David McKillen WebStrategies Inc.
Twitter is simply a waste of valuable time - at least that's what I used to think. Chris Leone, our resident Social Media Mad man, battered on me for long enough trying to convince me that Twitter was more than just a way of skipping my work duties and that there is some genuine value to investing time therein.
That's the key though - INVESTING TIME. It is easy for very knowledgeable business men and women to find it difficult to monetize something like Facebook or Twitter; to look at a tool like Twitter and think to themselves that it is just another Flash-in-the-pan Web craze. I am not sure that Twitter of Facebook can necessarily send you a check in the mail after the first week of using it - or after the first year for that matter. As Chris quite rightly pointed out at one stage in an IM chat to me - "How can you put a value on caring and being known?" How can someone measure in monetary terms, the great value of having a captive audience? After all, the basis of almost any successful business is the existence of a raving client base.
The ultimate goal with business is to make a profit, but you can't get there until you build this client base and develop relationships. This is just as possible on the Web as it is in our real world day to day, face to face, human interactions.
It might be true - in 3 years we may look back on Twitter (or Facebook for that matter) and say "ah remember Twitter? Those were fun days". It's true, there will also be a day in the future when we look back on Apple's iPhone and say - "ha! Remember the iPhone ... that white, chunky brick we had to carry around with us!?" Apple's iPhone may be the best inventions of this decade - but inevitably it will become a dated piece of technology.
Just because something is around for a short while, doesn't mean it has no value and one can't utilize the "Tool-of-the-day" while it lasts. Social Media (well maybe socializing in general) has been around since the dawn of animals - we are social beasts so even though Twitter will likely some day disappear, the underlying purpose of Twitter, Society and interactions between humans, will last as long as we do.
So - what's Dave rambling on about anyway?
Well I wanted to just try and give just a small, real world example how how you can do something with Twitter and how there is real value to be found. As you may or may not know I manage an adult rec soccer club in a few different cities across the US. A friend of mine approached me about helping him create another adult rec. soccer group for his city. He had no players, no idea of how or where to start and really the only link he had to soccer having just moved there was me (or should I say the fact that I might be able to help him).
I decided to try and use this as an opportunity to give Twitter a go - give it a real world test. I started following hash tags like, #cityname, #soccer etc. to see what if any activity there was already on the topic in the specific city. I used Google to search for "twitter cityname soccer" to see if I could find any Twitter users that advertised their Twitter username Online. I watched for #FF or Follow Friday posts by other users. I looked for the Twitter username of the local newspaper and other soccer related businesses in the area and started following them.
Having already established the existing Soccer club via other cities I simply added another new city group to the website and used that as my base. I would include the URL for that on a lot of the posts I made. I used Hootsuite to manage my Twitter interactions and used their Stats tracker to learn how many clicks if any I was getting from URLs I would post.
Over time I started asking questions of other Twitter users and started noticing people were following me. My current Twitter follower list is by no means huge but it seems to have fairly hardcore, devoted soccer lovers - a few hundred hardcore followers is infinitely better than 1,000 random businesses following me simply to get me to follow them.
Bit by bit my friend and I continued to work in this fashion over the period of weeks to months. Our Twitter followers grew and we were able to slowly build this new adult soccer rec team. A huge bonus that we didn't expect to earn was the support of a local beer company as a sponsor for the new team, who have promised to cover expenses - jerseys etc. and supply us with beer :). To have found financial backing for our little venture was truly a great find and all basically thanks to Twitter.
So there you have it, the experiment worked! Twitter can be of great use and proved to be a valuable tool for my friend and I in our development of his brand new soccer team.
The only problem in all this is? - my friend is a terrible soccer player. Well Twitter can't be expected to do EVERYTHING - .. now to find soccer coaches ... :)
David McKillen WebStrategies Inc.