Social Media and Your Business – What Happens After the Tweet?

How are you using social media in general and Twitter in particular? Over the years, I’ve come across:

Social Media and Your Business - What Happens After the Tweet?

  • people who totally get the concept of being social
  • people who get it but don’t have much time to do anything
  • people who have set up a social media profile and are convinced that they are now connected with all their followers. (Sorry, but they are not.)


In talking to Lea Woodward and Joanna Paterson the other day, I commented: “When I first started using Twitter, it was mostly conversations. Seems like it’s changed a bit.” They agreed. Today’s Twitter stream has a lot of links and quite a few thinly disguised – or not – sales pitches. Many small biz owners take advice that says they have to be on Twitter, but sometimes that advice stops short of what to do when they get there.

And I totally get it. When you’re busy, you may not have much time for more than sharing a link and moving onto the next thing. And I know what I’m talking about, because my own Twitter journey is a perfect example.

Changing Twitter Usage Pattern

When I first started using Twitter, I was doing a lot of ghostwriting, so there was nothing to share. The client I wrote most for had his own Twitter account, which I managed. So I’d spend my time on my personal Twitter account talking to people, and occasionally throwing in a cool post I’d read or written.

Things are different now. For one thing, I’m doing a lot more bylined work. And these days, any professional blogger is expected to share her work via her own social media profiles (a good reason to do your best work always, I say!) Since I write a lot, I share a lot. I also share good stuff from some truly awesome people whose work I respect. And since I’m busy writing and sharing, I’m conversing less.

But if you link drop and leave, you don’t get real value from Twitter. Twitter may well work as an RSS replacement and a broadcasting tool, but if you want to truly connect with people it’s what happens after the tweet that counts.

What is Twitter Good For?

So what exactly does happen? All three of us agreed that we were using Twitter less for conversing. Instead Twitter came into its own as a tool for taking the social temperature on a hot issue or making initial contact with someone you wanted to get to know better. Increasingly, though, all of us were interacting more in other places, such as private Facebook groups or forums built around a particular interest. There’s a lesson there, too – you may need to connect with your customers in more than one location to truly build a valuable relationship.

I haven’t written Twitter off as a conversational medium altogether – after all we WERE able to use it to have this conversation, but you only get out of it what you put in. That’s why I’ll be experimenting with:

  • doing most of my regular sharing from my other Twitter account and chatting more from my main one.
  • spending more time on the site to respond to people who share interesting things. I do this already, but I know I could do more.

How to Be Social

You see, if you are going to build a good online relationship with someone, it takes more than a couple of tweets and a few links. Writing and sharing great stuff is good (and I can help with the writing if it’s not your strong point) but you also have to

  • be genuine (act like a human being and not a company)
  • be helpful (without thought of reward or reciprocity)
  • be responsive (usually multiple times)

Most of all, you need to build interaction and trust before you market and sell.

I tell all my clients that to use social media properly you have to be social – what are you going to do after that first tweet?

18 thoughts on “Social Media and Your Business – What Happens After the Tweet?”

  1. I don’t know precisely what happened, Sharon, or when it happened or even how it happened but …
    I used to love to spend loads of time on Twitter (about two years ago) and have tons of fun conversing with other users. Then some sort of “shift” took place in my thinking and I started moving further and further away from Twitter and closer to private Facebook groups. I believe it may have been because there was too much “selling” going on in my Twitter stream … and TOO MANY QUOTES!! Listen, I’ll be honest. I’m a quote junkie. There. I confessed. But man, oh, man! People were plunking down quotes like there was no tomorrow! And I believe this same crowd is currently plunking memes down on Facebook pages. LOL!!
    At any rate …
    I’d love to find ways to fall in love with Twitter again and make the most of it. However, my time is very limited so I can’t hang around for hours on the site. Maybe my best best would be to research and join some regularly scheduled Twitter “chats” that don’t conflict with my offline work commitments. Have you ever participated in any chats? If so, did you find them to be useful?
    Thanks, Sharon! :-)

    • I have participated in the occasional chat, Melanie, and it’s fun to schedule time to talk about a topic with an interested group but even that has fallen victim to the time trap and depending on how many take part it can be very noisy in itself. :)

      I know what you mean about the quotes – I love them too, but they seem less intrusive on other platforms. On Twitter, it’s often a question of “I couldn’t be bothered to interact, so I threw in a quote). Some people use them as conversation-starters, but many do the quote and run thing.

