If you judged by the reaction of some microISVs, absolutely. But Twitter is neither the Spawn of the Devil or a magic wand once waved producing millions of dollars. It’s a new communication medium, and like blogging did it will take some time before the naysayers stop grumbling and the spam artists move on.
That said, we live in a society being hugely changed by each major new innovation on the net. Anyone care to argue that Google, e-commerce or blogging is a waste of time and productivity?
New medium – new opportunities; probably more opportunities to do it wrong than right. But that applies to everything.
The point I’ve made repeatedly – and will keep making – is that Twitter used right will help your startup or microISV engage directly with more current and prospective customers. This is A Good Thing. For all the issues Twitter has (it’s down as I write this), it’s still the early days for this medium; a good time for nimble businessowners (that’s you) to get going with it before the broad mainstream does.
I and Kristen Nicole wrote The Twitter Survival Guide because in our judgment a little solid information, perspective and insight makes all the difference when making room in your business operations for a new tool. I certainly would not mind if you bought and read it, but if you sell software, it is time to get on this one way or another.
Here’s a few pointers – especially for existing microISVs – about adopting Twitter.
- Start with three accounts. Three? Yes, three: one is your personal non-customer facing account where you chat, interact, flirt, rail against and generally converse with other people. The second is your CEO twitter account (whether your company has 1 employee or 100). Use this account to respond to customer complaints, provide tech support, help people who have the problem your product solves. Lastly, you product has a twitter account, and tweets about new releases, bug fixes, blog posts of interest, etc., and is mainly a RSS+ feed if you will.
- Twitter Search is your friend. It will find the people who are talking about your product, concerned with the problem domain it addresses (whether that’s running an agricultural co-op or improving worker satisfaction or any other imaginable thing), people who just might do business with you if they knew you existed. Define and save and regularly revisit your Twitter searches, or find a service that will do this for you.
- Birds sing in the morning. Unless you want to drive yourself crazy, you already have regular times in the day when you check and process voicemail and email. Adding Twitter to those same periods works surprisingly well because you’re already in “communication mode” and squeezing in a few DMs and RTs (direct messages and retweeting tweets of value) is easy while on hold returning a call.
- Find a Twitter client that works for you, but watch for new tools. I now use Tweetie for the Mac and iPhone – they work great for me. But new Twitter tools, services and products are coming out daily: once a month do a “best Twitter client +[your OS] search just to stay in the loop.
- Find the right mix of Twitter topics to tweet, retweet and follow for your online brand. In the same way you should be focusing your company’s blog, focus your company’s micro-blog. This is particularly important once you hit the Dunbar Limit of people you follow: there’s no way to comfortably absorb all the tweets that will appear in your personal Twitter timeline. You need to focus.
- Don’t market at people, talk with people. Whether it’s pointing out a good movie (personal), steering a prospective customer to the right tool for what they want – be it yours or a competitor’s, add value to the conversation. By all means share with them about the things you’re passionate about, but listen to what they’re saying too.
Dismissing Twitter as a waste of time, useless and something you as a microISV can safely ignore is the easy way out: like most things, it all depends on how you go about it.