Doing (Smart) Business On Twitter

An article by Urvaksh Karkaria in the Atlanta Business Chronicle recently sparked my interest and the comment I made on his article tempted me to write a bit more about the subject of using Twitter as a business tool.

Obviously, this is a broad topic and doing business on Twitter could mean many things.  For this rambling, I would like to talk about using Twitter to promote your business or brand.

Since 2007 when I started using Twitter, I’ve seen the brave new world of life streaming evolve and watch new behaviors form naturally as would any social community.  The things we do on Twitter today, such as Retweeting, hashtags, @mentions, and more all began because someone (who know’s who?) decided they would try something new that solved a problem and it caught on after becoming socially acceptable.  For example, there was a need for Twitter users to “tag” their mini-blogs with some sort of keyword that would help their tweet be more easily “indexed” since a Twitter search engine (formerly Summize) was born.  The very nature of coming up with creative new ways in order to better communicate in a non-self serving way is grounds enough for a tipping point to occur and usher in a new trend.

Why don’t more businesses that join Twitter realize this and take the same approach?FailSpam

Many businesses have joined because someone essentially proclaimed, “There’s GOLD up in them hills!”, and so the decision maker for that business begins panning for that gold asking the nearest tech-savvy person of the office to open an account and get Tweeting.

In order to successfully conduct yourself online personally or professionally in the online social world, you must first earn the right to be self-serving. Period.

Let’s take, for example, a real life business networking gathering.  For any of you who have ever attended a business networking event, surely you have encountered at least one person that has awkwardly approached your with business card in hand and immediately started giving you “the pitch.”  This always amuses me, especially being from the south.  Some would say, the difference in doing business in the North compared to the South is that when doing business in the North you do business first and then maybe you’ll become friends where in the South you become friends first and then maybe you’ll do business.

That’s right folks, I said it.  The Twitter community and most any other social networking platform is how business is done in the South.  Can I get some support from my fellow ATLien’s?

Back to my original point…

Walking around a business networking event and throwing your “pitch” out there like a machine gun with business cards as bullets is equivalent to how I see so many businesses use Twitter to promote their brand.  Businesses that mass follow anyone just to get a follow back or repeatedly tweet self-serving messages has degraded my own experience of Twitter since I began using it.  It has a name too…

SPAM

My suggestion to any business out there that has been on Twitter or has recently joined is to try to take on the same approach that the early-adopters of this new communication platform did by trying to:

  1. Solve a problem
  2. Add value
  3. Interact with the community
  4. Spark debate
  5. Ask questions

Perhaps you have a story or an opinion about how to use Twitter to promote your business.  If so, let’s hear it.  Please comment and retweet this message, I hope to make this page a resource for some great feedback on non-spammy ways that businesses can use Twitter to promote without degrading the Twitter experience for us all.

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