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A week on twitter
And why I'm gone for good

 8:33 am on Jul 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Twitter has been talked about a lot here recently, so I thought I'd try it out. To be honest I had little confidence in the value of something so limited; however I created the account, participated, found people I know and people I know of to follow.

I put in a few hours most days for more than a week, and built up around 360 followers. So far so good. I put out around 200 messages.

Today I looked back over the experiment to evaluate the results. They are as follows:

  • New business gained: none ($0)
  • Useful or interesting information found: none
  • New contacts made: none
  • General tweets published: 150+
  • General tweets read: only one was ever replied to
  • Time spent: 16 hours + (what's that in billable hours?)
  • Personal interaction: six isolated replies to @replys against 3x that number sent
  • Noise to signal ratio (just today): 80% commercial spam, 15% inane irrelevant messages, 5% signal but mostly old news

    The most worrying facts were 16 hours spent for $0 income and $0 worth of information. That is far below any form of communication I know. Usually there is a trade off between information value and business value, e.g. WebmasterWorld is high on information value per hour, other places are high leads per hour.

    My conclusion is that twitter is a total irrelevance for business use.



     9:51 am on Jul 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Personally I think that most people sign up to twitter to see what all the fuss is about, check it once or twice, then abandon it completely when they realise that A) Its not instantly obvious what's happening, and B) The very small messsages (and no additional facebook/photo/etc options) mean that is pretty useless for most things.

    Its possible some people using mobiles use it - but I'm not convinced.

    I suspect the only people making money from it are the usual crowd - i.e those who claim they can teach others to make money on it, hence sell you products teaching you the 'secret'!

    I'd be happy to be proven wrong though - can anyone point to some case studies where companies are making significant revenue from it?


     11:41 am on Jul 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

    You must not know what you are doing. I have several accounts one for me and several for clients. With my personal account I'm very picky who I will follow and who I will let follow me. I do follow some people that spam quite a bit but they do say important things from time to time so I have to put up with it. I don't follow too many people like that. I can see how some people may not get much out of twitter but if your into search marketing twitter is invaluable. I learn stuff every day from twitter. I communicate with quite a lot of people from WebmasterWorld and the search community. I have made new friends. One new friendship turned into a very lucrative deal.

    Twitter can make businesses money. Just study how Dell made a killing on twitter. I have a client that runs a social network and is getting lots of new members from work done on twitter. Another client is an ecommerce website and we have had sells that came from twitter. It is important to keep a personal account for networking and one for your actual business.


     12:57 am on Jul 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Apparently Twitter programmers are not the best in the world. Twitter has many bugs, like today someone managed (probably through a javascript hack) to put their profiles on my "Following" list and there was no way to remove them (the text link shows I don't follow them, but the graphic thumbnails are still there). These are basic programming procedures and if it takes them so much time to fix such a serious problem (I noticed they have it on their "bugs to fix" list) then it cannot be very useful.


     12:54 pm on Jul 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Just to clarify, Dell did not make a killing in Twitter. They had a few million in sales from it over a year. Compare that to the billions in sales they do a year, and we are talking peanuts.

    I'd be surprised if they covered their own cost for setting up and managing their efforts when you take the profit portion of those sales.


     6:57 pm on Jul 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

    FWIW: I made a contact thru twitter, had that person do some work for me. Paid them, then turned what they did for me into two money making web sites. Okay, I could have met them in other ways but to its credit it was thru twitter. I made no money directly with twitter, but indirectly yes.


     8:15 pm on Jul 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

    It took me several months to settle in.


     4:05 am on Jul 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I haven't yet read or heard anything that has caused me to want to try Twitter, so I'll admit upfront that I am ignorant about it.

    However, that said, if it really is a waste of time and yet lots of people are giddy over it, that's a good thing from my perspective. Every minute those people are wasting there is a minute they aren't doing things to compete with me.

    On the other hand, if I learn of a good reason to give it a try, I will.



     11:11 am on Jul 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Working on getting lots of followers at any cost is what is a waste of time on twitter. If you know how to use it as a networking tool you can benefit from it. Networking is very important. For a business it is a way to communicate. In the future you may look back and wonder why you did not get involved earlier. Many people thought faxes were a waste of time and many thought blogs were a waste of time.

    Twitter can be a huge waste of time if you don't learn how to use it. There are a lot of people on twitter and there is a lot of spam as well. The same could be said about Google or Yahoo but we still focus on them. Twitter might not last forever but micro blogging and real time search will. Don't be the person that finally got a cell phone or email in 2009.


     11:57 am on Jul 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Nice to see some confirmation to what I had already suspected...


     2:07 pm on Jul 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Many people thought faxes were a waste of time ...

