Should Every Business Be on Twitter? Nope, Twitter isn’t for everyone…

A frequent question I get is “do I need to be on Twitter for my business?”  A few years ago many businesses either didn’t care about Twitter or figured it would never be relevant to business.  Both opinions turned out to be wrong and short sighted.  Now that Twitter and social media is officially cool and all the rage in big business, every business wants to be on Twitter.  But is Twitter for “every” business?

My opinion… No!  At least not in today’s present form.  I’m sure I will get comments on this post too, just like my post “Time to Euthanize Email Marketing” had some interesting comments here and on one of the LinkedIn groups.

Twitter just isn’t a fit for every business, nor does it work for every business owner or corporate culture.  I’ve seen every business imaginable flocking to Twitter in a desperate attempt to be cool and relevant.  They start tweeting away, babbling on and on, with billboard tweets about their retail store, dog walking service, hair salon, get rich quick scheme, MLM, or their latest widget…

The problem is they only see the “media” part of social media and are ignoring the social aspect of it.  They treat Twitter like free infomercial channel.  In doing this they effectively destroy any chance of Twitter working for their company and pretty much ensure they will be ignored, regardless of how many mindless Tweeps automatically follow them back.

Twitter can be absolutely amazing for businesses that are willing to be sincere and authentic about social media and truly engage the public.  In doing so they will reap the benefits of viral marketing and social media, and occasionally get called out for a misstep or screw up.  Even getting called out on a screw up is a good thing.  Better to find out quickly and fix it quickly, than to continue on blindly thinking your “brillant plan” is working just fine.  Twitter and Facebook are both very cool for keeping you close to your customers (assuming you are willing to listen).

So which businesses does Twitter make sense for?  My opinion, social media is a fit for any business where there can be a dialog with the public at large AND if you are willing to have a dialog.  I suspect many will say that is every business, but not really.  As cool as Twitter is, it just is not for every business nor is it for everybody.

I cited retail as an example of a business that may not be suited for twitter.  It actually depends on how the owner/management engages the public and uses Twitter or Facebook for that matter.  If they intend to use Twitter or Facebook for a one way electronic billboard, then they should stick to traditional media like radio, TV, and print where that belongs.  If they intend to actively interact with the public then social media, including Twitter and Facebook, are a great fit for them.

I also think there are businesses that just won’t get that much of a benefit from Twitter or social media.  I have a hard time seeing how a backhoe business, or a Port-a-Potty, business would have a huge benefit from Twitter – unless, they really focused on the social part of the media, in a networking fashion, and the business that they happen to be in is that.  Used as a networking medium social media does work for any business.

So there you have it.  Is Twitter, Facebook, and Social Media for every business?  No, but it could be if you are willing to do it right.

As always I wish you the best and brightest future,

Bill Grunau, @own_your_future

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