Twitter: Social network or marketing network?

Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends. LinkedIn is perfect  for business networking. But Twitter is an odd fish.

More than two decades of direct marketing experience means I understand the business benefits of Tweeting, even though a clear, unambiguous, healthy return on investment is still beyond most Twitter marketers. Intelligent conversion analysis is nowhere near mainstream yet. But watch this space.

From a personal perspective, I can see the benefits of using Twitter to keep in touch with friends. It’s like my favourite bit of Facebook – the status line – without all that extra irritating gumph Facebook foists on you. But very few of my friends use Twitter for social interactions. If they’re on there, it’s for social network marketing. Not for fun.

Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with stuff like Radio 4 programmes and the antics of your favourite celebrities. But that’s neither social nor business. It’s a different animal altogether. We’re left with an uneasy mix. Today’s Twitter isn’t quite social. But it isn’t quite business either.

Where’s Twitter going?

If marketers have anything to do with it, it’s set to become the planet’s biggest social network marketing phenomenon so far, packed solid with businesses selling stuff. But will consumers stick around to soak up the increasing stream of sales-led messages? Or will they defect to a gentler place where they get hassled less? Only time will tell.

Make people laugh, take notice or think

My tip for making the most of social network marketing on Twitter? Lay off the sales messages. Ditch multiple, reader-unfriendly links. Use it to inform and entertain instead, building your brand and creating an engaging, attractive, interesting and exciting personality for your business.

It’s unwise to be subjective in marketing. But the Tweets I take note of are those that make me laugh or sit up and think. The crude, badly written sales pitches leave me cold.  And I doubt I’m the only one.