It’s time to reassess Twitter. Is it a conversation or just another channel in the communications tool box? What’s the value proposition today? Has it evolved for the better or what? I’m looking for your help in answering those questions.
For those of us in the trenches; e.g. conveying to busy (or non-busy for that matter) clients that the value of Twitter is found in having conversations on topics that interest mutual parties, the real test is in not simply “suggesting” that there IS value, but rather being able to help them make that happen. And, before that can happen they want to know what kind of return on their investment they can expect. That’s a little more challenging to explain, especially when there are so few examples and my own numbers don’t really add up.
Twitter By the Numbers
Indulge me in more personal terms. I am turning the corner on my second anniversary of participating on Twitter (20 months). I have 473 followers; I follow 437 people, 14 listed. (I could have more, but I have plenty of excuses why I do not.) I have 650 Tweets and 140 direct messages. There are pages of retweets of my stuff by others but to get that number I’d have to count the @jaynenavarre Tweets and that’s tedious. I’m lousy at math so I won’t even attempt to calculate the numbers specifically. But, generally speaking, considering the number of Tweets and DM’s over 20 months, my exposure has been 39.5 times a month. Multiply that by the 473 followers and the number of times my Tweets have been retweeted by them to their networks that expand beyond my own tiny one and that’s significant exposure; certainly more than I could ever hope for in the bricks and mortar world. What’s not to like?
Exposure vs. Conversations
Well, taking all that exposure into consideration, the only “conversations” I’ve had on Twitter can be counted on my fingers and toes. Except for the DM’s that are primarily between people I have met personally and have their email address where Twitter just adds another layer in those conversations, my live conversations on Twitter are RARE.
With one caveat. Twice in those two years I have had “rock star” contact. Once with Shel Israel talking about his book Twitterville and once with Jason Calacanis. Both are now following me (and thousands of others) But they never talk to me anymore. 🙁
Calacanis, being the most coveted follower, elicited this “email” to my friend (Heather Milligan of the Legal Watercooler) about the big day….
WaHOO! I’m in the big leagues now, baby…JC is following me on Twitter. Note below he has 77694 followers and is only following 1757! Them are some sweet odds. I sent a Tweet @jason about the Murdock may kill Google thing. It caught his attention. Waiting for his reply/discussion. 🙂
I’m still waiting. (No disrespect to Jason he has added a significant dimension to my perspectives via his email blasts on various issues and he’s a busy guy.)
Through Twitter I have met a half dozen very interesting attorneys and a few new marketing professionals that have taken the time to have a non-DM conversation once or twice. Socially and professionally speaking those contacts are worth the 9100 characters I’ve typed over the last 20 months. From a business development perspective, I have no idea what my followers think of me, but I can assure you that I cannot directly link my Twitter investment to the growth of my business. And that’s where I need your help!!!!! No more soft stuff. I need the FACTS. Are you having conversations on Twitter? Where are they going? What is your time worth? Is it okay just to be social for social sake? Is that the value prop?
The Evolution of Twitter
In the beginning it really was a potential conversation, but currently, at least for me, my Twitter stream has evolved into an article-sharing database, a customer service outlet (I go there first when I need help with Comcast, Wachovia, Best Buy, or Apple) and a way to keep up with the news. As an article-sharing database it sort of, but not really, replaces Delicious, the social bookmarking site that I use to search for recommended web reading. As a customer service call to Comcast, it really rocks! You wouldn’t believe it. They are all over it when you Tweet something serious about their performance. (Reputation management!)
In my view, beyond the touchy feely—let’s get engaged, be transparent and collaborate rationale (Don’t get me wrong, I love social media and think Twitter is valuable subject to individual interpretation) Twitter has two aspects that dominate and make it hard to pin down.
- It is very serendipitous. I can’t read every tweet and I can’t keep up with the public time line. So, it’s kind of like closing your eyes and pinning the tail on the donkey. When I go to Twitter, I open my eyes and see what I’ve pinned. E.g. I browse the latest Tweets in my stream and happen upon random information, but rarely conversation. Sometimes I comment. (Lists are an improvement but they’re still a bit awkward.)
- Got conversation? (Granted, this may be my fault as I struggle with work and social balance.) I see a lot of pushing articles, pushing blog posts, products, giveaways, and news. (This is not a bad thing, just another channel and may be where it’s evolving.) Recently I re-tweeted a provocative post by John Cass, a blogger whom I do not know. Apparently he’s a really popular bloger and has thousands of followers. He direct messaged me asking me to add any thoughts as a response. That’s the right spirit and I’d certainly be smart to engage in that conversation, but at the time I found it I was swamped with work. Going back in to find it and connect my thoughts may be a bit of work. (He is a new follower of my Tweets though so who knows?) Ergo, you get back what you put in.
How can I, in all honesty, recommend to a client something that I can’t do myself? There’s probably a simple answer to that, only I’m too nearsighted. I need your help.
When is the last time you had a beneficial discussion/conversation on Twitter? I’m sure you have. If you can share some tips or stats on your actual experiences that would be helpful for me. Or, are you just using it to PUSH information? That’s not a bad thing, per se. But, is the purpose of Twitter changing? What is Twitter, really?