Twitter: The Good, The Bad and The #$%?!

Tweeting. Twitterverse. Tweeps. If the mere mention of these terms makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Despite boasting more than 500 million registered Twitter users worldwide, only about one-third of all Americans use the service. And according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, even CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are reluctant to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. So if the rich and successful business man doesn’t use Twitter to promote his company, why should you?

The answer is simple.  And in this case, it comes in the form of a question from someone far more qualified than I am to speak on the subject. In the above-referenced WSJ article, management professor and former CEO Bill George asks,

“Can you think of a more cost-effective way of getting to your customers and employees?”

Considering all the social media channels at our disposal and the relative cost of each, I think George’s question should have more businesses asking, “Where do we sign up?”

Twitter is only one platform for growing your business network, but I recommend it to all of my clients because it is free, offers an enormous audience, and, in most cases, puts your business ahead of the curve in terms of social media presence. Businesses in my consulting demographic truly need to use as many social media sites as possible because they are targeting American tourists with smart phones who are connected to social media 24/7.

And now, my personal rant (a.k.a. The Bad Side).

I recently experienced a moment of panic when my shiny new Twitter account was suspended just a few days after I opened it. I could not believe my ability to connect with the world could be taken away without notice and seemingly without reason. After several minutes of frantic Googling to find a solution, I contacted Twitter via their appeals process.  Surprisingly, someone replied to me very quickly with a verdict. My crime?  An “aggressive following pattern.” Sheesh. More on that a little later. The moderator who replied to me promised after I pledged to stop violating their policies my account would be restored within the hour. It was about 24 hours before I could use my account again, but upon logging in I was relieved to find  everything just as I had left it.

Which brings me to the negative. Twitter is a third-party service that can decide on a whim to shut down or suspend your account. My violation of their terms consisted of sitting down on my couch one Sunday morning and following a number of businesses in the region I will be visiting shortly. I thought I was doing myself a favor and building a legitimate Twitter feed.  They called it “annoying other users.” Then, as I mentioned, they called me aggressive–a term I take offense to when used to describe me anywhere outside of my coed softball league.

This story has two morals: If we want to win at marketing with Twitter, then we have to play by their rules. Even if sometimes those rules are vague and subjective.

The other moral of the story? Sometimes Twitter sucks. And that’s just part of life in the 21st century.

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