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To Tweet or Not To Tweet: That is the Question

You have heard this before: “Tweeting is stupid. What the hell does that have to do with my business and job?” 175 million users, 300,000 added every day and 95 million tweets a day. Today it can save you time, money and enhance your knowledge to do a better job and maybe get a raise. Yeah right.

I must admit when I first started most folks talked about stupid stuff, like where they ate and what movie they saw. What does it have to do with business? What really prompted me was listening to the Chief Marketing Officer of {complink 1688|Eastman Kodak Co.}, Jeff Hayzlett, talk about the benefits of tweeting. If you do not tell your company's story who would? Then Twitter was on the cover of TIME magazine with all its virtues. Geez, how could I miss this communications game changer? You should not either.

I was at a recent CMO conference and a speaker said 80 percent of tweets were a waste of time. I didn’t want to interrupt, but I would have liked to say 80 percent of my tweets are just the opposite. It’s all about who you follow.

Over the past year tweeting has changed. Today many companies that offer products you buy have tweets on their new products and services that will tell you the latest technology. Why would you not want to know what’s new when it happens? Many tweets have attachments to full and informative articles.

A global distributor like {complink 577|Avnet Inc.} has over 3 dozen tweeters who describe the latest trends in technology from our 500 tech suppliers ranging from {complink 2470|IBM Corp.}, {complink 2376|Hewlett-Packard Co.}, {complink 4092|Oracle Corp.}, {complink 3426|Microsoft Corp.} to {complink 2657|Intel Corp.} and {complink 3517|Molex Inc.}.

The following, starting with me, may be of interest to you.

  • AvnetOnDemand — Information on new videos and general information from Avnet's educational tech video portal.
  • AvnetDesignWire — Information of interest to design engineers.
  • Customers Matter — Customer service is an art – one we're dedicated to mastering. Help us learn what matters to you.
  • Avnet X-fest – Global tech training programs.
  • Avnet Jobs — Owner: Claudia Reilly – for career postings and news.

In my business — marketing and communications — I learn something every day from the folks I cover. I follow the tech publications, Wall Street Journal to B2B magazine, journalists, authors, our suppliers and other mentors. I also have some laughs from goofs I know and sports info on the spot.

How much time do I spend on Twitter? Normally 5 minutes a day, in the morning and before bed. Also when I’m bored in an airport or waiting somewhere. Five minutes a day make you smarter and beat your competition. Yep, 140 characters can do it.

PS

Do you want to get started? Sign in at Twitter, then follow me at Al Maag. (All things Avnet plus a little marketing and baseball thrown in) and look at who I follow and you will see dozens of tech industry suppliers and publications that you may also want to track.

52 comments on “To Tweet or Not To Tweet: That is the Question

  1. Ariella
    December 27, 2010

    Some people do seem to treat Twitter as a broadcast to the world of whatever they would text.  So today there are many Tweets about the snow, for example. But some businesses do use it as tool for effective business communication, pointing to job openings and the like, as you mention in your post.  It's all what you make of it.

  2. Himanshugupta
    December 27, 2010

    i never get hang of the social network sites such as Facebook or twitter. The problem with me is that i like my privacy and most of the time people talk absurd stuff on such social networks. Considering the amount of messages i receive on facebook (i have an active account but i do check it often), i can never keep track of the messages. Tweeter is even worse. I do not know how i can benefit from them in my professional life, may when i move to marketing/sales!

  3. Ariella
    December 27, 2010

    You can filter for yourself by eliminating some people from your newsfeed.  Another option is to organize your social media flow through applications like http://www.tweetdeck.com/ or http://hootsuite.com//

  4. Himanshugupta
    December 27, 2010

    thanksAriella for the tips. As i never used tweeter so i did not know/ search for options to customize it. How often do you use twitter and for what purpose mainly. As 140 words is not enough to write stories so i guess the tweets should be concise!?