    I remember as far back as when fax machines were first introduced and I don't ever recall anyone expressing the thought that they were a waste of time. Fax was a welcomed business tool. I remember articles in NYTimes and WSJ proclaiming the business efficiency of fax transmissions.

    Fax machines became a real pain when people learned how to use them to SPAM others with advertisements. And it literally took an act of Congress to provide recipients of that SPAM an effective tool to fight back.

    Now newer technology has rendered fax machines much less an effective and efficient tool.

    and many thought blogs were a waste of time.

    Many if not most blogs are a waste of time. Some are great uses of time and technology.

    Maybe Twitter will have its time and maybe it's 15 minutes of fame are about to expire. Who knows.

    What I have observed is that some people who like Twitter really like it - to the point of being emotional about it.

    Don't be the person that finally got a cell phone or email in 2009.

    Like I wrote above:
    On the other hand, if I learn of a good reason to give it a try, I will.
    I simply haven't found that reason yet and I read anything I come across that purports to tout the advantages of Twitter.



     5:26 am on Jul 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

    At the very least you need to reserve your name, nicknames, and company name and product names. You need to be watching all those things in the search section for reputation management. Follow a few important people in your industry just in case they say something you need to hear. At the very least use twitter like any other important website. I'm not saying you have to become an addict. Iím not saying you need to try to get a zillion followers or that you have to say anything on twitter. Twitter should not be ignored.

    I have found that twitter is way better than a feed reader for SEM information. I think twitter is the best portal for search marketing information.


     6:49 am on Jul 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I think twitter is the best portal for search marketing information.

    that may be so... but I wonder if that's the only industry that has really embraced twitter. I'm not so sure it's the best portal for whitegoods information, or medical research information, for example.


     1:56 pm on Jul 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

    The fact that a few hundred people at PubCon Austin can make the tag "Pubcon" a trending topic will tell you how many people in SEO/SEM are using twitter.


     7:43 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I signed up multiple accounts for my blogs. I got more than 300 followers on each of them. I also used an automated twit for my blog post to twit on my twitter and so far I got zero traffic from it.

    I suspect that all those followers I have are doing the same thing. Setting up an account, following twitters and accepting followers then wait for the hoards of traffic that will never come.


     8:14 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I was the biggest skeptic but gave it a shot. I've since stopped using the system. Even though I'm no longer using Twitter my followers number increases daily, around 1500 right now.

    My conclusion is that twitter is a total irrelevance for business use.

    I agree 99%. The other 1% I reserve for gimmicks such as when a NY pizza shop gave a way a code on Twitter for a free second pizza and ended up breaking their record for pizzas delivered in a night (but not pizzas sold, 2nd free doesn't count as a separate sale).

    If you want to generate instant hype, Twitter works for now, the wow factor needed to generate it is growing though.


     8:25 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    What is the Twitter strategy that you have applied during this process? The goal of your campaign seems very very distended, what was it? New contacts, new business, find friends, follower gathering (I call it ego-stroking). It's not clear from your post what you were trying to achieve.

    Did you get Spam? Turn off your public timeline and that will help for starters. It's very very difficult to generalize across Social Media, because the effective strategies are those that are created on a case-by-case basis, and it's not for everyone.

    I for one have come around to Twitter in terms of the added dimension it can bring to complement an online communications strategy.

    For example, Twitter is great for NGOs and other consumer groups wishing to keep in contact with customers. It's a non-committal alternative to asking for people's email address, and can hook you into a young dynamic.

    If you're just trying to sell stuff, it's going to be difficult (but not impossible) because social media is more about interpersonal interaction, and advertisements consequently stand out like a sore thumb, when they are present in this media space.



     8:27 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Personally I think the mistake starts with the "360 followers" and then the "noise to signal ratio". There seem to be two goals on Twitter - either firstly to make it a broadcast tool where you send out messages to thousands and some might listen, or secondly as a communication tool where you actually receive and share interesting info with those around you. I don't think it can be both at the same time.

    I would consider myself quite settled in to Twitter - been using it for a number of months - but I'm only following 145 people with 153 following. And even that's too many. However the information I get from it is timely, comprehensive and relevant. To get useful info you need to be more selective.

    If you want to turn it into a broadcast tool then you need to forget reading the Tweets and do it on a larger scale. Its like e-mail - if you send out 360 e-mails to random people then you're not likely to convert. If you want to convert in a direct response capacity you need a lot more followers (and to Tweet lots of useful info in between the occassional sales message).


     8:40 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I have been finding Twitter very effective over the last year or so. My followers have pretty much been only people in the industry and I have tried to stay on topic. I use my own URL shortener so I can easily count how many click on my tweets and I can see spikes in my traffic when I say something of interest. That can carry over to the other social networking sites and in a combined "flurry" I can make a little dent in my tiny world.