  2. This is so true, Sharon – the conversation HAS changed to more of a series of quips. I love your ideas about how to change this. I do agree with Melanie that time is an issue – also the use or overuse of automation – but if we can just schedule some time somewhere during the week to listen and respond we can start having conversations again!

  3. Great post Sharon. I’ve personally always used Twitter to break down barriers between me and the people I want to connect with. Non-reciprocity is the best asset for Twitter, as well as the integrated search for phrases and keywords.

    So… say I want to Tweet and William Shatner, I can do that. I don’t have to be his friend or connected to him (Facebook, LinkedIn). It’s an attribute that Google+ also shares. But where Twitter has ’em beat is in the keyword searching… if I want to find someone who has specifically talked about Star Trek, or something more specific like the USS Reliant, I can find those tweets, too.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s a great system – and in business, making connections and finding an audience is *the end all-be-all* of market research.

    Great post!

    • I love the examples you give, Nick. I’ve used Twitter to track down people I’d like to start a conversation with. Using the search features – and then saving selected searches – can help reduce the noise and make Twitter more useful. Thanks for pointing that out.

  4. Great post Sharon and so true. Having a personal account which covers my writing and business too I have found that works well as I get my personality across with the chat plus get to share good stuff too – assuming my personality is ok of course :) However managing a few business accounts I struggle because how do you put personality into a business? I will persevere though. Thanks for sharing your post on

  5. Hi Sharon,

    The thoughts shared by others are the reasons micro-platforms like Twitter will not likely replace venues like blogs and their commenting systems. I don’t have the time (nor inclination) to use Twitter in the way I was using it a couple of year’s ago. (I suspect the shift happened for me around the same time it did for @Melanie.) Yep, those quotes and people contacting me about buying stuff I’d never have any interest in also got my goat, so to speak.

    Still, I find Twitter useful. Just a few days ago, I was able to connect real time with 3 people to solve a quick problem. And sometimes engaging in Twitter Chats with like-minded colleagues — when I can filter the noise — is a real boon. That kind of interaction cannot be beat! :)

    • I’ve had similar success with Twitter as a problem-solving tool, Vernessa, and the occasional real-time conversation is also great, but it gets harder and harder to filter the noise. I’ve also recently noticed that some of what I consider anti-social behavior (social media stalking to drop unwanted offers) is making its way to other platforms.

  6. Sharon,

    I have a rather stark opinion of social media in general. 30 years from now, educators will discuss the big lie. In much the same way that nation-building is whitewashed, glossing over the violent upheavals that give birth to sovereignty, so too is the call to arms of social media over-simplified.

    The best way to consider my perspective is to ask yourself, “Who are some A-listers? What were they doing BEFORE they started blogging, tweeting and whatnot?”

    Jon Morrow is an example of one A-lister who was frankly honest with his readers about how he built up his following so quickly: he already HAD the connections!

    Another aspect contributing to the big lie is the sweatshop mentality of megablogs like HuffingtonPost. Churning out multiple posts per day, using segmenting to drive up page views, etc. Is this what the average blogger thinks is sustainable? Heaven help the misinformed.

    The final issue I have is (was) the deliberate obfuscation of the term “social media”. As I have stated so often on blogs around the web, Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, gets to the heart of social media with his definition:

    “People are obsessed with social but it’s not really “social”. It’s making better decisions because of decisions of other people. It’s algorithms based on other people to help direct your attention another way.”

    I linked to my post where I go into much more depth…

    In the end, all these social tools are useful. We just have to give ourselves a reality check before diving into the deep end.



    • Lots of good points in this comment, Mitch. I have to admit to being a bit tired of algorithms – the people aspect is more important. Of course, after a while the whole circus leads to fatigue.

  7. Great post on Twitter. Exactly what I was looking for.
    What I especially appreciated was the emphasis placed on not doing a “Hit and Run” campaign, and instead establishing a credibility and trust with your followers. I agree that there has been a recent shift in the use of Twitter and more companies are blindly posting on twitter without doing the due diligence.
    My team has been developing an Application called GitGrow which simplifies Google Analytics data to track a brand’s marketing efforts across platforms . I will be sharing this post with our developers so they can understand what the key metrics are for marketing professionals who are running campaigns on social platforms such as twitter.
    I’d like to mail and invite you to try GitGrow out. Please let me know if its okay, .

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