  5. Ariella
    December 27, 2010

    Mostly I use Tweets to link to online articles — my own and a few select others.  Once in a while I will reply to someone's Tweet, but I don't really start conversations through it by Tweeting individuals or put out trivial queries like “What are you making for dinner?” Though I've seen a number of people claim that Twitter serves as a forum for people to publish their complaints about businesses, I've never used it in that way.

  6. saranyatil
    December 28, 2010

    all these question just boils down to how we are going to utilize the website i definitely feel tweeting once a day, spending couple of minutes is a good exercise. for me i have definitely had loads of benefites especially in building contacts expandiny my network and finding loads of interesting people . it has definitely helped me in understanding lot of business and ideas. tweeting is GOOD always there will be pro s and cons it depends on how we optimize them.

  7. Taimoor Zubar
    December 28, 2010

    In order to communicate effectively with your audience, the organization needs to make it's presence where the audience is. Social media is one avenue which has gathered millions of users under one umbrella. That's what makes Twitter and Facebook such effective tools of communication. I feel communication with the customers through social media will increase a whole lot in the upcoming years as more and more organizations develop their social presence and begin to realize it's benefits.

  8. Taimoor Zubar
    December 28, 2010

    As 140 words is not enough to write stories so i guess the tweets should be concise!?”

    I think of the reasons why Twitter is so beautiful is because of this limit in characters. It makes it a whole lot easier to follow on a number of ideas and information at one time. It also makes sure the Tweeter keeps the message concise and interesting.

  9. Tony Massimini
    December 28, 2010

    One needs to use Twitter judiciously especially for any professional communications.  While I enjoy getting news about what is happening in our industry, I do not want to be flooded.

    Several “tweets” over the course of a day are OK.  But I have had as many as a dozen or more in the span of a few minutes from the same source.  I am not exagerating. This happens several times and I will stop following this person.

     

    You are talking so loud that I can not hear you.

  10. Violet
    December 28, 2010

    Tweeting can be a great resource but how in the world do you spend only 5 minutes a day on Twitter and get great information? Yes, I understand it's about who you follow – but even those people sometimes have a tendency to add junk. It can be frustrating and time-consuming.  I do use Twitter, just not as much as I probably should.

  11. Ariella
    December 28, 2010

    I have the exact same reaction, Tony. I've begun “unfollowing” people who Tweet constantly and offer massive quantity and little quality.

  12. Himanshugupta
    December 28, 2010

    'Unfollow' those who tweet a lot can become issue especially when they are friends or just 'i know them'. I have seen cases in my friend circle where people got offended when they got blocked on facebook or orkut! So i guess selective reading can be a way out.

  13. Ariella
    December 28, 2010

    On Facebook, you can simply eliminate them from the newsfeed without eliminating them from your list of Friends. I don't believe there is a parallel option on Twitter. So you may risk offending them if they really keep a watch on who is still following them.  They would have to be on the lookout, though, because, as far as I know, Twitter does not send out notifications that someone has stopped following you,  Also as Twitter is not set to be reciprocal the way Facebook is, they can continue to follow you unless you block them from doing so.  I don't feel compelled to follow every single person who follows me on Twitter, so if they choose to follow me as a means to gain another follower, they may be disappointed.

  14. Tony Massimini
    December 28, 2010

    Some of the comments for following or unfollowing seem more appropriate to social connections and friendships.

     

    If we restirct our discussion to the professional use of twitter I think there is some business etiquette that needs to be developed.  As I said in a prior post, it must be used judiciously.  You need to be careful to not alienate those who are following you.  You need to send tweets that are of interest.  When you tweet you are trying to reach to someone and get their attention.  Make your tweets worth reading.

  15. nishu
    December 29, 2010

    hi dear Ariella i am nishant From india..

    i am wanted to talk to you please join me on my facebook account is nverma089@gmail.com thank you…

  16. Susan Fourtané
    December 29, 2010

    I have also started to suffer from massive quantity of tweets, which coincide with pointless. Some people have talked about the benefits of Twitter in Marketing or to be updated with the latest news of whatever interests you, but I haven't seen the great benefits yet. On the other hand, I am seeing that some people just have to write something without saying anything. 

