If you hate the idea of advertising because you think it’s an interruption or it’s too expensive, yet you love Twitter, you are just going to hate this post. But you should read it anyway because it will probably help you.
Twitter is an advertising medium. It is very similar in nature to a magazine or blog.
It would be a stretch to call all tweets advertisements because advertising usually has a specific purpose, whereas a huge percentage of tweets serve no purpose whatsoever. Savvy Twitterers tweet with strategy and purpose, looking for a specific outcome.
Twitter purpose usually revolves initially around gaining more followers, much like a magazine attracts subscribers. Useful tweets help with that, much like great writing helps a magazine gain regular readers. After a user has amassed a large following, tweets become more focused on advertising a product, blog, site or other business.
Twitter’s problem as an advertising medium is that it usually provides a relatively small (less than 250,000), unfocused audience. You get what you pay for, which brings us to Twitter’s advertising advantage: it’s free. And that’s a large part of what makes it so popular.
People have been looking for the holy grail of cheap or free advertising for years. Sadly, it doesn’t exist. Even with all of today’s great social media tools, there is still no free shortcut to massive wealth. Twitter, although free in theory, is not a medium that typically generates direct sales. And the amount of time you spend on it compared to that of traditional advertising is enormous. Inevitably, that means the return has to be smaller than any other media with a larger, more focused audience, of which there are many.
You really have to be careful to limit your time on Twitter because you can waste a huge amount of time. It adds up fast. I recommend my clients spend a maximum of 20-30 minutes per day total on Twitter unless you are a social media consultant. If you spend 30 minutes on it, consider that your news-reading time for the day.
If you go into your Twitter time with realistic expectations, it can be a great advertising medium. Of course, Twitter is much more than an advertising medium.