Twitter for Business
 – Useful or a Costly Distraction?

Promoting a company website used to be a lot easier. All we had to worry about was packing the page full of relevant keywords, submitting it to Yahoo and a host of smaller search engines and waiting for the magic to happen.

Basic on-page SEO worked for a while.

Now, however, things are harder. Promoting a website no longer involves an afternoon online followed up by offline advertising in traditional media – it involves a concerted, endless social marketing effort, link building campaign and (of course) making sure your website is as search engine friendly as possible.

Note: even keywords are out of the window now – leading SEO company Moz even encourages website developers not to use keywords any more. Search engines ignore them and competitors can use them to learn more about your company (and presumably use that information to your detriment)… but that’s for another blog post. This one’s about Twitter. Is it any good for business? In my opinion, the answer is YES – if used appropriately.

The argument against having anything to do with Twitter which I hear most regularly is that it’s banal. Thousands of people post meaningless messages every second of the day about going to the supermarket, suffering under the cloud of a hangover, standing in a post office queue and a million other snippits of (mostly) useless information. Why join the party?

I must say that when it’s put like that I find it hard to disagree… but I do. The internet is full of meaningless, abusive, offensive, dull and unattractive websites – but it doesn’t stop most of the planet’s legitimate businesses having a company website. I visit the sites that interest me, and ignore the ones that don’t. That simple. Twitter is no different. If you want to read about how long it’s taken for someone to make a boiled egg, you can. But if you don’t – just filter out the dross.

Tinstar regularly sends out tweets for a number of clients, such as Berthon (@BerthonGroup). Berthon is a Lymington-based boatyard and marina. This company is a great example of a multi-faceted, vertically integrated business that has lots to say to many different people. Twitter is a fast and simple way of drawing people’s attention to certain aspects of the business.

For example, whenever we add a new job vacancy to the Berthon website, we send out a ‘Tweet’ such as:

Berthon has a vacancy for a (job title). See a full job description here: #lymington #job

Anyone using a (formerly) third party application like TweetDeck can set it to only show tweets containing the word ‘Lymington’ or ‘job’ – which means that any messages containing those words will only be reaching the people who want to be reached. The link leads to a page on the website where the full details of the job can be found.

Similarly, every time there’s a yacht put on the market through Berthon, or a Marina price change, a new respray completed or a presence at a boat show, appropriate ‘tweets’ can be sent out to let people know about it. Because these contain links to the company website (or other relevant location), this is a practical, fast way of keeping people up to date – without the need for time-consuming blog posting or e-mail marketing which should be reserved for more weighty content.

So Twitter, love it or hate it, can be used to your advantage – just sensibly use it for the benefit of your customers and you’ll slowly but surely build up the ultimate opt-in mailing list.

Article by Nick Beresford-Davies, Director of Tinstar Design Ltd