    -Susan 

  17. Ariella
    December 29, 2010

    Susan, I absolutely agree.  I suppose we should be grateful that people are limited to so few characters for their posts on nothing. At least they don't have to expand it to a minimum word count as does the hypothetical student writer in “How to Say Nothing  in 500 Words.” I used to distribute copies of that piece to my students in Freshman Composition.

  18. Susan Fourtané
    December 29, 2010

    Exactly, Tony. “Make your tweets worth reading.” That's how I think, too.

    If it's business or personal I would say that every tweet should carry some meaning worth to be read. I really hate it when I read several pointless tweets. Even if it's just a few characters it sums up and at the end it's several minutes wasted in reading nothing. 

    Maybe some time in the future there will be a Tweeter etiquette.  

    -Susan

  19. Susan Fourtané
    December 29, 2010

    Ariella, I am very grateful they have to limit themselves in saying nothing. Or, could that be the reason why they send many consecutive tweets? 

    Thanks for the link. 🙂 Maybe some twitters could use “etc.” after a couple of words. 

    -Susan 

  20. Susan Fourtané
    December 29, 2010

    Himanshugupta, yes, selective reading is a good option. Once you have spotted who sends dozens of pointless tweets a day or you see you are not interests in what someone tweets you can start training your eyes to become selective when seeing the pictures. That could save some time and nerves.

    -Susan

  21. mfbertozzi
    December 29, 2010

     

    I think a way to approach a possible answer for (good) Al's question, could be: “Well, I am using tweets for business or individual social connection?”. In fact, depending on the choice, Twitter platform provides different API/features and possibilities (twit'biz or basically twit') then right etiquette to apply within tweets among you and followers.  Based on this approach, you can build steps ahead like “cotweet” for example and so on. Is there someone's getting conversations in one stream for business ?

  22. Ariella
    December 29, 2010

    A Tweet pointed me to a post that gives the results of a poll on what causes people to unfollow.  See http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2010/12/29/when-it-comes-to-social-networks-how-much-is-too-much/

  23. Susan Fourtané
    December 29, 2010

    Interesting link, Ariella. Thanks. 

    In my case, I feel something is too much when it tires me, gives me nothing positive and doesn't leave room for my own thinking time. If that makes sense. Yes, there is a need for distraction, less serious communication and all. The question is if we want to do everything with everybody. Social media is still developing and it seems we are all learning about what it works and what it doesn't work for us. It is interesting from a philosophical and psychosocial point of view, too. 

    -Susan

  24. jbond
    December 29, 2010

    Tony – I can't agree more, most tweets aren't worth reading and are meaningless. If people put more time into their tweets and had a more business like approach I think more people would follow them or atleast get involved but much of the social networking has become extremely childish and not worth reading.

  25. prabhakar_deosthali
    December 30, 2010

    I think all these Social Networking sites provide an open worldwide platform where depending upon your interest you can create your own domains to serve your purpose. Like what Avnet like companies seem to have  done you can use these media for connecting with your customers in a more informal way. Only thing is that because some people use  these sites to put their minute-by-minute  sneezing and yawning scores just to pass time . If we are able to filter such content then All these media can serve a very good purpose.

  26. itguyphil
    December 30, 2010

    True. But that's the case for almost anything on the web. Websites, FB, Twitter, etc. The web is full of great content and productive sources. It's also flooded with more junk and distractions. Focus is key when it comes to building and maintaining a good audience.

  27. Ms. Daisy
    December 30, 2010

    My call is to Tweet if that is where the customers are, sneezing, yawning or not. Meet them where they are and engage their interest. Customer service is getting to know your client and serving their needs. The data in the social media is a good source of information to go after people who will like buy your goods.

  28. bolaji ojo
    December 30, 2010

    Agreed. Corporate tweeting is not the same as social tweeting. Companies have to engage customers where they congregate and Twitter offers businesses a chance to use a widely adopted technology to disseminate information quickly — and cheaply. Businesses don't use Twitter to announce what the CEO had for breakfast but they use it to announce new products, updates, expansion programs, appointments and the like. Those who sign up for a company's Tweet know what they most likely will get. A company that sends inappropriate Tweets will no doubt get punished immediately. It's just another tool in the hands of a smart marketing team and we can expect more of such applications in future.

