One of the most important lessons I learned from starting my first online business is that vanity can be costly, both in money and time.
Expensive and useless pet cars, luxurious offices that were too big, I hired too many people and caressed my ego through countless buying decisions. I had never considered myself a rake, but a recent exit from the closure of our company made me wonder …
Twitter followers don’t put dinner on your table and I’m ashamed to admit that it took me over two years to understand that.
However, money is not the only resource that requires careful preservation, and time is even more important. Few online entrepreneurs have no work to fill their waking hours, but they have to decide every day where to focus their most productive energy. It is less a question of what to do than what to avoid and there service like Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn become a threat.
Twitter, in particular, is a deceptive time theft. Your fundamental unit of success is the number of followers, the most insidious metric of vanity. To increase your number of people, start by following others and writing useful and informative tweets. You spend your time reading the contributions of your followers and visiting their links, as well as generating your own content.
If you have a digital marketing strategy, you will spend time especially researching and posting on the core issues of your business. Slowly but surely, your next one grows and you become more and more closed in Twitterverse, a prisoner of your own vanity. What is the purpose? More followers? Twitter followers don’t put dinner on your table and I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me over two years to understand that.
Me first leg in October 2009 , and since then they have sent a Tweet more than 3,500 times. Many were single-line, but others required effort, so let’s say it costs an average of a minute of my time, or about 60 hours, or 3,000 pounds in cash. If I had invested that amount of money in any other aspect of my business, I would have expected to see a return, usually in increasing sales, but I searched in vain for any measurable benefit from tweets. And if it can’t be measured, treat it better as if it didn’t exist.
Return on investment?
Compared to pay-per-click advertising, where once you’ve set up conversion tracking, you have no doubt that if a campaign pays off, the contrast is strong. Even when you advertise to generate leads rather than direct sales, it’s pretty easy to see if it works. However, for whatever reason, social networks seem to be exempt from the need to prove themselves.
A Facebook page, a Twitter account or, more recently, a Google+ presence is considered essential for any online business, but why? For many companies, it is simply because everyone else is doing it, resulting in thousands of pages that, in Bardo’s words, are “full of noise and anger. It does not mean anything «.
Social networks can be useful for certain companies for very specific purposes. I suspect that LinkedIn provides a useful channel for companies or individuals selling company-related services, although I haven’t seen any difficult data to prove it (most of the activity I see is related to looking for a job). Facebook might be useful in building a community around your business, but it hasn’t become the online shopping destination that Mark Zuckerberg would like to be. But Twitter is the real-time thief here. I’m not saying it has no value as a news service or simply for entertainment, but its concrete business benefits are minimal.
With unlimited time, there is nothing wrong with promoting your service through Twitter, but prioritizing time is one of the biggest challenges for any online business. When you’ve wasted how much time we’ve created lists, TweetDeck will constantly pour shiny, highly relevant drops of deferral juice into your eyes. Click, click, there’s another hour, an hour when I could have done something that generated cash flow.
These are the top three reasons why companies use Twitter and think that for most online businesses it is complete nonsense.
Reason 1: customer service
Joe Bloggs is not happy with your product, so send a tweet about it. You can collect this by creating a TweetDeck column that displays the results of a search on your company name. Or should you look for each of the hundreds of products in your inventory? What happens if you get the name wrong? How can you support 140 characters? What happens if someone else has the same query at a later date?
For most companies, Twitter is ridiculously ineffective for this purpose. It would be much better to add support features to your website through Zendesk or Get Satisfaction, or a customer forum, or the simplest of all a Facebook page that will allow you to interact more effectively with customers. to solve problems. Any of these will allow you to solve all customer service issues in one place, and more importantly, all of them are put in a library of frequently asked questions so that your customers can find answers without contacting you at all. .
Reason 2: Networking and generating new leads
I’m sure that occasionally a customer will initially contact a new provider via Twitter, but in my experience, most of my potential customers arrive via email. When ordering a job, I’m more likely to use a personal recommendation or a visit to the provider’s website than follow your Twitter archive. LinkedIn, with its stricter business approach, is most effective for business-to-business networks, and in most cases, Facebook works best to build relationships between a company and its consumers.
Reason 3: Advertise your business
For most online companies, the quest to create «brand awareness» is a complete waste of time and money. The general public will never know who you are, so get over it. Much more effective to focus your advertising and promotional efforts on certain products or services.
Of course, it’s easy to send a short message with a link to your product, but expect a pathetically low clickthrough rate and an even lower conversion rate. Twitter is a transient environment in which your message will be immediately wrapped and pulled downstream, unnoticed by most of your followers. Those who read your tweet are unlikely to act on it, for the same reason that buying doesn’t work on Facebook: Twitter is for social interaction, and using it to sell feels as intrusive and unpleasant as selling red roses in a pub.
Twitter is the best time when used as the virtual equivalent of a friendly push. When you identify useful information or a free resource, posting on Twitter about it is your contribution to the community, and even if the information you link to is on your own site, most Twitterers feel fair use, as long as the topic is interesting to Well, you should get a reasonable click-through rate. If you are careful, you can apply this approach to drive traffic to a landing page in hopes of capturing email addresses as long as visitors can receive the promised information without signing up.
My point is not that Twitter is useless, but that for most small online businesses, it should go a long way on your priority list. This was a difficult conclusion for me, after using the service for so long. Tracking your followers counts inflates your ego, and it was this vanity that kept me from deleting my account once I realized how useless it is as a promotional tool.
However, I’m glad I didn’t, because Twitter has evolved to offer me a completely different (and probably more valuable) service. I work exclusively from a home office, only with my wife and dog for company, so being able to deal publicly with the topic of the day is an invaluable stress reliever.
If Twitter has a benefit for most small businesses, it’s like a way to reveal the personalities of the people behind the business that require relaxed, honest and direct tweets, rather than insistent and sales-oriented ones. Looking back at my Twitter feed, I think it gives a pretty good picture of how I would like to work, so I can’t say they weren’t warned …