Twitter is Not a Broadcast Medium

Conversation only please

There’s been a recent influx of new people using Twitter especially from the marketing sector. That’s great! It’s a wonderful social media tool and has many advantages that can be exploited for marketing. Unfortunately using it as a pure broadcasting medium isn’t one of them.

Look up the word conversation in the dictionary and you really should see a mention of Twitter. In fact you should see the entire gamut of social media tools listed because that’s what social media is all about: conversation. And as with all conversations you have to give a little to get a little. It’s a two-way street. Not one way.

If you’re using Twitter to merely broadcast details about your products, or banally telling us what you’re doing today – like it’s a schedule diary – and never responding to other Twitter users comments then not only are you using it wrong, you’re missing out on some of the key advantages. Where else can you get real time updates about what people are saying about your brand? Where else can you immediately and directly respond to problems and miscommunications? For a CEO that wants to know what’s happening out amongst the Barbarians then Twitter provides the answers. All you need do is ask. And be asked in return, just as Ford’s CEO, Alan Mulally, was today.

One of the other key benefits is that it allows you to mix with people you normally don’t have access to. It’s a great means of networking. In fact there are actually quite a few celebrities using Twitter (from the political, business and entertainment worlds). However many of their tweets resemble theses:

Off to Azerbaijan today to feed the homeless monkeys.


Appeared on morning television show to talk about my new book *wink* wink* – -subliminal message – BUY IT!

Now, you maybe very interested in the plight of the homeless monkeys or even the new book, but wouldn’t you rather talk to the celebrity about that rather than just being told? Twitter is not for the passive. You need to be active. Involved.

One celebrity that seriously understands Twitter is actor Stephen Fry. He has a lot of followers – most celebs do – but notice that he’s almost following as many people himself. Some celebs are following nobody. It’s like they don’t want to hear what others are saying. But in all truth it’s not the numbers that are important. What sets Mr Fry out from most of the others is that he responds. He muses, asks questions, chats, answers questions. Wil Wheaton, who only follows a handful (remember numbers aren’t important), does too. They’re both having conversations with people and that’s what it’s all about. As a marketer who is new to Twitter, you need to learn to have conversations too. Go on, it’s not hard =). Start by talking about philosophers <--- Monty Python reference.

Celebrities will naturally attract oodles of followers, but in all likelihood, you don’t have the advantage of being famous world wide. You need to woo your audience. Romance them. Ask questions. Be asked in return. Joke around. But most of all have fun. Just don’t have too much fun. Twitter is a public -and searchable – medium after all. You don’t want your tweets to come back to haunt you.

Twitter is not a tool for the didactic. Blogs are better social media tools for that. Just look at how didiactic I’m being here =). Like video, Twitter is a show not a tell medium. It allows you the opportunity to meet new people and socialise with them. To join a massive network of friends and associates from all walks of life. And as we all know, the best marketing opportunities come from the people you know.

About the Author: skribe

Based in Perth, Australia, Antonio Barimen (aka skribe) is a writer, digital media consultant and social media producer.

He is available to help you develop social marketing and digital media strategies, improving communication between staff, partners and suppliers or just increasing the number of fans on Facebook. He has developed successful digital and social media projects for clients including CBS, Evian, Procter & Gamble, Discovery Networks, Pernod Ricard and American Express.

Connect with him on Twitter or Google Plus.
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Post Under Advice, Marketing, Social Media December 17, 2008

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