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What is Twitter?

Question: “So what is twitter, I signed up tonight, is it just a spin off of myspace and facebook but with a business twist?”

Author: Jeremy Harrison

March 4, 2009

My younger sister is quite an entrepreneur. She emailed me last night, asking a question I’ve heard a lot of people ask recently.

“So what is twitter, I signed up tonight, is it just a spin off of myspace and facebook but with a business twist?”

I know that she’s looking to leverage Twitter to help her grow her business — she’s a Mary Kay Consultant. Here’s my response:

Hi Kaylene,

First off… a disclaimer.

I don’t use Twitter the way I should. I’ll tell you what you OUGHT to do to get results from Twitter, but I’m a big hypocrite because I haven’t done much of this at all. But I’ve seen many people be successful with it, quickly building up followings that allow them to subtly promote their products. This advice is based on how I’ve observed it being used with success.

Twitter is a completely different animal from MySpace and Facebook. If used the same way, you’ll be disappointed. After all, the only thing you post on Twitter are 140-character text updates about what you’re doing. No photos. No videos. No IQ tests. 🙂

However, the rules are a lot different on Twitter, and some of the differences give marketers a real advantage. Here are the differences that can benefit you:

  1. Unlike “friends” on Facebook or MySpace, which must be approved by both parties, anybody can follow you on Twitter. Likewise, you can follow anybody. The advantage is that you can quickly build up a “following” on twitter. Then whenever you post an update, all of your followers will see it.
  2. It’s common to follow (and be followed by) perfect strangers on Twitter. This difference gives you a marketing advantage. If you want to grow your following, it’s a good idea to follow anybody who follows you. Also, follow anybody who fits your audience — many of them will follow you back. Wondering how to find people to follow? See #3 below.
  3. You can do some really powerful searches on Twitter. Since you sell Mary Kay, you can find out who’s talking about Mary Kay on Twitter at any given moment: https://twitter.com/search?q=mary%20kay 

    This gives you the opportunity to follow them, to get their honest impressions about your products, and to learn from others who are using Twitter to promote themselves. Or, try a search like this one: https://twitter.com/search?q=I%20need%20a%20job

    Here you’ll find all the women that might make good prospects to sell Mary Kay. These are the very women who were thinking about their need for a job within the past 24 hours… talk about a hot prospect! You can follow these folks, and also press the “reply” button where you can message them and invite them to follow you.

Bottom line, Twitter is a powerful marketing tool. Frankly, I don’t use it the way I’ve described, but I’ve seen a lot of people who do. The name of the game is to get followers. Once they’re following you, it’s like the world’s simplest medium for sending out information to thousands of people at once — all of whom have opted in to follow you.

But remember, like email, you need to make your posts interesting, and should avoid bombarding people with too many “tweets.” After all, they can stop following you as easily as they follow you.

Kaylene, I hope that helps!



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