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Twitter: Smart Networking or Reputation Disaster?

I finally took the plunge last week and signed up for a Twitter account. I resisted for quite some time, not wanting to add yet another distraction to my day in addition to phone, IM, live website chat support, and email.

More and more of my blogging circle was jumping on board so I asked them… what’s the deal – is this helping your business or just another major distraction?

A few said they’d seen a noticeable increase in blog subscribers since they started Twittering. One said that Twitter was directly responsible for some new consulting gigs. Others mentioned that Twitter provided them with a way to connect with some A-listers in a way that was not readily available before.

That’s when I decided to give it a try. But then I had some other concerns that went beyond just time…

Keep in mind that goal of this post is not to bash Twitter – I think it’s an important tool. But I do wonder if it may have adverse side effects if used carelessly.

The Potential to Kill Your Reputation

The relaxed conversational atmosphere of Twitter certainly breaks down communication barriers. But I think there is a tendency to become too relaxed, which could be dangerous – especially if you’re interacting on Twitter as way to foster business relationships.

After hanging out on Twitter, I’ve formed some entirely new opinions of people. Conversations are different when they are off the cuff vs. in the format of a well-researched blog post or article. You can really see a person’s true colors on Twitter. That’s great if you’re feeling someone out that you’re thinking about doing business with. Are they overly reactionary or combative? Do they ‘talk’ before they think? Do they act with integrity even in a relaxed social situation?

Although tweets aren’t recorded online indefinitely like published web content, people do remember them. I was talking to an online blogging friend yesterday about a conversation that took place days prior between two individuals. We both remembered the conversational in detail. People are listening and they are remembering.

With that in mind, standing out from the crowd as someone that does offer solid advice, ideas, and help seems like a smart recipe for enhancing your reputation.

Might Insinuate That You Have Nothing Better to Do

Many times I find myself wondering… how do these people have the time for this? Don’t they have more important things to do? Busy and important people are inaccessible for a reason. It’s not that they are trying to ignore people; they just simply don’t have the time to communicate with everyone. If I write to a famous author or a busy CEO, I’d be surprised if they’d write back to me let alone chat with me on Twitter.

Some people that I assumed would be very busy running businesses are very active on Twitter… Maybe they just have much better time management skills than I do and can handle it all.

What if your clients were following you on Twitter. What if while I’m supposed to be dedicated to my client’s project, I’m constantly socializing with my peers throughout the day on Twitter? Even if you can interact in short bursts with Twitter, it might give the perception that you are not 100% dedicated and focused.

What Are Your Thoughts and Experiences with Twitter?

Without naming names, have you seen a different side of people after following them on Twitter? If so, is it positive or negative? How has Twitter impacted your business?

14 Comments

Anonymous's picture

Marc Meyer (not verified)

May 22nd, 2008

I just add it to the mix that is my desk top, I tweet when I have something viable to say either to another tweet or something that I'm working on. Is it a distraction? it can be...but so can blogging, so can surfing the web, and checking email, or talking on the phone...

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Anonymous's picture

krisfranson (not verified)

July 3rd, 2008

its nice . I tried this and set it to my desktop.
Kris Franso

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Anonymous's picture

Nappy Rash Dad (Jo) (not verified)

August 20th, 2008

Strangely more and more people seem to be following our twitter page and I don't know why, I think Twitter will just grow and grow.

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Anonymous's picture

confetti (not verified)

October 15th, 2008

Thanks for this post, I feel the same concern
That is why I got registered just in case I might need it. But I did not yet use it. So I do know nothing about a different perspective of sbd. For me it looks likesth for pupils - they do have much mor time. In business the only media I us is: phone, email and personal talks. No IM, no chat, no web. I do not open this apps any more. Those I only user after work. But this might change when I start working at home instead of in the office.
Looking forward to more answers.

btw: Teh reas why I am here is because I like the alek drupal theme and wanted to see who drew the nice flowers.

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Anonymous's picture

Nick Stamoulis (not verified)

October 24th, 2008

I think it depends on how many people are following you. I'm sure many companies approached twitter when they first began and stared at it like a deer in headlights but its like anything else, you fall down a few times but before you know it you are running at a full sprint.

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Anonymous's picture

iliyas (not verified)

December 13th, 2008

No one get right solution from this things people who have lot on twitter they can get more business from this, i am also trying but not get any results, if u have any solution pls give right way to do.
thanks

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Anonymous's picture

Anonymous (not verified)

December 29th, 2008

My Boss is a CEO of a small company and he tweets all the time! He encourages all of us to tweet but I am so bogged down with work -- I have no time to tweet.

His tweets are
a) useless garbage
b) whiny rants about meetings he had with clients -- WTF
c) we are more likely to get "layoff" news or "we are broke" news from his tweets then the weekly staff meetings.

Social media is HUGE but I remember back in the early 90's when everyone was jumping on the MLM band wagon. For me I will stick to Good Solid Old Fashioned Marketing.

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Anonymous's picture

Marble Host (not verified)

January 19th, 2009

Hello,
I love Twitter for the interaction. It naturally leads to knowledge gained and it becomes an investment into future insight. There is a tremendous small biz community, video bloggers, and huge number of journalists.
Really interesting read. I too have just signed up to Twitter, mainly after my other half talking about it constantly, and to be honest I was wondering why on earth I would bothered. Although I still only have a few followers, the more I use it and read about it, the more I think could become an invaluable resource!

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Anonymous's picture

Euronomist (not verified)

February 2nd, 2009

But it can still be useful because you can get answers in a very short time.
Beside this extreme spontaneity need to be masterized through a perfect mix of deiiferent twitter apps.

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Anonymous's picture

vikker (not verified)

February 17th, 2009

When I signed up to twitter i didn't noticed anything dangerous or simply different from another social networks at all. As well as my friends, i don't give a damn

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Anonymous's picture

Anonymous (not verified)

April 3rd, 2009

This is pointless whats the point of twitter, its just people ranting, and want people to follow whats been written. Do you think twitter is the next facebook?

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Anonymous's picture

Ben Sky (not verified)

April 12th, 2009

I aggree very much so with the points you've raised above, i think keeping your social life seperate from your business life is very important. I wouldn't like my clients knowing everything i do, when i do it, who i talk to and how on a social level, i believe thats a recipie for disaster. I still have not joined twitter, i do not have the time or patience to be very honest, the only way i could see it being of any use to me is if i was to sign up as a business and use it to post news as to what im doing on a business level, lika a feed of the work im doing for instance.. also to interact with clients and proffessionals... Not friends who i go to the gym with etc.

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Anonymous's picture

Tom Troughton (not verified)

April 23rd, 2009

I have found that by anwering questions for people they apprieciate the help and then have decided to follow me. It has helped me to build my business so I am pro-Twitter. Tom Troughton -- Follow me! http://twitter.com/TomTroughton

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Anonymous's picture

socialseo (not verified)

May 5th, 2009

Hi,
Thanks for the great comments. There have been some interesting articles since our post above that enlighten this topic even more. Most discuss the ROI of social media sites like Twitter compared to more traditional SEO marketing. One interesting one was posted by Rand over at SEOmoz. I think it's definitely worth the read as it relates to this post:

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/getting-honest-abo...

Thanks again.

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