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Stop trying to monetise Twitter. You’re killing the golden goose!


Tired of hearing about Web 2.0? Sick of being told that you need to use social networking as part of your comprehensive media marketing strategy? Beginning to suspect that this whole social networking thing was invented by IT geeks post the dot-com bust in a bid to re-live the glory days?

Celebrities in particular have seen the value of Twitter and are taking it up in record droves. On any given day, you can read tweets from and reply to Ashton Kutcher, Hugh Jackman or Miley Cyrus. You can also have a conversation with Richard Branson, or tweet Tony Robbins.

So, what’s the attraction?

Twitter is a platform for people to interact.

See, this whole social networking thing is not as complicated as you think it is. In fact, it really comes down to two things:

1. Value

Most entrepreneurs have realised that they need to provide value via social networking. Unfortunately, many have still failed to have the revelation that “value” does not refer to what they find valuable, but to what their clients find valuable. Your clients don’t care if you’ve released a new product. They don’t care if Janine in sales has had a baby. They care about how what you do will affect them.

2. Interaction

This is the bit that’s missing from most social networking. See, social networking, at its heart, is about interaction. It’s about community. If you were around for the original online boom in the 90s, you’ll remember the sudden emergence of online communities based mainly around chat rooms on websites like Yahoo and AOL. Marketers could never figure out how to monetise these rooms and contented themselves with banner advertising.

Example: the first person to one million followers on Twitter? Actor Ashton Kutcher. How? He got online and talked to people. All of a sudden a million of his fans realised they could have a direct conversation with their favourite star.

This is where the secret of social networking lies. Reaching out, talking to your fans. Interacting with them, asking their opinion. Becoming a real person that they can have a relationship with.

The moment you start thinking about “monetising” you miss the point. It’s not about making money. It’s about developing relationships. Yes, those relationships will make you money – but only if you focus on building them and don’t spend the whole time thinking about the money.

Think about it – you know when someone approaches you looking to develop a partnership or broker a deal and they’re just thinking about the money. You can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices – they literally stink of desperation.

On the other hand, when someone approaches you focusing on what they can do for you, on the value they can provide for you … well, that’s a whole different thing.

And, of course, herein lies the issue with social networking for many entrepreneurs. There’s no getting around it – utilisation of social networking as a form of marketing requires an input of time.

This bugs a lot of business owners, looking for a shortcut. Isn’t there some way in which we can just, like, advertise on it or something? Do we really need to spend hours in front of our computers tweeting, LinkingIn and Facebooking?

Well that depends – do you want to have one on one conversations with entire enclaves of your ideal target market? Do you want to be seen as a leading source of information? Do you want to be one of the cool kids?

Interestingly, it’s not just about being cool with kids – the median age of Twitter users is 31 and Twitter is heavily utilised by business owners.

If you want to learn how to use Twitter effectively, follow these people and copy what they’re doing.

  1. Guy Kawasaki – @GuyKawasaki
  2. Jim Stewart –  @jimboot
  3. Scott Stratten – @unmarketing
  4. Ed Dale –  @Ed_Dale
  5. Alister Cameron –  @alicam

If you want to see what your own standing on Twitter is, get your rank from http://www.twitalyzer.com/

Leela Cosgrove is Managing Director of Business Writers Anonymous, focused on sales, marketing and business development. She is also a firewalker, has a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do, a penchant for tattoos, and enjoys bands such as Rammstein, Li Bach, Marilyn Manson, Pennywise and Bad Religion.