brand. When your content is of value, people will begin to follow you. There are all sorts of payment-based tools to help you get followers more quickly, but they are rarely of quality followers within your target focus. Instead, I have built my following of nearly 2,500 (I hope to surpass that number this week) organically, a few followers at a time, which requires patience but is considered to be the best way to cultivate a quality “list” to communicate with and “listen” to. When I post things other users find valuable, they “retweet” my posts or they may recommend me as an account to follow to their followers. This kind of grassroots Twitter “word of mouth” allows my communications to reach into entirely new spheres of influence. What is the value of being referred to new networks and promoted as someone who adds value to those in your sphere of influence?
- Not time consuming. I tweet an average of 100 times per month, or about 3 times a day. I do most of my tweeting in the evenings or on weekends, but I occasionally tweet during the business day. I currently average 30 minutes a week managing my Twitter presence. According to Klout (www.klout.com), I actively influence over 300 people as a result of my Twitter activity and this influence is measured by my ability to get those people to act on something I post by clicking on a link, or retweeting or sharing my content. So, for an investment of 30 minutes a week and no hard dollars, I have the ability to motivate over 300 people to take some kind of online action. How much do you spend on e-mail campaigns or hard copy mailings to get news and information out? Could it reach as many as quickly?
I realize that it is hard to imagine investing any more time on anything. I hear you! But you are likely reading news to keep up with your profession and target subjects – get it via Twitter faster and free. Then, as you realize how easy that is, you may want to make the foray into posting content. Or, you may want to assign someone on your team who already manages other communications to post content on Twitter for the firm. You’ll be surprised by the connections, reach and impact you can have!
P.S. I’ll be teaching an online web seminar on Twitter on Tuesday, February 7 at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT. If you’re now motivated enough to get going but want some online education and a demonstration of the uses of the platform, you can register at www.convergencelearning.com.