Twitter isn’t all it’s chocked up to be. This social network is largely big-boy territory, with too many tweets to compete with, and barely enough room in a 140 character post to saying anything that’s compelling enough to get them to click your links, which they have to do in order to learn anything further about your brand.
Here’s my list of the bigger problems for non-international brands in the Twittersphere right now (and possibly forever) – and one HUGE tip on how to solve the problems.
It’s too noisy
Twitter is 6,000 tweets per second kinda noisy. This means that to stand any sort of chance to stand out to your followers, you need to be putting in some serious tweet time! This is also just an average. One can easily expect that in some “seconds” of the day there are tens or hundreds-of-thousands of tweets occurring. Check out this live counter in real time and watch how fast the tweets climb.
Maybe Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus’ followers will scour back through each of their posts to see what sort of juicy celeb gossip they can turn up, but a tweet from “Chuck’s Ice Cream Shop” in suburban Indiana isn’t going to get many eyes put on it.
The same goes for a small niche website making money from affiliate links, or guru-wannabees looking to be the next big thing in their industry. For most businesses, you can post a tweet and watch it vanish into a sea of others within seconds.
Whether it’s K.K. or one of her family members, boyfriends, “frenemies” or outright enemies; celebs dominate Twitter. Rightly so, as the 140 character limit (which isn’t ever likely to change) is perfect for catchy headline style quote-ables.
For the average business? Not much chance you’re going to attract fresh customers unless you have Two and a Half Men alum, Ashton Kutcher, talking about how much he loves your new tech startup, or you can convince Taylor Swift to talk about the crappy service she received from your biggest competitor and how she wants her more than 53 million followers to shun said business.
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) April 24, 2015
Big brands like McDonalds, Delta Airlines, JCPenny and others have hundreds of worldwide employees (ie., multiple languages and locations) dedicated to managing their social media accounts. Twitter is no exception and they have an advantage you probably do not – they give free stuff away all the time and encourage followers and tweet reads by constantly updating followers about these free giveaways and upcoming sales. Worse, these big brands actively respond to customer service inquiries and complaints – meaning even their biggest haters are gonna follow them!
You? Well, I don’t know you. However, you not only have to earn your followers, but also keep them actively seeking out your posts, some of which will be informative and others marketing-related. Big brands are essentially part of the noise, second only to the celebrity type.
Lots of registered users are posting and not reading
Twitter claims it has 302 million active monthly users. They don’t give us much of an idea just what constitutes “active” and certainly aren’t divulging much about what’s keeping them so busy. Are these active users posting or reading?
You can’t count favorites or retweets as any proof that users are actually reading anything either. How many of us practically auto-retweet friends or followers without a care in the world what the posts are actually about?
Most of your followers are likely other marketers
Those who’re clueless about Twitter marketing (and obviously don’t watch my boy Gary V) start out their early Twitter days accumulating as many followers as they can. “Follow me and I’ll refollow immediately” is something that’s oh-so-common, and a sure sign of a desperate Twitter newbie who doesn’t understand that one day they’ll regret having a massive pool full of marketers – marketers who’ll be tweeting to build their own brand rather than reading and clicking, turning into lifetime customers!
This turns into a rather pointless marketing road to walk down. Sure, you’ll get lots of hopeful retweets and shares across other networks, but in the end you’ll find you’re following to get followers, retweeting garbage fluff to get retweets from other marketers (and to pay them back for previous retweets they’ve given) and it ends up being one big worthless cluster-hump that offers zero ROI.
Massive overseas user base
If you’re a U.S. based business, it should be noted that most (over 70%) of Twitter’s user base is located overseas. Not much to be noted here, other than if you’re local or even national, Twitter’s supposed massive multi-million-person reach is far from appealing for a local business, but a huge opportunity for a global business.
It’s very “link dependent” from a marketing standpoint
This is another point that I’ll make short-and-sweet. You have 140 characters to get them interested. Great, 5 or 6 times what a typical 25 character headline should be – not bad, right? Except instead of continuing to read what’s just below the fold, they have to actually click the link placed in your tweet, after a whopping ~20 some odd words from you to encourage them to do so!
Will they, won’t they click – who knows?
The light at the end of the tunnel
Of course, it’s not fair talking about the problems without offering potential solutions. With that said, there is one huge way to make the most of Twitter in the midst of all the problems mentioned above:
Engage prospects, clients and brands – personally
As you can see, on Twitter, most users are broadcasting. Sure, those still work, but it’s far from effective due to the noise and other problems mentioned above. There’s a way out, though: Personally engage your (potential) customers.
And yes, don’t hire an assistant to do that for you if you are using a Twitter handle as yourself. You can hire one for your brand, though – but continue at your own risk.
You see, personal engagement is typically personal Twitter accounts’ forte, but you can take it to the business level. Talk to your prospects and clients. Reply to their updates. Ask how’s their day. Thank them. Apologize to them. Rant with them.
Gary Vaynerchuk says that Twitter is the cocktail party of the Internet. He has given you the roadmap: “It (Twitter) gives people the permission to jump into conversations and (hopefully) provide value to those involved.”
Some marketers do quite well on Twitter. Obviously, I’m not suggesting you give up on it entirely. Tweet away, I say. Just don’t expect those tweets to lead to paying customers, unless you engage them personally.
Twitter is still largely the stomping grounds reserved for celebrities and big brands with big marketing budgets to attract followers. You can attract a good following, if you can offer what those major names don’t: Your time to really converse with your follower via any methods you can: Favourites, retweets, replies, and – don’t forget – incorporating videos for Twitter via Periscope.