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Twitter is everywhere. Individuals and businesses alike herald it as one of the best engagement/communication/collaboration/information sources around.

But what is it worth? And is it worth your time invested?

As of today, Twitter is worth $31.3bn, increased from $24bn on IPO last year (but down from $44bn earlier this year). With 271m active monthly users (source: Twitter), that’s $115 per user.

But what is Twitter worth to you? More or less than $115 (£70)? …and what is Twitter to you?

This whole blog came from laying by the pool on holiday, over summer. Our daughter Gary Chaplinwas in the kid’s club and we were enjoying the rare day’s opportunity to switch off and lay by the pool.

Now days off when you run a small business aren’t really days off, you still have to keep a casual check on things, so I will always check emails every hour or two – my premise being that spending 2 minutes ensuring everything is fine means I can truly switch off for a couple of hours.

Flicking through my phone whilst my wife read, both laid in the sun, I got a sarcastic comment about being on my phone. My defence of “it’s business” Lisa Chaplinwas countered with “but you’re on Twitter”…

“Twitter IS business” was my retort, at which point she went back to reading ‘A Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating’ by Carole Radziwill (I’m assured it’s fiction, not an instruction manual).

 

 

But it got me thinking…. What is twitter worth to MY business?

I lay back and systematically worked through all the businesses I had won/done/completed in the year to date. That was June. My year to date had been just over £110k invoiced. What impact had Twitter had? The results staggered even me. Only one piece of business was NOT directly or indirectly because of Twitter (instead coming from a long standing contact). Twitter was worth, to me, £100,000 in c6 months alone.

Three months on and that metric has been near maintained, but more dramatically so.Gary Chaplin 2 roles have been picked up from long standing contacts, all the remainder, in a busy summer, could be attributed to Twitter. But this now includes even more from previously unknown, never before met contacts.

What about the previous year, my first year? My first year’s turnover was, as you would expect for a first year, a lot leaner. Months of waiting for covenants to expire, start-up momentum and invoice delays waiting for notice period’s to wane at the end of processes meant that my full year turnover was less than my Yr2 H1 turnover – but how much had Twitter impacted that? Less dramatic than Yr2, but still almost 50% coming from Twitter, the larger proportion coming from my own existing contact base (itself now being added to, dramatically, with contacts made through Twitter).

How?

The ways in which Twitter wins business is varied. The two most common routes are relationships that originated from Twitter, or that originate from introductions via people known/met through Twitter. Those relationships still have to be nurtured and developed, but the Social Media site has been the catalyst.

However, two pieces of work concluded and three more under-way, and one currently being pitched for have come directly through approaches from Twitter.

Equally effectively is Twitter’s ability to source candidates/executive Talent. I get dozens of candidates applying to the roles I post on my website after promoting them on Twitter (but doing so humanly, not just a blind list of #JOBS).

Furthermore, I will get 5-10 approaches per day from execs/candidates wanting to ‘stick their toe in the water’ in getting a new role. Twitter has made me a ‘go to’ person for career advice.

First steps

It is 4 years since I first looked at Twitter. My then employer was skeptical and, as many, saw it as a great (potential) business risk with no obvious upside – an opinion shared by many.

I immediately entered the world of tweeting as a business tool. I shunned having my own name and instead made my ‘handle’ descriptive of my profession – @GC_HeadHunter.

The first lesson you learn is that it is a slow start. I took the strategy of listening and observing some of the regular/respected users for six months to understand how they used it, benefitted from it and thus develop my own style, approach and strategy.

Very quickly I realised that it humanised every person I followed and whose style/strategy I wanted to emulate. The Social in Social Media was the key. They also informed and shared knowledge rather than preached….engaged rather than sold. They became, to me, thought-leaders. Through their styles, I built respect for them, wanted to engage with them. Without even meeting them, I trusted them.

It took me 4 months to break through 50 followers. Then a year to get to 500, then a further 3 months to get to 1,000. I now sit at a still modest 4,500, but even that network gave me 69,900 ‘impressions’ and almost 1,500 interactions in the last week alone [w/e 10.10.14 – via Dan at Great Marketing Works]

More importantly, that network has fuelled my business to the extent that in coming up two year in business, I have still not made a ‘Business Development’ call. Imagine that – a recruitment business that has been working at (over) 100% capacity that has never made a DB call. A generation of 90s Recruitment business owners are turning in their career grave.

