Does Twitter Help Create True Connections with Customers?

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Let’s be honest: If someone ranked you #1 on a list, you’d be proud and flattered, right? (Assuming, of course, it wasn’t a list of the worst mass murderers or serial rapists). And you’d have to be an idiot to question the methodology that made you #1, right?

I am that idiot.

Technobabble 2.0 is a blog, written by Jonny Bentwood, that follows the IT industry analyst world, and it ranks (using TweetLevel) how influential, engaged, popular, and trusted analysts are on Twitter.

In the most recent ranking, out of 950+ analysts, I was ranked #1 on engagement (but nowhere near the top 10 on influence, which I guess means my Twitter followers are engaged with me, but don’t do what I tell them to).

It was great to be ranked #1 for engagement, but honestly, it raised a bunch of questions in my mind: Is this good (for me and for my business)? Is it OK that I’m engaging people but not influencing them? Am I really doing something right? Is this what I want from Twitter?

Mr. Bentwood praises me for how engaged I am with my Twitter community (I bet that there are at least a few people who follow me on Twitter that would like to inform Mr. Bentwood that he shouldn’t confuse being a snarky, smartass with being engaging).

But what I don’t get is how can any tool or anybody (I distinguish the two so that nobody thinks I’m accusing anybody of being a “tool”) determine that I’m engaged with my Twitter community?

You’d probably think that I would go and show my boss my shiny new #1 ranking, but I haven’t (and won’t). Because I know he’d ask “great, but what has that done for business?”

And I don’t have a good answer to that good question.

I’m sure that my Twittering may have contributed to increased awareness of my firm among a few people. But quantifying that? Impossible.

I’ve been asked, recently, to speak at two different conferences by a couple of people I often tweet with (one who I’ve met in person, the other I haven’t). Would I have been asked to speak if this hadn’t been the case? Possibly.

I’ve come to realize, though, that the benefit of tweeting – for me – isn’t quantifiable. The benefit is in the ability to CONNECT.

A recent article on MarketingProfs said

“Salespeople have long known that establishing rapport with a customer can help close a sale.”

I think this is what I’m trying to do with Twitter – establish rapport.

Thanks to Twitter…

…there are people who I’ve never met in person (and, come to think of it, have never been properly introduced to) that I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call and ask them to participate in some research I’m doing, or ask their opinion on something.

…there are people that I’ve only met in person maybe once or twice but that I’m more comfortable communicating with than I am with some of the people I work with everyday.

…there are some people who probably  “know” me better than some of the people that I work with everyday do. (This can backfire. I once sent @stormtwitter an email telling her how much I appreciated being mentioned in the acknowledgements section of her book, but because of the way I worded the email, she wasn’t sure if I was being sarcastic or not. OUCH.)

It never ceases to amaze me that there are people who herald Twitter as some amazing innovation and advancement in the world of marketing. Yet, they use it to do what marketers have traditionally done in other channels: Push out marketing messages.

If that’s what they want to use Twitter for, that’s fine. That’s their choice. I’m not saying they’re wrong for using the tool that way. Simply saying that I think they’re missing an opportunity to do something that marketers have found very difficult to do in the past: Connect with people.

So, in the end, I don’t care how the engagement score was calculated. I’m going to shut up and take that #1 ranking on engagement.  I’ve realized I don’t use Twitter to influence – that’s what this blog and the reports I write for my employer are for. If TweetLevel thinks I’m doing a good at connecting with people, I’m good with that. Thanks for the ranking, Jonny.

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