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Lessons Learned from a Twitter Naysayer

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John Reese, one of the world’s top internet marketers, quit twitter yesterday.  He left behind 25,000 followers! In a note to his email list, Reese said, “About a year ago, I really loved Twitter.  It was a lot of fun and it was great for communicating with people and for getting into all sorts of discussions. But as Twitter has grown, it’s become full of NOISE. Even, though, my follower count has risen, the response to my tweets has been on a steady decline.”

In his final Twitter posts on March 1, Reese said the response rate to his tweets has declined 75% from its peak. He checked with other marketers who reported similar declines. He said he will focus his social media efforts on Facebook (I happen to agree that you should focus most of your social media energy on Facebook).

So…should we all quit Twitter? Reese is a master of traffic generation. He knows how to drive traffic to his site and convert that traffic to sales. I trust his judgment…

But I don’t think “quit Twitter now” is the lesson to be learned from Reese’s actions. The key takeaway for me: Measure your results! Reese walks away with confidence because he knows his conversion rate has declined by 75%. When he posts a link to Twitter, he measures the number of clicks. He measures the number of people who click then register for his email list. He measures the number of people who click and then purchase his products. He measures the time he spends on Twitter (and thus the cost). So he can calculate his investment against the return. The numbers simply don’t work for him.

Does Twitter work for you? How do you know? What are you trying to accomplish with your tweets?

Reese is right about the noise on Twitter. Many tweeters spend countless hours posting trivial stuff…for what? What are your business goals? How do your tweets serve those goals? How do you measure your success?

At the very least, you should use a URL shortening program such as bit.ly that lets you measure click-throughs. Better yet, include tracking software on your site (such as Google analytics) that tracks where your Twitter traffic goes once it reaches your site. Don’t guess. Measure.

In a previous post, I said businesses ignore social media at their own peril. I still believe that. But then and now, I cautioned that you should engage in social media only if you have a purpose.

My goal is to strengthen my company’s reputation as a leading resource for interactive marketing solutions and tools. Occasionally, I’ll link to pages on my web site, where visitors download tips. This serves the same goal, plus people who visit that page can sign up for my email list. That helps me achieve my goal to identify, acquire and convert new leads. The bottom line: Begin by familiarizing yourself with Twitter and having some fun. As you continue with Twitter, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If your answer is not in line with specific business goals, you probably can find better ways to kill time.

Do I plan to quit Twitter? Not yet. But I know that if I stick with Twitter, I’ll be able to justify the decision, and if I eventually quit, I’ll know exactly why.

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