I’m asked this question a lot so decided to answer it in a blog post.
THE SHORT ANSWER
The simple answer, if you don’t have time to read this article:
– If you commit to it and enjoy it: yes
– If you don’t really like it but think you should shove some things out there because it’ll get business: no
If you think Twitter will rapidly increase your client flow, it won’t.
THE LONG ANSWER
Most digital media companies will try to sell you social media services (updating your Twitter or FaceBook accounts) but I’ve never seen this work successfully. And let me clarify what ‘work‘ means. It means, does the money you spend on paying someone to tweet pointless messages, generate sufficient income to pay for the person tweeting pointless messages. The answer in my experience is almost certainly no. Some might, but I’ve not seen it.
That’s not to say that tweeting isn’t useful or can benefit your business. It absolutely can. I’m just saying that getting someone else to do it isn’t the answer because they won’t know your business. To make Twitter work, YOU need to own it. Twitter is a personal medium, it’s a digital stream of consciousness and should reveal the beating heart of you or your practice. When I say you this can mean one of two things.
- The people in your business – the front line team, your secretary, receptionist, partner – all engage and commit to getting involved.
- You personally do it and knit your private life (an essence of yourself) into your professional voice.
Let’s be clear there is nothing worse than a Twitter feed that constantly talks about business. A feed that is a constant stream of sales messages will be largely ignored no matter how often you do it. Conversely, a Twitter feed that has a human feeling to it will get people to follow you.
Sure, you’re an Orthopaedic Surgeon, but perhaps you’re a keen mountain biker, like to go and watch Coldplay, have amusing teenage kids, like to swan off on a 5-star week in Dubai, whack a few golf balls at the weekend, do a course on the latest ball joint technique, take the husband for a romantic meal, get the decorators in to revamp the clinic, have an amusing cat, hire new staff, love motorbikes, bought a new pair of killer heels, got stuck on the tube, went to Harvey Nics for a martini, quite like your new iPhone, treated a patient that changed their life (link to the blog and case study). You get the picture.
Follow peers and people you like. Engage with them, like their posts, share their work. It’s a two-way conversation.
Twitter is about you, first and foremost; the ebb and flow of your life or practice interspersed with Tweets about you and the general world you inhabit. Think of Twitter as a bar. Nobody goes into a bar and starts endlessly blathering on about their job in the corner. You talk, you listen, you make small talk, the conversation goes in and out, sometimes meaty and about business, sometimes about how rubbish the weather is.
Twitter as a commercial proposition is a long game. What you’re doing is constantly reminding people you’re there so that when the time comes for them to need your service then you’re the person they go to.
It’s also good to remember that life isn’t all about work and making money. Your professional standing, your interest in your sector, your friends and peers are all important to you and on the most social (non-revenue making) level, it’s actually great fun. You find out what people are up to and stay in touch with people you may lose contact with. Sometimes it’s good to do something because it’s fun.
The one key takeaway is that to do Twitter well you need to commit and more importantly enjoy it.