Small Business Marketing

Twitter - A Valuable Business Tool

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

Twitter is the social networking site frequented by celebrities and non-celebrities alike. But does it work as a business tool? We talk to writer Roger Povey about Twitter and the value of the Tweet.

Twitter, famed for the brevity required of its users in their 140 character tweets is not just the domain of socializing for pleasure.

It's also a valuable business tool but knowing how to use it to your advantage is vital if it really is to work for you and your business.

It was Rudyard Kipling, he of Jungle Book fame, who said 'Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.' Though there is something fanciful in the quote there's no denying that words have extreme potency. In the Twitter environment where not just the amount of words, but the amount of characters, is pared down then stating anything becomes a real discipline.

On Twitter every character counts. That means each full stop (period), every comma and question mark. Writerly folk who frequent the site often find they enjoy the restriction, as it helps them hone their skills.

Characters are currency

"It's rather like an editing process," says Roger Povey, a UK writer and owner of the artists and writers network Arts for Arts Sake. "Those 140 characters are like currency, so I suppose we Twitterers are what you might call word poor. But that only makes us more conscious to spend what we do have wisely and write concise tweets that are easy to read."

A valuable business tool

Asked if he felt Twitter was a valuable business tool, Roger said, "Yes, without question and it differs from other sites which are purely business orientated. On Twitter it's very much a mixed bag, there are people who have something to promote mingling with people who just want to chat and network for pleasure."

Timing is everything

Did Roger have any advice for the businessperson on Twitter? "I'd say that the social aspect of Twitter is the important part. Business people should build up rapport with their followers before trying to sell, so to speak. Twitter is often the place people go to relax online. An ill-time business-related Tweet will be as welcome as a cold call in the evening when you're chilling out."

Promote once you are known

So timing and getting to know fellow Twitter friends is a must? "Absolutely, in my opinion it works really well that way. I've met publishers online and other writers, who I mightn't have come across otherwise. I'd say keep it subtle to start with, then by the time you are known promoting won't feel like promoting at all. And that's the best way to do business."

Include web links

What about the limitations with those 140 character Tweets? "This shouldn't be a problem for business users. They can always include a link to their website on their profile. Also, there are facilities on Twitter which allow users to write extended texts. These don't appear in full in Twitter's feed but followers can access them."

So, from Roger Povey, one who knows and is an avid Twitter fan, the lowdown is: socialize before selling and relish the fact that the restriction with characters will ultimately help you write more succinct announcements about yourself and your business.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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