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Is Twitter Worth It for Businesses?

Twitter is about to go public, and there’s a lot of discussion out there about the social network and how it might evolve. A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal describes Twitter as “a strange, nearly surreal service. Unlike Facebook, it isn’t for everyone.”
Confession time. Twitter just isn’t for me, and for a whole host of reasons. I hopped on Twitter early and built Rocket Matter’s following up to about 1800 people. Once I turned the reigns over to community manager Tim Baran, I disengaged almost completely as fast as I could for a number of years. Now I resumed tweeting, and I get a little enjoyment out of it, but I much prefer Facebook and don’t really go near Twitter unless I specifically remember to.
Is Twitter worth it for businesses? Should professionals be spending a lot of their precious, valuable time on this channel? I’m a skeptic. I know, blasphemy, especially coming from an Internet marketing guy.

Apparently I’m not alone either. As @fmanjoo points out in his WSJ piece:

I don’t think I’ve ever convinced a single person I know in real life to join Twitter. Twitter Inc., the company, seems to have a similar problem. It has long struggled with huge “churn”—many people who sign up don’t use it—and reports suggest that its user growth slowed.

There are people who love Twitter. You can tell who they are and they have fun with it. They follow a zillion people and a zillion people follow them back. It’s part of who they are, and they bond with others on Twitter and really establish good relationships.
I’m just not one of those cats. And Rocket Matter’s data after using Twitter for so many years indicates that the return we get from tweeting is nothing compared to what we get out of our other initiatives.  Most likely, you’re not going to derive business value out of Twitter unless you truly enjoy it, want to be there, or are willing to spend an inordinate amount of time on it compared to other social networks.
I realize this might come as heresy or sacrilege to those that have been announcing to the world that Twitter is fundamental for business and relationship building. I think unless you truly like Twitter and make it big part of who you are, you’re far better off networking and building relationships on Facebook and LinkedIn, or even Pinterest, JD Supra, or Quora.
I don’t suggest professionals abandon Twitter. You need to have a presence on the network to protect your reputation, for starters. It can be a great way for you to meet people, especially at live events. I advise our clients to experiment with Twitter and see if they enjoy using it. But if they don’t take to the network, our advice is to keep a steady drip of Tweets going but spend no more than a few minutes each day on the channel.
There’s just a lot more marketing return and relationship building opportunities for busy professionals elsewhere.