Twitter? What do I do with this Twitter?

That question was recently put to me by a perspective client who kept coming back to Twitter when I began listing some available social media tools.

Face Book didn't seem to faze him as much. Perhaps it was due to the recent profile it received in the news regarding its privacy issues.   

As for You Tube or LinkedIn, I didn’t make it that far - we were "twipping" over Twitter.

"I don’t have time to go to the bathroom let alone twitter about it.  And how’s it gonna make me money, anyway?"

Twitter has got a bad rap; time to go into witness protection and get a new name.  It’s like introducing "Bunny" as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company – difficult to take seriously (apologies to any Bunny execs out there)

As much as social media is not about the tools, the tools are what people see and how they define it.  Yes, the use of Twitter can be vacuous, but so can the  telephone:

“Hi, what’cha doin’?”
“Nothing, what you doin’?”
“Nothing much... (insert Harold Pinter pause) there?”
“Yeah, … what you listening to?” etc.

Early Twitter application:

There’s a great post from Barry Davis today that gives 4 examples of why people are cynical about social media: 4 Reasons You Should Avoid Social Media

1.      It’s just a fad
2.      It takes a Geek
3.      It’s a digital black hole
4.      We’re already too busy 

The last point is the one that I find myself having to address the most often. 

How do you reply to someone, especially in the service industry, who says that they’re too busy to use social media?

Are they too busy to speak with customers?  Are they too busy to listen to customers?  Are they too busy to build their brand and reputation? 

Having managed restaurant before, I can totally empathize with the owner/manager. But he doesn't run the company by himself and there maybe staff who are already on social media; the maitre‘d? The Bartender?, The sommelier?

Twitter is the least time intensive application and, especially for restaurants, the most spontaneous.

Just as there are many tools in the social media toolbox, there are just as many applications available that can maximize their efficient use. 

As long as you have a clear idea of what you want to say and who you want to say it to, a solid media plan will be worth the investment in time. 

Going back to the original question, with Twitter you can check out the competition, find out who's talking about you, listen to client feedback and provide a megaphone for your fans to spread the word about you.

What you shouldn't do with Twitter is this...