I'll admit it. I was beginning to think that Twitter's Oprah-inspired hype was starting to die down, the people who have tried it and deserted are settling out, and the base of constant and committed users was becoming more apparent. I was -- almost -- starting to look for the next new thing. But along comes the election in Iran to remind us that Twitter is still King, at least for now. Not that Twitter has the biggest reach, or the most credible and accurate information (that's a pretty funny idea!). It's the very democracy of the vehicle, and the way it can be used by a relatively small number of people to influence opinion, which makes it so powerful.
As entrepreneurs or marketers in early-stage or small businesses, Twitter is, at a minimum, an easy way to listen to what people are saying, communicate your questions and help people get to know your brand. The real power comes, though, when you can use it as a positive "pyramid scheme" of sorts, with the pyramid occurring only when the content is of real value. As mentioned in his article about the recent Twitter Revolution, Noam Cohen writes that "a popular, trusted user matters more" than other users. Similarly, IdeaCrossing (the online matching service which creates connections between entrepreneurs and investors, among others) recommends that entrepreneurs "retweet posts if they're valuable to your network." With whatever time we can dedicate to this addictive vehicle, we should all choose to create valuable, credible content that really benefits the community and works to achieve the marketing objectives of getting the message out (and hopefully, building reach) while also gathering insight by listening and participating in conversations.
By the way, this summer, JumpStart will be expanding its social media presence beyond this blog, by actively participating on Twitter. Watch soon for our Twitter user names and let me know how we do on adding value.
Cathy Belk is the Chief Marketing Officer of JumpStart. She specializes in branding, marketing communications, and business management. She brings 16+ years of experience in a variety of marketing and business roles, but gets her energy from working daily with entrepreneurs and their growing companies.