How ISVs Can Use Twitter: What Info Lends Itself Best to 140 Characters?

Twitter is a strange beast. Its power to propel the popularity of movie and sports celebrities is well known. It has helped boost political ferment in far-away places like Iran, Syria, and Egypt. Countless personal businesses like chefs and hobbyists sometimes have many thousands of followers. 

But is it a realistic marketing tool for Microsoft Dynamics ISVs? 

The short answer to that question depends. It depends on what you have to sell. It depends on how your overall marketing strategy. It depends on the marketing tools you are generally comfortable with. 

In my previous two articles on how ISVs can use social media, I examined Facebook and LinkedIn. I expressed frustration with finding business uses for Facebook worthy of a significant time and financial investment by ISVs. I argued that LinkedIn has become the social network of choice for serious professionals who want to socialize for work. 

As for Twitter, perhaps the best opening question to ask is this: Does your company want to become a news source and take an authoritative point of view? If not, don't use Twitter. 

Remember, "news" on Twitter is different than news for your company. A customer win or a new product version is not necessarily exciting news to your followers on Twitter. Ask yourself: How many people will actually follow you if every tweet they're seeing has to do with a customer win or a new product release version?

Now, if you have new techniques for getting more out of your general type of software, that could be news. Or if you have insights - or at least a valid opinion - into business trends in your industry, that could be news. Or if you are at an industry trade show and hear some interesting industry "gossip," that is grist for Twitter.

Even if you have legitimate news, getting it out on Twitter is tricky, since it's usually quite challenging to explain new software techniques or business trends in 140 characters or less. Twitter is more about conveying a lot of information in very little space--headlines or very brief summaries, as it were. 

The fact that it's nearly impossible to squeeze substantive ideas into 140 characters or less doesn't mean you can't use it for that purpose. If you have substantive ideas, they are likely contained in a source you will link to - company white papers, articles, special offers. Some may be posted on your web site. Others may be posted on industry news sites. 

And just because your content may have been posted months ago, it can still be worthy of Twitter alerts if there is real industry news related to your content--say, a new Microsoft product or other announcement. 

The good news about Twitter is that it doesn't have to take a huge amount of your time. Writing 140-character headings can often be done quickly. You'll know if your tweets are resonating if they are being re-sent (re-tweeted) around the community, and if you are getting new followers after you issue tweets. 

Moreover, you can automatically place your tweets onto your Facebook page. Kind of a twofer in terms of your time. 

Once you have credibility on Twitter via your commitment to real ideas and news, you can occasionally put out an announcement about a product enhancement or especially noteworthy client long as you keep it truly occasional. 

The good news about the social media is that they are constantly changing, and attracting more users. So while this is the concluding article in this series on social media, we will definitely be doing more on the subject upcoming.

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