Using Twitter for Business – some CEOs just aren’t listening.
In the online article CEOs’ Take on Twitter on BusinessWeek.com, I was surprised to see that many of these “business leaders” were missing the opportunity to learn from their customers and prospective customers. They seem to be using a two-way tool in one direction…outwards! What a waste of valuable C-suite time!
Social Networks like Twitter should be part of your marketing strategy to know your customers. Twitter can act as a market research tool and provide valuable information that CEOs of offline organizations would say is akin to speaking with your customers. If you are using Twitter for business and your following:follower ratio is significantly less than 1, you’re not fully utilizing Twitter – you’re wasting your time. As a shareholder, I would not be very happy.
Kevin Rose, of Digg fame, uses Twitter to get the news out about Digg. “…Twitter is a great way to quickly reach people.” But what about reaching out and getting feedback from people? Why not ask them how you’re doing? No point in asking those that follow you, they have already sipped the kool-aid. Ask those that are NOT following you. Ask those that are followed by others – they must have something of interest to share. In the case of Digg, find out why people use del.icio.us and what Digg can do to stay competitive and relevant as newer services arise. Tough to do when you only have a sample size of 102.
Michael Arrington of TechCrunch seems to use Twitter the same way. He is using the posts to drive traffic to TechCrunch “about 1% of our total traffic comes from twitter” he said in BusinessWeek. Again a high number of followers but only 477 that he is following. As the chief, would it not be prudent to learn from others – get an idea of trends, what non-industry folks are talking about so that you can craft a better vision for the future? What if there IS a tech crunch? If it’s all about your own industry, go to a trade show. If you want to be relevant, listen to those that determine if you are indeed relevant.
What’s with these media-types not wanting to know about their target customer? Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media uses Twitter to “pay attention to people at the edge and look for technologies that are ready to move from the edge to the mainstream…” But how do you get a pulse on what’s up and coming if you’re only following 267 people? O’Reilly quotes William Gibson who said “The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet” – I say the future is here and if you want to evenly distribute it, be receptive to learning as well as sharing.
Surprise surprise – Jack Dorsey of Twitter doesn’t even use Twitter to the max! He says “It’s the fastest and best way to get feedback on what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and what we should do next, both from users and my co–workers.” I would humbly suggest that following 334 individuals hardly provides the feedback that Twitter needs to stay on top and not lose more tweeters to alternatives like Plurk. Almost 9,000 people follow Jack – if he followed more people, he could see more of what they are posting. Things like the recently posted comment shown here is valuable market research. In this case, Jack doesn’t know Jack!
Contrast that with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. He follows 13,708 and has 11,720 followers. He reads about people loving the free shipping policy, any issues with service and even a chiropracter asking about a particular pair of shoes: “Hey Zappos, some of my patients wearing MBT shoes and thinking about these for myself http://is.gd/1ZaI Good feedback?”
Hsieh has a solid marketing strategy. He knows how to use Twitter to develop a deeper understanding of how his company is viewed and also how to work it to attract new followers. Why would you want new followers? Simple – more exposure to your brand. I recall a tweet about 5 months ago where a random follower would win 2 round trip plane tickets to Vegas, 2 nights hotel, a tour of Zappos offices, and lunch with the CEO. That’s when I started following @Zappos 🙂
Christine Perkett, CEO of PerkettPR nailed it when she said: “We’ve had the advantage of receiving ‘first mover information’—benefiting both our agency and our clients—by connecting with reporters who often tweet about what their stories are going to be before anyone else knows about them (like this one!) and analysts/influencers—some of whom have shared early insights into reports or other important information that they only offered to their Twitter followers.” BTW – Her following/follower ratio is >1 as well!
In a separate article, H&R Block’s Amy Worley, who manages Block’s Twitter program, said “I went in thinking Twitter was a free way to push our message out…Big mistake. We learned to listen”
CEOs and CEO wannabes…are you listening?
NOTE: You can follow me on Twitter and I’ll follow you!