To make the most of Twitter, it’s best to be consistent – this month’s Greater Fort Wayne Business Journal column (feat. Ashley Motia)

My October Greater Fort Wayne Business Journal column features Ashley Motia‘s thoughts on Twitter. If you want to learn more, join Ashley for her Twitter class at IPFW on Oct. 17.

As social media has evolved, it’s become challenging to stay on top of all the new tools and changes to existing platforms. That’s why I feel fortunate to be connected to smart, capable people who help keep me up to speed — including my co-worker at Asher Agency, Ashley Motia. Ashley and I spoke about some recent changes to Twitter and the impact on marketers and businesses. Here’s a recap.

Anthony Juliano: What’s new with Twitter these days?

Ashley Motia: Twitter is capitalizing on its potential as a marketing tool — particularly in regards to “social TV.” An example of social TV is the conversation that occurs during a hot television program like “Breaking Bad.” People love talking about what they’re watching and sharing that experience with others — and that focus on conversations has driven Twitter as of late.

Twitter has also become invaluable for sourcing news in a way that other social networks and even television can’t touch. Because of Twitter’s real-time nature, followers get news almost instantaneously. This has proven to be both a blessing and curse. Quicker news delivery helps disseminate information, but in an effort to be the first to break the news, some outlets are reporting incorrect information.

Juliano: As businesses try to decide where their time is best spent in social media, where does Twitter fit in?

Motia: After setting up shop on Facebook, many organizations see Twitter as the next logical step, but it’s not right for everyone. If you have a product/service that doesn’t typically generate much conversation naturally, Twitter may not be a good fit. Tweets have a very short shelf life, so if you don’t have regular and frequent content that is interesting to your audience, Twitter may not be right for you.

Twitter is great for younger demographics. If you want to reach a fairly broad audience between the ages of 14-35, Twitter may have a place in your social-media strategy. Twitter is also excellent for businesses on the go (like food trucks), organizations that have a lot of information to distribute (i.e.: news outlets) or businesses who can devote the resources to using it as a customer service channel.

Deciding which social-media platforms to use should fit within the overall goals of your marketing strategy. “Everyone else is doing it” is not a strategy. Neither is, “My nephew says Twitter is where all the kids hang out and our company needs to be on there.” You have a finite amount of resources to devote to marketing; make sure you are spending them wisely.

Juliano: What’s your best advice for businesses that want to make use of Twitter?

Motia: Balance and consistency are both critical. Balance the information you’re sharing about your own business with useful information from others and conversation. Many marketers subscribe to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your content should be relevant to your audience (helpful articles, tips, conversation, etc.) and 20 percent should be direct marketing about your company’s products, services, etc.

Whatever strategy you employ on Twitter, you must be consistent. I’ve seen many an organization get amped up about joining Twitter, posting a flurry of content for a week, and then the profile goes silent. Make posting on a consistent schedule a priority. Above all else: never forget that it’s social media. Conversations are key.

Juliano: One of the complaints I’ve heard about Twitter is that it can be time consuming to use it effectively. Is that the case? If so, what can businesses do about it?

Motia: The amount of time it takes to manage Twitter effectively depends on a few things: 1) the social media strategy devised in relation to resources (one of which is time) and goals; 2) the tools being used; and 3) the expectations you establish with your audience. Can you manage Twitter in 10 minutes or less a day? Sure! But you may not be utilizing the network to its maximum potential.

The best thing a business can do is find a tool that works for them. Hootsuite, for example, eases the urge to babysit Twitter for many organizations. Its dashboard has all the functionality of the web version of Twitter and then some. You can monitor keywords or hashtags, favorite and/or retweet content, see and reply to messages and tweets, and even schedule your posts in advance—all in a single screen view.

Juliano: What do you see when you look into the future? How do you think Twitter will evolve in the coming months?

Motia: Twitter will be available for public trading soon, valued at around $10 billion. If it’s anything like Facebook’s IPO, it will definitely shake things up, for better or worse. Twitter has been rolling out new features to prepare for the IPO, but I would anticipate more changes after the IPO. One of those will be a shift in the way Twitter handles and implements advertising into users’ feeds.

Juliano: You have a Twitter class coming up, correct?

Motia: Yes, on Oct. 17 I’ll be teaching a Twitter for Business class at IPFW. You can learn more by emailing me at AshleyM@AsherAgency.com.

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