This is a newsletter article from the August 2010 edition my monthly email newsletter. If you like it and aren’t signed up, simply fill in the form to the right or at the bottom of this post to join.
To tweet, or not to tweet? How Twitter can make us money as small business owners
Twitter has been in the news almost constantly since its launch in 2006, with hype, scandal and celebrity gossip keeping the site firmly at the forefront of public consciousness. We all know that Twitter has multiple benefits for small business owners. We understand that we need to ‘tweet’ compulsively in order to reap these benefits. The thing is, many of us still don’t ‘get it’.
I have to admit from a personal perspective that the rationale behind Twitter eludes me. How has it become so popular? Why? What is the magical formula that makes Twitter as successful, commercially, as social networking giants Facebook? Most importantly, how do we get in on the action, and generate revenue from Twitter?
The site grows from strength to strength
Twitter’s latest escapade has been to celebrate the posting of the twenty billionth tweet. That’s a lot of tweeting. A Japanese Tweeter has been freaked out by a flurry of attention all over the world, following the landmark posting up of the milestone tweet on the site.
The poor gentleman who was singled out for attention has the username ‘GGGGGGo_Lets_Go’. He has found unwanted notoriety following his tweet, which was sent on 1544 GMT Saturday. The rather innocuous message stated: "So that means the barrage might come back later all at once."
The gentleman is a graphic designer who works for an advertising agency based in Tokyo. He has released a comment which demonstrates his confusion at being singled out, and the rather unexpected notoriety which has occurred as a result of him inadvertently posting up the landmark tweet: "Looks like I posted the 20 billionth tweet. I’m getting replies from people all over the world. It’s scary. What are the chances? Maybe I’m going to die. Is it more amazing than winning the lottery? I thought it was a joke."
It has taken Twitter just five months to double the number of tweets it had, going from ten billion to twenty billion. Japanese users of the site send eight million tweets per day (twelve percent of the global total), and are the most prolific tweeters in the world, after the United States.
Fast facts about the 140-character phenomenon
Twitter was founded in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. As of June 2009, there was an estimated 45 million user accounts. Everything you write on Twitter is indexed and can be found on the web, meaning it carries a kind of data footprint which records every single thing which is written on the site and archives it. Weirdly, this doesn’t stop us from tweeting compulsively, even though we are, in effect, giving away our intellectual information to an unknown source and offering them our permission to store, analyse, and reproduce it in any way they see fit.
Harvard researchers have released the following facts about Twitter:
- Although men and women follow a similar number of Twitter users, men have 15% more followers than women
- Men comprise 45% of Twitter users, while women represent 55%
- Men also have more reciprocated relationships, in which two users follow each other
- An average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman
- An average man is 40% more likely to be followed by another man than by a woman
- An average woman is 25% more likely to follow a man than a woman
- On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women – men follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they know
- Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days
- The top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets. On a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production. This implies that Twitter’s resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.
Twitter? It brings us business
Really, the main thing we all want to know about Twitter is, HOW DOES IT MAKE US MONEY AS BLOG OWNERS? All the other information is great, but, so what? How do we tap in to this interesting phenomenon and get some cash out of it? Can we exploit twitter? Can it work for us?
In short, yes. Twitter provides us with exposure, advertising and revenue for our blogs. It gives us access to new potential customers, links us in with other people in the same industry as us, and allows us a platform from which to express ourselves. Twitter does make money, when used properly. People are using the site more and more to find service providers, and if our Twitter accounts are up to date and well-run, and we tweet often, we greatly increase our chances of being found, and recruited for our services.
How to optimize our chances of making money through Tweeting
The following tips are designed to refocus our energy, to make sure we’re optimizing out tweeting prowess to make money through our business. Just for effect, they are all 140 characters or less!
- Keep your profile clean and up to date, so customers can find you easily
- Remember Twitter is an advertising space, and use it accordingly
- Tweet often to keep people informed
- Tweet wisely, and remember you are using a sales tool
- Stay industry-oriented to keep stakeholders engaged
- Don’t engage in personal dialogue – this is a business platform
- Keep it interesting so people stay involved and keep following you
- Avoid obvious selling – incorporate useful messages and content
- Re-tweet and respond to direct messages – stay polite and engaged with customers.
By observing these simple rules, Twitter can become a genuinely interesting and lucrative platform from which to launch your services. As the gentleman from Japan remarked, Twitter is obviously important, which is why he questioned whether he had won the lottery, when faced with the global hype surrounding his milestone tweet.