Twitter is an essential business tool if you build community and trust.
Most companies can't see beyond, "how do we sell consumers more stuff with Twitter." If that's the net result you're looking for, it will be a huge waste of time (in the short term).
I was heading to Winnipeg to speak about Personal Branding at a Power Within event (headlined by Anthony Robbins) on Wednesday. When I confirmed my flight in on Tuesday morning, I was asked by the Advertising Association of Winnipeg if I would like to do an event on Digital Marketing. I was fine with doing the keynote presentation so long as they understood that I would be flying in on the same day and "anything" can happen. "Anything" did happen. Heavy fog in Montreal forced a two hour flight delay. I knew I would either be cutting it way too close or if things persisted, I would miss the event entirely.
I hopped on Twitter and tweeted: "need help: anyone know anyone who talks on the subject of Web 2.0 and Social Media and is based in Winnipeg?"
This was at 7:53 am.
I have my online social networks set-up so that when I post to Twitter it also updates my Facebook status with the same message.
Six Pixels of Separation lives - we are all connected.
The event was due to end at 1:30 pm. I landed at 1 pm. The organizers announced to the attendees what had happened and by the time I had arrived at the venue, Joel was just finishing up his presentation and I was able to do mine.
I didn't "know" Joel. Joel didn't "know" me. But we knew each other. We both know the value in getting up in front of a group of advertisers to discuss the many changes that are taking place in the advertising. We both knew that the only way to push these ideas forward is to collaborate and share. We both knew that these channels really do work for business.
I don't know if Joel's message resonated with the audience. I don't know if mine did either. I do know that they got a live, living and breathing case study on how fast, effective and powerful these channels really are.
None of this would have happened were it not for Twitter and these online social channels. Had I not spent the time in Twitter (and on Facebook) building my community, providing value and connecting, there would have been nothing but a busy signal at the other end of that line when I needed to make that emergency call.
Instead, Twitter was the most powerful business tool and business building channel I've seen in a long while.
Yes, the economy stinks. Yes, things are going to change. And, when things change - like they will - who do you think you can count on to help you through it?
Do you still think Twitter and Facebook are a huge time suck for business?
(special thanks to Joel for helping out. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me and Joel is an amazing community citizen. I should also apologize to Tracy and the attendees of the event for the Advertising Association of Winnipeg. No one can control the weather, but I am still deeply sorry for the delay).