I am of the belief that social media is and will be a game changer for SME’s or local businesses located anywhere in this world. However, for this we need to use the platform of 140 characters effectively. The net is overloaded with ‘how to’ articles on Twitter, making money from Twitter, etc. so I am not going to restate it. But my question is this – “Can objective always define success of social media or social networks such as Twitter”? People may debate that Twitter is an information network but I believe it is a conversation network too.
The question arises from an article that was recently published by Karthik Srinivasan on his blog. Karthik, a well known prolific blogger pens his thoughts on social media, brands, etc. Recently, he wrote an article on why he thinks that the Indian Prime Minister’s Twitter account need not converse with anyone on Twitter. The argument that Karthik put across was this – Twitter is an independent network driven by individual objectives. So the PM’s Twitter handle is for awareness and hence it’s fair in ignoring conversations with it’s followers. Along with this Karthik also mentioned that the Twitter account should make it’s objective clear like some of the journalists have done. Fair enough but that raised a set of new questions in my mind:
1. If Obama can tweet then why our PM’s office is so scared about it? I have addressed this in one of my article earlier.
2. The big question is – can SME’s ignore conversations? And say that – “Sorry we are on Twitter for broadcasting and we won’t respond to any of your queries nor we would indulge in any conversations.”
I think SME’s can’t ignore conversations for the following reasons:
1. You are not a PM: A bigger brand or a personality which has a strong offline clout, can choose to do so. Like for example our Prime Minister or a celebrity or a multinational brand. But an SME can’t. You are not one of them and let’s be realistic that nobody knows you. So if you are on Twitter and punching your links day and night then no one would notice except bots.
2. People hate a network with a junk of links: People are on Twitter because it is simple and a quick way to converse. However, since your objective is to spread awareness, you would only share links which people may find as spam. Indulging in conversations is not about being cool but it is about respecting the presence of your community.
3. You lose out on knowledge growth: Everyone is gifted with some unique talent. So unless you talk to them, you will never learn, except if you think you are a genius and know everything. Over the time on Twitter, I have learnt a lot from people and this could only happen because I built a relationship with them on Twitter. Today I have a small group of like-minded people who say a hello to me because I made the first move to say a hello to them!
4. You lose your champions: People follow you because they like you for what you are. This feeling obviously cultivates when you are open to conversation but at the same time dies when you don’t respond and ignore them. They may talk to you once but will surely move on since you started ignoring them. If we think rationally, the loss is for the SME who has lost it’s champions, who could have been nurtured.
5. You lose business: Lets say some people follow you since you curate content well but if you ignore their questions and queries then I suppose you are losing business and worthy followers too. Feedback is important for SME’s to scale and if a SME chooses to ignore it considering it’s objective, then it is killing its online business.
I believe that there is hardly any difference in the offline and online world. The way people avoid you when you don’t show concern and respect in the offline world, is the way they avoid on Twitter too. After all both worlds are run by humans!
Still after reading my arguments, if you as a SME think that you should not converse on Twitter and just blow your trumpet then I would love to hear your reason in the comments.