In the continuing series on what I’m calling “real marketing” I’m going to tackle Twitter, but first I’d like to alert you to another brief interview I did on Monique Neeley’s blog where she talks about “social style”, and I guess I have one so I hope you check that out.

I tell a lot of people that Twitter is my favorite social media platform. I like it because at any time of the day or night I can go there and talk and probably get someone to talk back to me. That doesn’t happen anywhere else, not even on Facebook with its nearly 900 million participants. It’s a lot of fun but can it really be used in a business marketing plan?

The kneejerk response is “yes”. When one puts a bit more thought into it the response modifies itself to “depends”. I tend to think that too many people have the wrong idea on how to use Twitter for business marketing purposes, and even though I don’t use it properly, I do know how to use it and which businesses would benefit most from it.

For instance, if you’re a business that sells products, you could probably do well on Twitter if people like your products. For instance, if you’re a local business that sells jewelry, and you have a following, you can easily market to those people by highlighting new jewelry, posting sales, and responding to comments anyone makes about your store or your products. If you worked in conjunction with Four Square you could probably increase your business by offering special deals to those people who have both that and Twitter.

What I tend to see more often than not, however, are folks that send out link after link after link, sometimes theirs, sometimes links from others, and never really talk to anyone. Sorry, but “thanx for the RT” isn’t communicating with others; it’s just a waste of time and adds to all the blather that many of us hate. Frankly, I don’t think that’s the best business model either, especially for small or independent businesses like mine.

To me, if one is going to market on Twitter, there has to be a mix of marketing and conversation. I think I fail in that I talk a lot, to almost anyone, but rarely is it about business. True, I’ve had some great connections, and I’m ecstatic to be connected to two of my favorite “old skool” babes, those being Mariel Hemingway and Kathy Ireland (both of whom started following me first and actually talk to me; gush!), I know that I’ll probably never do business with them.

Why is that? At a certain point, if you’re marketing on Twitter you have to aim towards a specific audience. My having only one Twitter account leaves a lot to be desired, and as I’ve said before, I’m not about to start splitting everything up now. If I were starting all over again I’d think seriously about it, and I probably would recommend it to people that offer more than one type of thing, which I do.

Also, I’m coming to believe that one might need to be willing to use more automation, something else I barely used, only using it to send out my first blog post for each of my blogs and that’s that. I’ve always felt like it would be disingenuous to post a link if I wasn’t actually online at the time to respond to someone and I’m starting to rethink that a little bit. I’m fairly available throughout the day, even late into the night, and I’m recognizing that maybe the way to maximize my messages is to get some automated help. One might need to get their own message out multiple times a day; how many is up to them.

One other way of trying to market on Twitter is to follow certain hashtags here and there. You might not find anything to comment on but every once in awhile you do, and sometimes you might even create one in your particular niche. I see so many people abusing hashtags with stupid stuff or things that aren’t within their realm; who wants to see that all day long? It’s rare that I retweet something and keep the hashtag in it; I learned a long time ago after reposting a political tweet that you never know who you’re inviting to contact you and potentially give you grief. Anyway, I temporarily follow hashtags like #healthcare, #seo, #socialmedia, see if there’s any action, and then get out.

There are many other things one can do, and things one shouldn’t do, but I think I got my main point across, which is that for some businesses Twitter would be a great way for them to market themselves, and for others some consideration needs to be taken as to just what they’re trying to do there.

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