Wednesday, August 19, 2009

5 observations about using Twitter for business

This post may look like heresy to people who love and enjoy Twitter. I am not slamming social networking which I consider a very valuable tool. I am blasting the idea that Twitter is the best place to do your business social networking, though. Please remember my emphasis is on BUSINESS relationships. Personal relationships are probably another issue.

I am not happy with my attempt to establish solid business relationships with other business people on Twitter. I suspect most others feel this way but am I wrong? Let me know.

I have well over 4,000 followers. I've learned that having a lot of followers does not translate into more people to talk to, or more people to do much at all. It is true that I never see the posts of most of my followers. Is that shocking? If you have a lot of followers I think you agree. If you have under 200 followers, you may be surprised.

There are three very solid relationships I have established on Twitter. In each case I had a telephone conversation with these people. I do have a few excellent relationships where I did not have a phone call, but they are far from as strong or lasting.

Here are some of my observations about Twitter for business:

1. If you find a great business link you want to rush to show it to your followers. I get that feeling all the time. I want to share it with my friends. It may be a waste of time as far as getting people to know you.

Why? Because I've clicked on hundreds of good business links and learned a ton from them, but later I have no idea who sent them on Twitter, nor do I care.

So, why do it? I guess you could argue that this makes the fabric of Twitter much richer and more valuable. I agree. There are plenty of good reasons to visit Twitter other than to sell your wares or services.

However, it makes me want to make fewer posts and also to get away from providing links since that takes a lot of time if you post a lot of them.

2. I learned that if I put an @(name) in a post, the person I am targeting will see that post.

Sometimes I post a question or observation to all of my followers. They may be "what do you think of the new Facebook app" or "Google turned over a subscriber name to a potential lawsuit. Agree?" A gal posted an answer to a question I posted generally yesterday. I knew that because I searched @calgreg .

Then I send a DM to the gal "If I had posted the question 10 minutes later, would you EVER have seen it". She said NO, PROBABLY NOT. Think about that. How many of your followers see anything you post? If they follow a lot of people the strongest chance is that they will hardly ever see your posts unless you @ them.

3. If you @ someone in your post, they will see it almost 100% of the time (at least that is true of the people that follow me). I've come to realize that people do a search for @ posts with their name in it A LOT. They use Twitter Search or another software tool to get their @ posts.

This is good to know. Let's say you find someone whose Profile strikes you and makes you want to contact them. You could @ them immediately after you follow them. That will probably get their attention and they will be more likely to follow you. Then you can DM the person. Now you have something going on.

4. Don't be a sucker to sign up and pay big money for online coaching or courses that teach you how to get a lot of followers on Twitter. Some people make their living giving these courses and selling eBooks about how to get followers. In my opinion, totally worthless. This flies in the face of a post I made many months ago when I quoted Guy Kawaski who said "If you say you don't want more followers, you are a liar." Guy may have other reasons to still want a lot of followers, but he's in a different league than you and I are, friends. He gets most of his followers, I think, without much effort.

5. My tests show that less than 2% of your followers will see any one post you make. In fact, I bet that it is only half that many since my test involved posting 8 times in one day. I'd love to see some other results if you have them.


I will push to get people to accept my phone call to them as a greeting, not to sell them anything. I will do that by sending them a DM that says something like "Let's talk and meet the old fashioned way - on the phone? Call me at 805-226-8354 or I can call you." Since I've not tested this yet I can't give you results. But I will say, if I don't get much response, I will be spending a lot less time on Twitter, for sure.

What do you think?

Greg Cryns Wordpress design and promotion at The Mighty Mo


  1. Hi Greg,
    I enjoyed this post and I'd say that your observations are pretty spot on. I have 3 Twitter accounts,.. one for my primary blog (, one in my own name, and another just started for another business based blog.
    Collectively I have just under 1,000 followers and I have noticed the same things you spoke of. It appears that I get about 1% of followers responding to tracked URL's (that's probably quite a high percentage of those that actually see the tweets). I follow about 60 people on my main account and even with such a lowly number I find I can't keep up with the endless tweet-stream (apart from DM's & @replies). The other account I follow 630 people and there's just NO WAY I can account for even 10% of what's streaming through (again DM's & @'s excepted). How then can anyone realistically follow 10,000 to 50,000? Impossible. I follow one guy who follows over 36,000 but to his credit I always get responses to DM's and @replies when I send to him (evidently the only way he sees them).
    Consistent Tweeting takes quite a bit of effort and planning I find,.. even though I do have Twitter Tools installed on my blogs,..that just allows me to remain active (if not effective). I've concluded that unless one has at least 10,000 to 30,000 followers (as some do) and an an ability to present as an almost irresistible kind of "Rock star" or guru persona, then the likelihood of generating any kind of worthwhile income from Twitter is probably (if not definitely) going to elude the vast majority of people.
    I've come to a preliminary conclusion that Twitter is on a parallel with "The King's new clothes" in as much as everyone's hyping it up for their own gain or vanity, but few are willing to shout out "hey the King is naked!"
    OK,.. cheers, & keep up the good work!
    Russell @russrave

  2. @RussRave, I love your "King's new clothes" metaphor and agree 100%.

    @calgreg, This is a great post. I believe Twitter is worthless for getting posts seen (unless you @ someone or DM them). Where it can be valuable is as part of an online set of tools. For example, we should use it to offer another way for people to connect with us (via either @'s or DMs). It scan be used the same way we use Skype, an email address, and AIM.

  3. Russ and Toby,

    I hope I did leave the impression that there are plenty of good reasons to employ Twitter. As mentioned, The Twitter Search app is something I use every day, all day long. It's better than Google for some needs.

    But, yes, what jumps out at us is that we cannot easily connect with other people on Twitter.

    I am trying to get phone conversations going via Twitter, with very little success so far.