Yesterday I gave an informal presentation to a group of solopreneurists on social media and online marketing. Twitter, of course, came up.
And I realized just how much it's became a normal part of my life, work and otherwise. And how much it is not, for many others. They kept getting stuck on the question/concern of how much time it would take a day to make use of it, like it was another something to put in a 30 minute box of time, time they didn't think they had, and it wasn't billable.
I could tell this would take much more time than I had to make clear to them the reality of, and what it feels like to use Twitter.
So why Twitter? There are many reasons for many people, but let me tell you about one that happened just last night, that pertains to the green space. A budding green entrepreneur contacted us at Ecopreneurist, one of the green business blogs I write for. They were feeling conflicted that their product, designed green from the floor up, would likely need to be manufactured in China. Would they get grief from consumers for doing that, was it even worth doing? This is definitely not a black & white issue, and the first thought that came to mind is ask on Twitter.
If you're not familiar with Twitter, you have 140 characters to say something, and people can "follow," or subscribe to what you say on there. Here's a great 2 minute primer on what it's all about. At the time of this writing, I have 682 people following me. And many of them are either in the green business realm or make green lifestyle choices.
So I asked, "If you had an otherwise all green product, but could only have them made in China, would you? Or would you be concerned abt criticism?"
Within a few minutes an active conversation had started, 4 responses kicking it off, all very different and thought provoking.
OliverRanch put it succinctly when she said : "If you can stand behind the green, you can overcome the China."
HollyFowler probed deeper, asking: "Depends on how far the product needs to travel to customer. Is the supply chain for the product all 'green' as well?"
Covering the more business facing sector as well, tomkimmerer said: "There are good manufacturers in China, e.g. Lenovo. Third party certification would establish B2B and B2C trust."
NikkiJade put her foot down in a way that I imagine confirms to an extent that entrepreneur's fears when she said, "No-shipping alone diminishes huge from it's otherwise eco-friendly nature. & there are too many human rights issues with China"
And on it went, with me responding and the conversation taking interesting, unexpected turns. Had this been a client of mine, all of it would prove quite insightful. And this happens all the time. With a good group of followers, you have a built in brain trust, ready to help you puzzle through what you're working on, or quickly get the pulse on things.
So why do you use Twitter? How have you found it helpful? What's your take on the China/green question?
I've used Twitter enough and observed successful uses of it by individuals and companies enough to be able to help companies successfully wade into the waters of Twitter. And I'd be glad to do it for yours.
Yes, at the core of it, it's 140 characters to answer the question "What are you doing?" But it's much richer than that, and with the right tools and foundation of knowledge to start, it can be so many things: A source of publicity, a place to learn about newly developing trends, a chance to interact directly with customers, and for them to get a more 360 degree view of you/your company. All of which can only benefit your bottom line and make the path between you and customers shorter and more fruitful for all involved.
The kid in me likes to think of it as a web enabled Magic 8 Ball. The grown up in me thinks it's a great way to develop robust relationships, 140 characters at a time.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, blogs weekly on green start ups of note at Triple Pundit and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.