  29. maou_villaflores
    December 31, 2010

    I agree with you Boljaji. Companies should used this social networking for their marketing strategies. People are so into social networking nowadays and this is most efficient and lesser cost way of advertising.

  30. hwong
    December 31, 2010

    I don't know how helpful is tweeting when it comes to promoting a company's products. Perhaps it depends on what kind of products. If the target market is someone like the elderly who does not tweet, then I don't see the point of tweeting. I personally have not gotten interested in tweeting. I'd rather look in Yelp or Facebook.

  31. maou_villaflores
    December 31, 2010

    You can link your tweeter to any social networking such facebook.Take note we are talking about electronic products here and IMHO this social networking tool is very convenient option to market electronic products. 

  32. Backorder
    December 31, 2010

    You have genuilnely motivated me to revisit my twitter page and get it on my blackberry. Hope it turns out to be a real ' game changer ' in my communications scheme of things..

  33. Susan Fourtané
    December 31, 2010

    That's right, pocharle. Focus is the key. And how can you focus on something meaningful if half of what some people tweet is irrelevant not only for business but also at personal level. I still don't understand why people would tweet broadcasting they are going to take a nap or have a shower or are at X place. You have to teach yourself to ignore those tweets when you only can get the news or some relevant and interesting information in 10 minutes tops and move on to your next activity, right?

    -Susan

  34. bolaji ojo
    December 31, 2010

    Right. I think the tweets that are most read in the business world are the ones that offer usable information rather than blah blah blah drooling. However, do you think there's any role at all for personal information in the corporate world? For instance, tweets that offer a glimpse into an executive's lifestyle could also be mined for information that may help current and potential partners develop a better strategy for relating with the individual.

    A tweet about where an executive is going on vacation, for example, could offer an opportunity for dialogue and development of a social relationship that could also be useful in the corporate environment. Of course, the reverse could also happen; flood of unwelcome advice/suggestions about the destination in the executive's mail box.

  35. Hawk
    December 31, 2010

    I do not tweet and have absolutely no current need to. Hopefully I won't need it in future too. Twitter is one of those services that make no products or engineer anything. It's a service you pin on your lapel. Several years ago the rage was blogging. Jack, Jill and the neighbor's pet poodle had their own blogs. Twitter must offer certain benefits to some people but most engineers avoid it because of the mindless drivel that comes with it. I know it will fade away in the near future but only to be replaced by a new variation of blah, blah, blah.

  36. hwong
    December 31, 2010

    I Agree that tweeting is just a way of exhibiting one's desire to connect with people. It makes people feel like they are part of the community. I guess tweeting is not unlike creating your own web page but provide even more minute details about oneself.

  37. Anna Young
    January 1, 2011

    I suppose tweeting makes sense businees wise; consumers want to be part of the marketing process. There is no doubt that it has proven to yield returns on investment, through interaction, engagement and ideas . For these purposes I agree.

  38. Susan Fourtané
    January 1, 2011

    Sure. I can just imagine how annoying it could be for someone to open his mailbox and find lots of unwanted suggestion for his next trip to his favorite destination. 

    But yes, I agree a little glimpse about the executive's lifestyle and preferences can be useful for a potential partner. In some countries a common practice is to have business breakfasts. It makes the business meeting more relaxed as the nice environment in which they take place unconsciously helps and invites to a more personal treatment and sharing before getting into the business topic. In these cases, having seen a tweet about the executive in question pondering certain kind of places or food likes might be useful at the time of choosing the place for the business breakfast. In the same scenario, the information about the preferred vacation place could be used as an ice-breaker. 

