Annie Macfarlane, community manager at Yomego, looks at some reasons it's perfectly ok to give Twitter a miss.
Somewhere, right now, there’s a good chance that a big brand is doing a very public faceplant on Twitter. There’s also a good chance we’ll all hear about it in the next few hours and if we’re honest, we might even rather enjoy it. It’s schadenfreude and we, the pious public, can’t get enough of it.
But it’s just possible that the real tragedies of Twitter aren’t the ones doing these stupid, public things: they’re the ones that should never have been there in the first place. They’re the brands you pity when you spot the bones of their abandoned Twitter accounts bleaching in the midday sun; the accounts that fill you with shame when you stumble upon them quietly, yet persistently, reading out bland, promotional messages into an empty auditorium.
Healthy social media campaigns start with an honest assessment or budgets, time and resource, a thorough knowledge of your audience and your own capabilities. That means that Twitter might just not work for you. And that’s OK. There are some perfectly valid reasons for giving it a miss. Namely:
It’s not all about the conversation
In the right hands, Twitter can be a superb marketing tool: it’s an efficient channel for the swift dissemination of information and a good way to connect more closely with customers. But what’s the business value of those things? I’d say it depends on your business, and these outcomes shouldn’t be assumed to have a value in their own right. If your priority is chasing sales leads, and you can do that better outside of Twitter, it’s undeniably better to use your time accordingly.
Currency isn’t your currency…
Batching and scheduling at least some of your tweets can be an efficient way to get things done. But if companies are planning all of their content months in advance, it’s likely that at least some of it will have passed its shelf life by the time it reaches their followers. RSS feeds and tools like Trendspottr and Alltop can help you access trending content quickly. But if it’s truly impossible for you to keep content bang up to date, in my opinion you should consider binning it and putting your marketing budget elsewhere.
… or discipline isn’t your discipline
Twitter is sticky – some studies say more so than alcohol or tobacco. Do you ever find yourself idling in your feeds, all the time convincing yourself you’re doing important work? If that’s you, consider assigning fixed times of day to manage your accounts, and if that’s not working, you might do better to simply walk away.
Twitter is a tremendous tool for listening and being heard when things are going wrong. It’s also become much easier for consumers to tip the scales towards accountability, and this is for the most part healthy. On the flipside, there’s not much between amplifying a small voice and raising an angry mob. When a company’s name is being dragged through the dirt, isn’t it better for them to iron out those issues first, rather than pumping their limited time and resources into being available for attack on yet another channel?
Avoiding the channel hop
We can’t be everywhere at once, and if Twitter isn’t where your customers are, you’re wise not to jump on the bandwagon. If your star content is strikingly visual, don’t waste it with links on Twitter: put it on Facebook or Tumblr where it will jump off the page. If you’re killing it with your blog and you can only spare a couple of hours a week, dump Twitter and put in the effort where it counts.
Social media strategies should be nimble and built around meaningful targets, not ticking lazily along on autopilot. In these dark days when there’s often a yawning gap between the budgets marketing managers would like and the budget they’re actually given, the smart money will always be on those who can make the most efficient use of limited resources and limited time. It’s doubtful to me that that time is automatically best spent on Twitter.