    But things do seem to be rapidly changing from an information medium to a spam medium. I am getting a bit tired of seeing links to old news and that may be the start of the end unless we can find ways to control it as individuals. That will almost certainly be through third party software, which simply blocks out the noise - so you PRETEND to follow lots of people - and everyone's your friend - but you only hear a few.

    That will be sad. Will it be like a Myspace and a Digg? probably. It will wain. What is interesting, though, is that I have been tracking the traffic on some of these sites. Whilst many are having a rise and fall effect, it looks likethe one that's surviving and thriving is Facebook - not Twitter.


     8:53 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    What is interesting, though, is that I have been tracking the traffic on some of these sites. Whilst many are having a rise and fall effect, it looks likethe one that's surviving and thriving is Facebook - not Twitter.

    Although I agree that Facebook seems to be going from strength to strength, I think its a shame that the one that's having the most tremendous success is the one that's also the most restrictive with user data. I love the openness of the Twitter API.

    However I also think its interesting that Facebook has never had the huge media hype that Twitter has. I wonder why that is.

    GrendelKhan TSU

     9:12 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    garbage in garbage out.

    twitter is definitely useful for biz depending how you use it and what biz goals are...and how good you are at doing so.

    same said for web development, PPC or SEO, no?

    to put simply, I wouldn't call your sample a very good one.


     9:47 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    i am in the middle of running a little test in twitter ...

    2 accounts:
    1. personal, small looking for info on things that interest me.
    2. mass follow account to get the followers numbers up (only spanish followers) and used as a shouting box.

    Both seem to work well.

    The first personal account has become an interesting website to visit, and and very often i get an initial heads up here on some interesting news.,,

    the second account is used as a communicacions launcher, and works, getting RTed and getting certain messages out there.


     9:48 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    We use twitter API for updating our account, we have a cricket sports website and we update scores through twitter (one of the features to help users get Live Cricket Score). We are not focusing on getting traffic from twitter, we are more keen that people get their dose of latest score updated directly in their account, rather then visiting our site.

    Our Take is that we might loose (not gain traffic) in short term, but at least users are getting information and as we use our own short URL service, we are hopeful it would create a stronger brand recall for our website on long term basis, and probably having twitter on our website could better our chance by 0.5% (if Yes ! then why not) :)

    We invested 10 hours in integrating the api, and nothing more is invested on daily basis (all automated), so I guess I could test for more time before declaring this ' irrelevant for biz use' :)


     9:56 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    If your not doing well with twitter you have not spent enough time learning how to use it right. Just like anything you can't just do a small test and use a few spam programs. There is a science to it and you really need to learn how to use it. This is starting to sound like one of those stupid threads in adsense where people say they built a website and don't understand why they are not swimming in money.


     11:25 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    You invested a whole week? 200 whole messages? Wow, okay.


     11:34 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    A week on twitter

    Don't you think a week is a very short time to conclude that twitter is 'a total irrelevance for business' - regardless of how many work hours spent?

    Twitter may not always return tangible business gains, but it can be a very useful tool for branding purposes, awareness generation, etc.

    In my experience, sometimes the silliest tweets get RT'd a lot by kids and adults alike. The only question I ask then, did I word my tweet well enough to get any 'gain' out of it (branding, link, lead-in question, hook, etc?) So, to me, it's not how much or often you tweet, at times it's also how well you tweet.


     11:39 am on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I had a similar experience. My friend kept telling me that i was "missing a trick" by not being on Twitter, and that I should give it a go, despite my persistence that I really didn't have time for it at all.

    I've since found, that whilst I still have very little time for contributing to the twittersphere, ive actually done very well out of using it as a news source (which helps me in my business life).

    I use an apoplication that allows me to have a number of "searches" live all the time. I now know what people are saying to Google, MSN, Yahoo etc. I know what they're saying back. I know if anyone is talking about me, my company, or my clients online. I might not know what to do with the information, but i'm certainly better off knowing.

    So in short - i've found it useful - but more as a voyeur that an participant.


     12:26 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Twitter is (primarily) a waste of time. Much like watching television. But lots of people spend lots of time doing that, right? Time wasting is a global pastime (literally), and there is $ to be made when you get the right messages in front of the right eyeballs.

    And since it's gone mainstream, you mustn't ignore it as a source of potential information, whether it be outbound or inbound.


     12:46 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Taking a quick poll around my coworkers there are a lot more people that use twitter than a classic RSS feed reader. I'm almost thinking twitter is the new RSS to a certain degree.


     12:54 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Really hard for me to call Twitter a waste of time, since Twitter is in my top 3 of referring traffic (and not all twitter clients report traffic properly, so it might be more).

    This 55 message thread spans 2 pages: 55 ( [1] 2 > >
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