    -Susan

  39. Barbara Jorgensen
    January 5, 2011

    After reading Al's blog and Laurie Sullivan's, I came up with a questions I'd like to pose to the industry: is there a filter for social media? In other words, if I use Salmon, can I set it to alert  me when certain users post, or certain topics are discussed? That would go a long way toward cutting through all the drivel.

  40. Hardcore
    January 5, 2011

    I think the only reliable filter for a medium such as 'twitter'  is the power-switch on ones computer.

    Unfortunately as technology improves, it also improves the opportunity for certain groups of people to indulge the fantasy that they are somehow more 'interesting' than the rest of us, and the need to indulge the 'warm and fluffy' feelings of sharing mindless drivel.

    It is sad that such insecurities are loosing mankind massive amounts of productive time and resources and for what?

    I read recently in the DailyMail, that the under 25's now think it is better to 'tweat' than send an email. I still remember when people had to send a fax, which meant you got interrupted about once or twice a day, along comes email and now we are being interupted 20 times a day, if this 'tweating' for business takes off, then it's going to be  once or twice a minute,  heck….. soon we will be holding face to face meetings and we all know how productive most of those turn out to be.

    The real casualty in all of this, is going to be the loss of thoughtful thinking and proper presentation of business communication. Can you imagine a Microsoft anti-trust court case, where some of the 'tweet' is related to business but the majority is related to inane chatter.

     

     

  41. Barbara Jorgensen
    January 5, 2011

    Your “on/off” comment made me lol…

    I tend to agree with you about Twitter and digital communication in general. As easy as it is, everything is boiled down to an abbreviation or symbol and spelling has gone by the wayside (even long before social media). And sharing what you had for lunch with the world…was this ever important, short of recommending a place to your friends?

    At the same time, I'm open to discussion about how social media fits in to business. A lot of smart people tell me that it does, and some of these people have a pretty good track record in keeping ahead of trends.

    In the meantime, thanks for your feedback!

     

     

  42. Al Maag
    January 7, 2011

    thanks for comment, I feel strongly as Avnet get's bigger over $20 b…we need to show a personality as to type of people you are working with…in the end it is a people biz and trust and working with nice people is key.

    Also, In my case i want to know if I'm dealing with a White Sox or Cub fan 🙂 or worse a Packer fan…

  43. Al Maag
    January 7, 2011

    great repsonse, my point was simple if you follow informative folks you will really get good info that can impact your career…

  44. Al Maag
    January 7, 2011

    Thansk

    I really thought the same way, but as a I narrowed down the folks I followed were experts in their field…I learn something everday…seriously. I would suggest u try it.

  45. Al Maag
    January 7, 2011

    Thanks for comment…I dont believe tweeting replaces branding but it does become another tactic in marketing…any tactic can be poorly used.

  46. Al Maag
    January 7, 2011

    THanks for responding…BINGO…a little fun mixed in does not hurt.

  47. Al Maag
    January 7, 2011

    thanks for responding…its about who u follow.

  48. Al Maag
    January 7, 2011

    thanks fully agree

  49. Damilare
    January 31, 2011

    tweeting is a very good way of promoting or advertising a product. its a cheap way of making something known to groups of people or the entire world. its also a good place for surveys, and statistics gathering of whats people think about any topic.

  50. electronics862
    January 31, 2011

    Tweeting is really great especially when it comes to promoting your business. An easy way to tell thousands of people about it.Its a way to build a professional network, extend your reach and build your brand.

  51. SME_Business_services
    April 9, 2011

    Apart from established Social Media experts who have by the power of their own campaigns and publishing know how have come to the forefront, almost anyone can present themselves as a Social Media guru. It is important for business owners to realise that this new media is an extension direct marketing efforts. With the right partnerships for marketing Social Media can be used as a powerful device to enhance your influence on the internet.

    Thanks,

    SME blog-Top b2b blog india | manufacturers business blog | b2b marketplace blog

  52. Nemos
    April 9, 2011

    I have a tweeter account, but I rarely use because instead of using tweeter, I am using Facebook (and still don't understand where are the differences ….)

    I totally agree with the article, and I have seen a lot of folks start to use social media to promote their business.

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