Get Active on Twitter Now!

Or Maybe Not...

The news media are full of stories about Twitter, including the most recent stories about how Twitter has gotten millions of dollars of free publicity. So, technically, the news media are full of stories about how they themselves have mentioned Twitter a lot on their stories. And that of course means that everybody should jump on Twitter immediately because it is so hot.

But what metrics out there show that getting active on Twitter is a worthwhile investment for companies? Mashable recently posted an article on how food trucks are successfully using Twitter. This is a good example of situations where the vendors have a reasonable use for the technology and can actually measure whether their investments are paying off. (Does lunch traffic increase or not when sending tweets?) It's also an example where the investments are negligible once the operating formula is in place. (How much time does it take to say, "We've reached such-and-such street intersection. Special today is x."?)

Other businesses, though, might or might not be a little harder pressed to find a viable reason to use Twitter. How much effort is involved in creating a regular stream of Tweets? How much effort does it take to build a large enough base of truly interested followers? How many of them translate into new site traffic, added purchases, or further brand proselytization? How many of those people would have received brand communications anyway from other, already existing media?

Twitter is very hot right now, and as such marketers should pay attention to it. Some marketers might find worthwhile uses for it, as with the food vendors. But as with other (previously) hot technologies, jumping on the bandwagon just to jump on it does not necessarily make it a worthwhile investment. (How are companies' Second Life virtual worlds doing these days?)