The whole process harks back to my marketing degree lectures. “Don’t sell to your customers. Get them to buy from you”. That was 20years ago, before the notion of Social Media was a glimmer in the internet’s eye.

Engage, don’t sell.

You have to approach Twitter (or the Twittershere/Twitterverse) in the same way you would a cocktail party or a networking event. You engage; You interact; You show interest in others peoples’ lives; You converse; You get to know the people you meet……

……You do not solely talk about what you do…..You to do not just turn up for 1% of the event then proclaim it doesn’t work…..and you would not walk into such an event, go up to the first person you meet and launch into “My name’s XXXXX, I run training courses and if you agree to use me right now I’ll give you 20% off

And yet so many businesses/people do just that on Twitter. So many will just sell, just talk at their audience and just stick a list of personality devoid sales messages.

Instead, you need to be interesting, be engaging, be human – just as you would at a physical business introduction.

Twitter Vs LinkedIn

LinkedIn was always seen as ‘The Business One” of social media. But not anymore. LinkedIn is dramatically losing it ability to promote engagement, its getting too big and is just, really, a large database. I have almost twice the connection on LinkedIn that I have on Twitter, built up over twice as long, and yet the impact on my business is tiny.

It is good at candidate generation – 4 of this years role have had shortlisted candidates that have been sourced through promoting roles on LinkedIn (compared with 7 on Twitter). Twitter, done right, is a far superior business generation tool, because it promotes engagement!

When asked, a selection of my Twitter followers voted 70/30 in favour of Twitter (LinkedIn followers voted 80/20 in favour of LinkedIn)

My Rules/My Tips:

Be Human. People buy from People.
I very quickly followed a basic 80/20 rule. 80% ‘Business’/20% ‘Personal’. Many people run two accounts – a personal and a business. For me, I am me. People who follow me, know me – the real me, not a corporate persona. They know everything about me. My family; My passions; My politics; My motivations; My opinions; My Life. Marketers talk about Brand Engagement, but the truth is, people would rather interact with real people.

The biggest Social complement I frequently get paid on meeting someone is “You are authentic, exactly as I thought you would be from knowing you on Twitter”.

Engage…it’s not all about you!
For Twitter to be really beneficial you have to engage. Without engagement, Twitter is an egotistical mouthpiece or merely a voyeur information tool. You will never get to know people by only listening to them, or only talking at them. Too many businesses use their Twitter output as a one-way pipe without any attempt to engage with their audience (aka, their customers). Think of Twitter as being like a party – you can RSVP, but you actually have to turn up and get involved to get something from it.

Don’t be Beige….Be Different
From your profile picture to your output, stand out. Be different. Just as with real-world networking, if you stand in the corner not talking, you’ll not make any connections. Stand up, be noticed, rock the boat. Don’t play it too safe, you don’t have to be conventional to succeed on Twitter. Your opinions may be counterintuitive and/or controversial, but as long as you present them in an intelligent and articulate manner, you will make your Twitter world more interesting.

Be Open. Be Authentic.
I’ve always been an open, ‘heart on my sleeve’ individual. That demeanour comes across on Social Media. Know and relay what you stand for; Know and relay how you spend your time; Know and relay what your ‘why’ is. As Phil Jones has said to me: “If you don’t know your within, you go without”

Be Positive.
Don’t use Twitter to whinge. Yes you have to be authentic, but you do have to promote the appropriate image for your business/objectives. Be the person that people want to learn from and engage with. Just as when you first greet someone in a day, be energetic, be upbeat, be enthusiastic.

Understand your aims.
Twitter to me was initially a conduit to the drive traffic to a website. I then quickly realised my twitter account was a platform in it’s own right, performing an omni-channel structure with the corresponding website. To me, and to most, Twitter is low-level PR. It informs the world you are there, what you stand for and gives in insight into you as a person, a business and a potential partner.

Be informative; Be a Thought Leader.
It is important to underpin your profile with ‘thought leadership’. Tweet content is great, but for real insight, you need to go beyond 140 characters. Blogs are a great way of putting your opinions forward and detailing what you stand for. All thought leaders are also bloggers. It isn’t a co-incidence.

