I’m admitting to something I never thought I would. I’ve deleted my company’s twitter account.
As a digital marketer this is a pretty bold move. After all, I am a huge believer in the power of social media to build relationships, engage customers, share content and generate sales– and I will admit there are some reasons why businesses should keep a Twitter account (I explain this at the end). First, let me explain the three reasons I deleted my business’s Twitter account.[row] [/row]
1. Lack of Real Engagement
When Twitter first started, it was similar to hanging out with friends and colleagues. People would converse and share authentically in 140 characters or less. It was a true social platform where you could get quick insights about what was happening with the people and places that mattered to you. Sure, this meant there were a lot of posts about what people’s cats were doing, but there was also something else being shared: genuine ideas, thoughts, reviews and recommendations to great places, sales, businesses, experience and news stories. The light bulb went on and media and large corporations joined in the conversation.
Suddenly the engagement started to drop. It became all about broadcasting and getting a message out…often the same message multiple times. Gary Vaynerchuk may have summed it up best when he said, “It’s a cocktail party, but nobody’s really listening, just talking.” In my opinion, this just keeps getting worse. There are simply too many people and businesses that have created a “set and forget it” schedule of Twitter content. It’s boring and unengaging. In fact, it seems the only engagement happening on Twitter is with people commenting or retweeting news stories or complaining about something a business is doing.
As a small business owner, I want a social platform where people will be a fan or an advocate of my brand. I want them to read my content (not just in 140 characters), ask meaningful questions, share experiences and offer genuine suggestions. I am lacking this on Twitter and it’s the #1 reason I said goodbye.
2. Too Time Consuming
To get the most out of Twitter, you have to spend a lot of time on the platform. As I said above, “set it and forget it” rubs people the wrong way and it looks contrived. Engaging authentically requires checking multiple times a day to see if one of the hundreds or thousands of people you’re following has said something or posted something relevant to you.
You also have to nurture relationships. You can’t expect an influencer in your niche to suddenly take notice of your promotional tweets, especially since there is so much spam and noise on Twitter for them cut through (see below about spam). You have to start reading their content first, sharing it, replying to it, and liking it so they will see you care about them first. Only then will the door open to a connection (and let me be clear, sometimes this door never opens). Once again the time involved here can be excessive, especially for a small business.
There are also businesses that set up a Twitter account because they think they should (albeit with no real clue on how they are going to leverage the platform), but then fail to take the time to share and engage regularly. Ultimately their Twitter feed goes dry and they end up doing a disservice to their business as people come to the business’s website, click on their Twitter button and see the last time they tweeted was three months ago.
My point here is that you have limited time and you have to maximize it wisely. There are many social and digital platforms where you could spend less time (and remember, time is money) and get better, more targeted results. For example, wouldn’t direct outreach via an email marketing campaign or smartly crafted piece of online content reach your target audience more effectively and efficiently?
3. Spam, Auto Replies and Bots
Twitter recently rolled out a number of changes, but unfortunately, any efforts they’ve made to combat spammers and bots are simply not working. I was spending too much time reviewing the feeds of my new followers to determine if they are real people, and then blocking them, that I would run out of time to actually tweet! The mere presence of spammers also skews the metrics of the platform. So while it may look like someone has thousands of followers, do they really, or are half of them spam accounts? Many of these spammers use automated software that generates auto-replies, so if you do follow them back, you will get a direct message with some form of linked spam. Now you’ve put your entire account at risk.
In a conversation with a colleague of mine, he had this to say about one automated software program he tried for Twitter: “I tried out this software that allowed me to scroll through and click on people who matched what I was looking for. What happened after I clicked yes was that it automatically a) favourited a bunch of their recent tweets (so they get an email about it), then one day later it followed them (they get another email), then if they followed me back, it automatically sent them a direct message (that I could A/B test for effectiveness). Using that program made me completely lose faith in Twitter because I ended up feeling like we were just a bunch of bots talking to bots. It obviously still has the potential for cool stuff too, but on a day to day basis it’s mostly garbage in, garbage out. “
Do something when you’re finished reading this: take a look at your Twitter followers and see how many followers are real people. You will be surprised.
Reasons to Hang On to Twitter
With all this said, there are some reasons why you may choose to hang on to your business account. Here’s a few to consider:
- If you have the time to properly engage with influencers who are relevant to your businesses, i.e. this could be mommy bloggers, thought leaders, food bloggers, experts, authors or even celebrities, then hang on to your account and use it to share and engage with these people — not to broadcast.
- If you have time sensitive information to provide to your client base. For example – you run a fitness business, a kids camp or a food truck and you want to tweet updates about weather, cancelled classes, or where your taco truck is parked.
- Consider polling your customer base to see if they are on Twitter. If most of them are, you should have a Twitter account.
- If you are a news agency as Twitter is excellent resource for news headlines. You can use Twitter to follow trusted news sources and keep up with what’s happening in the world and in your industry. Often this content will impact your business and it’s worth knowing about (if you are willing to check your Twitter feed a few times per day to find it).
- If you want to listen to your customers feedback, i.e. sometimes people use Twitter to complain about bad customer service. If your company doesn’t have a Twitter account you won’t be able to take the proper PR steps to deal with bad messaging and manage your reputation.
What do you think about my bold decision to delete my company’s Twitter account? I’m personally ready to move on to more efficient and effective ways to build relationships and generate sales online. How about you?