I remember a couple of years back talking to a friend over a glass of wine about work etc. And I mentioned how useful I found twitter for our business.
‘Oh twitter’ she said. ‘Tim (her husband) is always on twitter’. Now, I followed Tim on twitter and as far as I could see, Tim was definitely NOT always on twitter. I mean, I knew he was on it because we followed each other but I never SAW him there. I checked later on the next day. Nope. he hadn’t tweeted for weeks. Clearly at this point I pondered if he was actually doing something he shouldn’t online and was covering his tracks with ‘just checking twitter darling!’
So what was he doing? (and no he wasn’t on tinder!).
It took me a while to figure this out because I was making the classic mistake of assuming that everyone thinks/ acts like I do. You see, I was using twitter to talk, to have conversations, to communicate. I was tweeting.
Tim clearly wasn’t doing any of this.
Twitter was very very useful to me. I won a LOT of new business, just by tweeting, interacting and following the right people and businesses. I ran training sessions and I worked with my clients on their twitter strategies. So I was doing it right, right? So what WAS Tim doing?
And then it struck me. Forgive me if you’ve already figured this out! he was READING twitter. That’s it, that’s all. he was predominantly using it as a way to get information, find things out, see what people thought and were saying about the things that mattered to him.
At the time I remember thinking that he was unusual, but then I noticed a pattern of other people I knew who rarely tweeted, but just followed and read. Hmm I thought, how odd.
Moving on and a couple of years on, from a business perspective I was starting to fall out of love with twitter. This platform, which had brought so much fun and genuine contact into my life was starting to feel busier as I followed more and more people but the platform was much quieter.
I would tweet and other than getting my blogs retweeted and the like (thanks for that guys!) I got less and less interaction. Questions went unanswered sometimes, which never used to happen. Tweets just seemed to go into the ether. No responses to many tweets. Not even a little tap on the like/ favourite button. What was happening? was I now BORING?! I had gone from dozens of notifications and mentions a day to a handful.
I started to conclude that maybe twitter had had its day.
I began to check twitter less. Tweet less. I wasn’t sure I could put so much energy into twitter when on the surface it seemed what I did was having so much less impact. Though I did notice that new business could often be traced to twitter and the profile I had built there. So I kept going.
And then I thought about it differently.
If I was finding the platform busy and hard to keep up with using as a conversation tool, maybe others were too. I wondered if it was possible that everyone was still there, but using it differently. What if everyone was now using twitter like Tim!
Twitter’s own statistics seem to back this up. Today, talking at Thinking Digital Conference in London, twitter’s Bruce Daisley said twitter have increased monthly active users from 320m to 800m. That’s huge. So twitter is not dying, far from it. It is growing. But the way that it is being used is changing. And we need to change the way our businesses use twitter too.
So what does this mean for business users?
- It means twitter is still a useful platform. Your customers, clients and influencers are still there.
- It means people are still reading your tweets.
- It means twitter is busier, more people following more people.
- It means that to have impact your tweets have to be as interesting, useful and timely as possible.
- It means if you want to have engagement you are going to have to be more strategic, less ad hoc and try a bit harder. You need a plan.
If you need some help with your twitter strategy I can help. I have been listed in both The Journal’s Twitterati of influential tweeters and also in Lissted’s Top Influencers of twitter in the North East Digital sector, so let’s talk. Oh and please join me on twitter @tentspitch