A friend recently asked me to help her demonstrate the business value of social networking (particularly Twitter) to a potential client. I started off the way any reporter might tackle the job, I tweeted the question, asking for opinions and searched Twitter for references to “business value of Twitter.”
And was promptly buried in materials to wade through. Value #1 — plenty of material. For example, USA Today had a story on how marketers use Twitter and other social networks to connect with their potential customers. @ShyAlter had a tweet which led me to his blog post about how @22tweets uses Twitter interviews to connect with its audience of entrepreneurs. Several times I’ve demonstrated to friends (especially website developers) how they can use the search function to find people looking for their particular skills. I’ve tweeted up several paying gigs for one of my friends who is a website developer (and who developed this site and MassInnovationNights.com for me.)
But using the Twitter search function, or Google, doesn’t mean you have to be a contributing member of the community. However, if you want to have people find you (Value #2) when they search for you, you do need to participate. You need to offer up your observations and expertise if you want to enhance your credibility (value #3). If you don’t have something of value to offer, no one will follow you and you’ll look more like a spambot than a valued member of a professional network.
I’ve also found my Twittering has brought me knowledge without using the search function. Last night on the #smbiz chat (small business chat) I had a good conversation (value #4) with one fellow Twitterer about the value of Stumbleupon…right before I discovered my website had been “Stumbled” and had received a 50% increase in traffic for the day. I got a primer in it and a demonstration, all in one hour.
Many companies use Twitter for customer service (value #5): I’ve seen specific instances of CS tweeting from Webex, Constant Contact, Jet Blue and my buddies over at Ipswitch in the What’s Up Gold division. They watch for their product names and jump in when someone tweets a problem, a question or even a compliment. (I had someone once equate it to cyber stalking but if someone wants to swoop in and solve my problems, stalk away.)
Then there’s the whole drive traffic/showcase what you are doing (value #6.) Anywhere between 50 and 80 percent of my websites’ traffic comes directly from Twitter and of course, I can’t measure accurately how much Twitter influences some of the direct traffic.
And, finally, one of my favorite benefits is connecting me with like-minded and local tweoples (value #7.) Twitter is really good at helping you get together with others in your area — Tweetups are great and responsible for many of my connections these days.
Tell me about the business value you’ve derived from using Twitter.