What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social media platform in which you send out individual posts called 'tweets' to your followers. Tweets must be no more than 140 characters, so being concise is essential on Twitter.

You can follow other people, which means that you will receive their updates in your news feed. You can also see how many followers you have, that is how many people receive your tweets in their news feed.

Twitter is becoming more popular, in business as well as socially. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of Twitter?

What are the Disadvantages of Twitter?

One of the main disadvantages of using Twitter is that there is a lot of SPAM, including people trying to send viruses and hack into your bank accounts - not good. But this disadvantage of Twitter can be eradicated by using it with caution. Don't open any messages that are just links, especially if you don't know who they are from. Certainly don't open messages that say something like 'Oh, have you seen that someone is spreading nasty rumours about you?!' Those are clear spammers and viruses.

One of the disadvantages of Twitter is that it opens up an arena for people to talk about you or your business. This includes the bad as well as the good. Sometimes, people air negativity on Twitter - don't take it too personally. Also, trolls and spammers are active on Twitter, so the negative comments that you hear or recieve may not even be a real person. The best thing to do is to have a social media strategy plan in place, with a clear plan on how to deal with criticism.

Remember that when someone tweets something negative about you, not many people will see it - only people who follow them (or both them and you if you are mentioned).  However, everyone who follows you will see your tweets, so it is important to keep them positive. Any criticism or complaint should be taken out of the social media arena - Twitter is not the place for it. If there is a complaint about you or your business, it needs to be dealt with by phone or face to face.

Twitter can be time consuming if you let it. Make sure that you plan the amount of time you are going to spend.  If you have a smartphone, you can tweet during gaps in your day. Tweet while waiting for the bus, or waiting for the kettle to boil. This means that Twitter doesn't take up any more extra time in your day, and doesn't take time away from other important tasks such as sales and accounts.

What are the Advantages of Twitter?

Twitter is great for creating a positive buzz around yourself or your brand, and it can be an easy way to get information out to your fans. Tweeting blog and website links can be a great way to increase traffic to your websites. Just remember not to overdo it on the sales front - only 20% should be promotional tweets.

Twitter is a great way to do both business to business and business to consumer marketing. If it is used properly, it will  help you to develop positive personal relationships.  Also, you can use Twitter to share advice and help people. 'Why do this for free?'  I hear you ask. The answer to that is that potential customers will come back to you when they really need something from your business in the future.

If you have a product based business, you can also send images through apps such as Twitpic. Video links such as You Tube also work really well.

Don't be afraid to ask for Retweets (please RT), but at the same time don't overdo it. If you ask for everything you tweet to be retweeted, people will just get bored.  As you use Twitter more frequently, you will find that you develop reciprocal relationship with other people and businesses, where they retweet you to their followers, and vice versa.


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The Following: Follower Ratio

When you start using Twitter, it can be tempting to simple lunge into it and follow hundreds of people. Don't be tempted to do this - it will just make you look unpopular if you follow too many people and have no-one following you!

As a general rule of thumb, go for quality over quantity. Don't engage with everyone, choose people to follow carefully. You might base who to follow on the kind of business that they are in or their location, for example.  

If you can, try to keep the amount of people you are following even with the amount of followers. Of course, many celebrities only follow a few people themselves, but have hundreds of thousands of people following them. Now that's what popularity looks like!

Twitter Search and #Hashtags

The Twitter search facility can be great for finding out what people are interested in and who might need your product or service.  If you search for what people need, e.g. 'need a tutor' or 'job hunting today', you can then send them a targeted tweet letting them know that you offer what they are looking for and can help. When my Dyson broke, I was gutted, so I tweeted about it. A nice man from Dyson tweeted me back, giving me a number to call. Then another nice man from Dyson turned up at my house to fix it. Great customer service!

By using #hashtags, you can easily search for a topic, or include #hashtags in your tweet to make what you are saying more searchable.  For example, on completing this article, I might tweet:

"What are the advantages and disadvantages of Twitter marketing? Find out here...(link) #socialmedia #marketing"

Using Hootsuite and Tweetdeck to Make Twitter Marketing Efficient

It is a good idea to plan your tweets in advance. Using an automatic tweet scheduler can help you to do this and also will allow your Twitter marketing to continue even when you are on holiday!

I recommend both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. Both of these platforms are free to use on the basic package. They are reasonably easy to use and will allow you to schedule posts over a number of social media platforms including Facebook and Linked In as well. Hootsuite is slightly more advanced in the way of monitoring and reviewing as it can produce extensive analytics reports to help you to see what is working well.

If you need training on Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, please contact me.