Share content.
…but to follow the above, Spread the Love. Don’t just promote your own content….Mix it up with other peoples content and opinions. Share blogs, share articles. The subject and tone (and your comments) help mould what people see in you and think of you. Just make sure you attribute the author – do it well, and that will provide further engagement.

Sell but don’t Sell.
Twitter is not a licence to spam. Use Twitter to introduce your business/yourself to potential customers, but do so with the intention of getting them to engage with you and buy from you. Remember the adage of walking into a dinner party, you wouldn’t immediately launch into a sales-pitch with the first person you meet.

Dress to Impress
Remember the First Impressions blog? Same thing with your Twitter profile, daily. You will ‘meet’ people, your potential customers, everyday. Remember that your Twitter presence is, and needs to be, an extension of your brand.

DIY
Social Media has to be SOCIAL above being MEDIA. My advice is to do it yourself. Agencies can do it for you, alongside doing dozens of others, but if you want to engage with people, as a person, let your personality shine though – do it personally.

Commit the time.
Twitter doesn’t have to be time intrusive. The only defined time I spend on twitter is 10-15 minutes first thing in the morning planning, and scheduling tweets. The rest of the time is opportunistic, using dead time in coffee shop queues, waiting on hold, or just reacting to something in your life. The benefit of 140 characters is that it doesn’t take long to write it.

Don’t give up.
Using Twitter as part of your commercial strategy is not a quick win. You will need to give it time, you will need to keep at it. A timeline not updated for a month can sell against you.

Accept the detractors.
You’ll get plenty of detractors, plenty of people that will denigrate what you do on Twitter – such is life on a public platform. I get them weekly. Ignore and remember it’s done through ignorance, and often envy.

Have Fun!
Enjoy the social interaction, the information gathering, the creativity and the development of your social network. If you do, it will be obvious. And magnetic.


My current year & the impact of Twitter

PR Agency – Operations Director.
Direct approach from Twitter follower

Technical Consultancy – Managing Director
Introduction/Recommendation from Twitter follower

Polymer Compound Manufacturer – International Business Director
Met CEO on Charity Bike Ride, but re-introduced by Twitter follower

PE-Backed NanoTech Group – NED Chairman
Introduction from Twitter follower

Marketing & Events Agency – Client Services Manager
Direct approach from Twitter follower plus placed candidate is Twitter follower

Retail – Chief Operations Officer
Introduction via contact first met through Twitter

Property Management – Operations Director
CEO first introduced via Twitter

Retail – Trading Director
Pre-Existing Client, initially met through Twitter

Retail – CRM Director
Pre-Existing Client, but role triggered due to tweeted blog plus placed candidate is Twitter follower

Omni-Channel Retail – Marketing Director
Introduction via contact first met through Twitter – placed candidate is Twitter follower

Biological Testing Group – Managing Director
Recommendation from Twitter follower

Consumer Finance Group – Customer Relations Director & Finance Roles
Introduction from Twitter follower turned contact

High Street Retail – Senior Category Manager
Long-term client, introduced via Twitter contact. Placed candidate from Twitter

Construction Group – Business Development Director x2
Personal contact but one placed candidate is Twitter follower

 

Twitter impact on current Live Roles

Managing Director (Marketing Agency)…. £80-100k + Equity
Introduction from contact first met through Twitter

Trading Director (High Street Retail)…. £90-£130k + Package
Long-term client, introduced via Twitter contact. Half of LongList is from Twitter

Director of Custom Fabrication…. £100k + Package
Direct approach from Twitter follower

Sales/Marketing Director (Sports Nutrition)…. £80-100k + Package
Introduction from contact first met through Twitter

Retail Operations Director (High Street)…. £80-125k + Package
Introduction from contact first met through Twitter

Sales/Marketing Director (Fashion Label)…. £80-100k + Package
Long-Term contact, placed into role gain through Twitter

Commercial Sales Director (Professional Electronics/AV)…. £75k + Package
Direct approach from Twitter follower

Senior Finance Analyst (Technology Group)…. £50-60k + Package
Direct approach from Twitter follower

Follow ME on Twitter@GC_HeadHunter!