One of our most popular training sessions this year has been our course entitled, “Embracing Social Networking in Your Firm.” The session covers the most popular social networking technologies including LinkedIn, Facebook, and of course, Twitter. Twitter is a tool that allows people to know the answer to the question “What are you doing?”
Twitter consistently proves to elicit the greatest amount of resistance and skepticism among our audiences. Many people can’t see how this technology, where users post short updates called “tweets” that are limited to no more than 140 characters, could have a place in the business world. They hear about people sending out tweets about what they’re eating for breakfast, ranting about their pet peeves or about the fact that they’re out of milk and it makes Twitter sound like a silly, time-wasting place for sharing too much information about things that people really don’t care about.
But, while it’s true that some people use Twitter to share useless information – there are many business professionals who are figuring out how to use this very cool communications tool as part of their business strategy! In this post, I’m going to share the Top 3 Business Uses for Twitter and offer some real-life examples of people in the profession who are using it as a strategic tool.
The top 3 business uses for Twitter to consider are:
1. Demonstrating Your Knowledge and Adding Value
Part of your Twitter strategy should be to develop a group of “followers” comprised of clients, potential clients, referral sources, and potential referral sources. When you have this type of following, Twitter is the perfect place to share your knowledge, expertise, information and insight (keeping in mind that you have to be succinct with the 140 character limit in place for all updates).
Roger Philipp is a CPA exam review instructor and former Big Four auditor who goes by the Twitter name “rogercpa”. He was one of the first people I followed on Twitter and since then I have he has shared tips, tricks and a wealth of useful information such as tips for passing the CPA exam, which allows his followers to experience the kind of value that he brings to his clients.
Here’s an example of recent post by “rogercpa”: “CPA Exam Tip of the Day: Leave the research portion for last – it is worth the least amount of points so skip it first!”
I love Roger’s tweets because he is not afraid to “give away” bits of valuable information that his followers can benefit from. This is a great strategy because most people need to “test drive” the kind of value that they will receive if they decide to pay you for your services.
2. Positioning Yourself as a Source of Information
Last week, I wrote a post on business development entitled “Getting Back to the Business Development Basics.” “Networking in Your Social Sphere” was one of the three basic strategies that I discussed. Successful networking is often a long-term strategy and while contacts may not turn into leads or clients right away, you can position yourself as a source of information that people know they can look to in order to find information about your area of expertise. If you position yourself as a “go-to person,” people will think of you when a need that you can meet does arise or when they come across someone that could benefit from your services.
Twitter user Michelle Wright (aka “Wrightcpa”) is a San Francisco-based CPA who provides tax and accounting services for individuals, small businesses, estates, and trusts. You can tell by looking at a sampling of her tweets that she is using the platform to position herself as an expert and valuable source of information. Here’s one of her most recent tweets: “IRS expected to cut 401k limits to $16k for 2010.” She then links to a USA Today article with the details. This is a great example of how you can save your followers time by directing them to information they need to know, positioning yourself as a source of helpful information.
3. Driving Traffic to Your Website and/or Blog
Many Twitter users include links or URLs within their tweets. Usually these are links to other websites, blogs, or online news magazines containing content that the user thinks their followers will find valuable. Many times the links are to third-party web pages but you can include links to your own website and/or blog. Doing this will drive traffic to your sites and helps to boost your search engine rankings. Twitter is simply another way to get your message out – make it part of your marketing engine!
Stacie Clifford Kitts, an accounting and tax professional authors a blog titled “Stacie’s More Tax Tips” and uses Twitter to drive traffic to her blog. One of her recent tweets “How to Keep Good Records: More IRS Summer Tax Tips” included the title and link for her recent blog post on “How to Keep Good Records.”
Keep in mind that given the 140 character limitation for tweets, you will have to find ways to keep your tweets short and sweet, which is hard to do if you include lengthy URLs. You can use a service like TinyURL.com or bit.ly to shorten your links.
For example, the actual URL for my above referenced blog post on business development is: http://blog.convergencecoaching.com/2009/08/back-to-the-business-development-basics.html
I used TinyURL.com to shorten that URL and it gave me this link to use: http://tinyurl.com/lbk8tz
Twitter may not be for everyone but it certainly can be part of a sound social media strategy for those who choose to commit to work it with intention and consistency to produce the business results outlined in this post.
If you’re not quite ready to start actively using Twitter, consider creating an account (membership is free) and searching for people of interest that you would like to follow. This is a great way to benefit from the content that other users are posting and to get a sense for how people are using the platform.
If you’re ready to leverage the power of Twitter to build and sustain your firm – start thinking about what you have to offer to demonstrate your knowledge, build your credibility, and add value to your audience. Jot your ideas down, share them with us by commenting on this post and/or go out and “tweet” them on Twitter!
P.S. While knowledge sharing is a very applicable use of Twitter, be careful to remember that information contained in blog posts, on Twitter or other online communities are people’s opinions and are not always the “truth” or all of the facts. When following someone on Twitter or any social networking medium (including web sites), you should speak with a credible source about your particular situation to understand how the information you are receiving applies.