Twitter could kill your business if you fall victim to the condition Enterotwittus. This is a “gut feeling” present in many business owners that spending hours each day using Twitter will actually help their business. Whilst it might help their business, taking time away from work it could actually lead to the death of the company in these difficult times.

You could well have Enterotwittus without knowing it. A clue to whether you are likely to suffer is that you once had Facebookitis, the condition where you just couldn’t stay away from Facebook, writing on people’s walls, sending messages, adding notes and poking people all day long – all in the hope that it would improve your business.

Another trigger for Enterotwittus is having suffered from Ecademosis. This has been happening to some people for over ten years now. They spend half their day writing comments on threads in Ecademy and posting articles in the clubs.

The truth of the matter is that Twitter, Facebook and Ecademy can all help your business. People are making money using each of these social networking tools. However, equally, there are people losing money. They have a butterfly approach to online tools for business.

One month they try Twitter – because “everyone else is doing it”. Before that it was Facebook Pages – “because someone told me they are a must”. It might have been Ecademy club leadership before that – “because it seemed like a good idea”. Many people are diving into using online social network tools because they either think it might help their business, or because they know someone who has used these tools successfully in business.

But you have to look at the people who have been successful with tools such as Twitter. What have they done that has helped them make money, or gain business? The chances are they have had a plan; rather than just diving in and using the system in some haphazard kind of way, they have been more strategic about it.

In these rather desperate economic times, many businesses are now grasping at anything they think will lead to cash. This means that some people are busy Tweeting away in nothing more than the hope that it will lead to income. They have heard that other people have made money using Twitter, so they dive in and spend much time Tweeting without any real success.

The problem is, while they are busy Twittering, their competitors are doing other things that allow them to really communicate with their customers. Spending too much time on Twitter, or Facebook, or any other social network could reduce the time you have to do real business. Of course, it may well be that many of your customers do indeed spend much of their time reading Tweets, looking at Facebook and so on. So, if you didn’t use such tools you would also lose business.

The trick – if it is a trick – is to find out where your potential customers are located. If they are on Facebook, then use it avidly. If they are Twitter fans, then Tweet away like crazy. But if they don’t use either of these social networking tools, you can Tweet away or poke away as much as you like but it will do you no financial good.

So here are a few things you can do:

  • Survey your customers and find out the extent of the usage of social networking tools
  • Also ask your customers for their Top 10 favourite web sites
  • Find out from your customers what newspapers and magazines they read
  • Discover what meetings, exhibitions and conferences your customers attend

Now you’ll know where you are most likely to be in front of your customers – and the proportion of the time you should spend on each. For example, if 10% of your customers use Twitter each day, but 40% of them read The Times each day it would suggest you should spend 10% of your marketing budget and resources on Twitter and 40% on getting PR in The Times.

In other words, Twitter, Facebook and their ilk can really help many businesses. But they might not help yours. Only by having a strategy based on research will you really know. Trying Twitter and seeing what happens will be helpful, but wasting time on it will be harmful. And if you end up spending time on Twitter, hoping it will help your business, you will simply be another candidate for Enterotwittus; and the prognosis for that is not good – potential financial ruin.

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