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To Tweet Or Not To Tweet

Published: December 27 2011

I recently attended a social media event which had several experts on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. The audience was comprised of mainly business owners in the 30 to 50 year old demographic. The general comment from the audience was, "We keep hearing how social media is important, but we are not hearing any real business reason(s) to use it and where or how do we start."

The questions from the audience were quite specific, and the answers too vague or generalized to cause the light to go on for most people. I will make an attempt here to provide you with solid reasons to start with Twitter as well as how to get started.

First off, let's establish some parameters for this article.

All comments are from a business perspective, not from a personal use of Twitter.

  • Information is Power.
  • The person(s) with the most information will make the best decisions
  • The more information that we can process effectively, the more informed our decisions are
  • Time is something most business people wish they had more of
  • Money is something most businesses want more of, every business begins with cash and usually ends due to a lack of cash

The money problem is typically related to poor decision making, as a result of or lack of time to do everything and making rushed decisions due to bad or poor information.

It goes something like this: I don't have any time to spend on getting more information to make better business decisions. Poor or lack of information leads to poor decisions that lead to cash expended inefficiently, or even lost revenue. This results in poorer cash flow, which causes you to work harder at fighting fires and reduces your time to access new information even more! It is like a slow-motion death spiral.

So the trick then is to create more time, as well as gather and process more information to make better decisions.

So where does Twitter fit into that mix? Most think Twitter is great for following movie stars, or even to shout out to the masses about sales of your product.

Let's ignore the sales value of Twitter for this article as well so that we can concentrate on one very important use of Twitter:

Twitter = Information. And I mean tons and tons of information. To some, it is information overload - even to the point where it seems to be useless and impossible to process.

How do you find the good information from the pure waste of your precious time?

We need a way to harness that information to make it useable and understandable. I will provide you some examples to consider.

I trade stocks, and with stocks, the statement "information is power", is paramount. I used to go to the following sites everyday to get my information: CNN, CNBC, Globe and Mail, Financial Post and some Canadian resource based sites. This information gathering process would consume quite a bit of my time as I needed to return to these sites to see if new information was being posted that was relevant to me. Make no mistake, I need the information from these sites to make good decisions.

Twitter allows me to follow a list of news outlets and pursue volumes of data in 1/10 of the time that it would normally take me. You can visit welcometokelowna.com/news/global_financial_news/ to see an example of this. I save time, have more information, and can make better decisions.

Another way to look at that is from a local news perspective. Let's use the Kelowna BC market again to demonstrate the effectiveness of Twitter. If I wanted to stay abreast of material being published by local media, I could visit sites like Castanet, the Kelowna Capital News, Daily Courier, CHBC or AM1150 to name some sources. This would take quite a bit time out my day, or I may just choose one of the sources as that is all the time that I can afford. If you visit this page, welcometokelowna.com/news/local_news/ you will see that all the news-media outlets have been aggregated there so that you can save time and get news from all the sources. So again, less time and more information processed. You also see different perspectives on the same story, which provides more balance.

It may take some adjusting in how you view the information. It is akin to speed reading; you are scanning the headlines for news that is important to you and only clicking on the stories that have value to you.

Okay, that should help you see how to process news better and help you to see Twitter is the best news source on the Internet, hands down.

There are many different ways to mine information that will assist you in the operation of your business. You can watch your competitors, you can look for savings, and you can source potential clients. The main thing you can do is listen. Listen to the channel that is applicable to your business and use that information to make better decisions.

You can follow a list of your suppliers and their competitors and see where there may be savings for your business. Take for example saving for your business. We discovered how to get free long distance to North America. We found that on twitter. Shaw Cable will give you free long distance to Norht America if you call in and ask for it to be added to your account. It is a new feature that they offer, but only if you know about it and call in.

Once you have mastered listening on Twitter, you can start to speak and share your company with the world.

I will leave you with this: Every tool has a better or more specific use, if you need to cut a piece of plywood, you can use a electric saw, a hand saw and even a hammer if you so choose. The electric saw is by far the most efficient use of your time and will perform the best.

The same goes for social media, use the right tool and don't try to make the tool you think you understand best fit your needs.

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