I think the growth – and buzz – around Twitter at the moment exceeds anything I can remember to do with the online world. Even Google, 8 or 9 years ago (and perhaps the “world wide web” itself, 15 years ago) didn’t get the sort of coverage in traditional media which Twitter is currently getting. According to Experian Hitwise, Twitter now accounts for more than 1 in 200 UK internet visits, and an astonishing 12% of visits to the website are coming from new users. Yet the opportunity – indeed the necessity – to get in there now and to start building a following is being overlooked by the vast majority of B2B companies.
The excuses are the same as we’ve heard for every other facet of online marketing which eventually became something no company could live without, from having a website to investing in a Google AdWords campaign. “We’ll wait and see how it settles down” is one. “I’m sure we can catch up if our competitors seem to be having success with it” is another. “I really can’t be doing with anything else” is the unspoken excuse.
Ten years ago, I spent a lot of time suggesting to companies that they start building email lists. Only a few listened, and we helped many get started, but several of those now publish regular newsletters which go out to 10,000 or more prospects for minimal cost. Every single newsletter is requested – and the vast majority are digested. Those companies have every right to feel very smug. Nowadays everyone sends out opt-in email newsletters, but those companies who’ve only joined the game in the last two or three years have circulations in the hundreds, not thousands. And they’ll never catch up.
I can’t guarantee Twitter will be as important as email in ten years’ time, although I can see how it might – people are rapidly lurching towards media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn where they’re in complete control of who they receive messages from. What I can guarantee is that you won’t regret getting on board with Twitter right now. Building a following is a function of time, and the earlier you start, the better.
I’d be very interested to hear about any businesses who got in early and are already seeing a decent following. I notice that our friends at Renishaw, who are so often ahead of the game, have already got over 1,100 followers on their Twitter feed. That’s probably more than many companies have got on their opt-in email circulations which have been built over several years.