Why I’m Quitting Twitter (And You Should Too)

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Yes, I’m quitting Twitter. After 2.5 years, 2,154 followers, and 2,917 tweets, I have officially called it quits on Twitter. And I believe other professional services firms – – accountants, auditors, lawyers, engineers, etc. – – should do the same. Stop wasting your time on Twitter and get back to generating new business and goodwill with your existing clients.

What do I know about Twitter or web marketing?
Why should anyone listen to me? I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty good handle on using the web to generate new business and create professional relationships, at least in the professional services space. Accountants, auditors, and lawyers should listen to me because I know how to get results.

Here’s the proof: I’ve been a solo practitioner in a niche practice (fraud investigation and forensic accounting) for over 11 years. Today, my website is ranked third in traffic for forensic accounting firms. The two ahead of me (and several of the firms behind me) have hundreds of employees around the world. 

I have a highly trafficked blog and my statistics for visitors (both repeat and new) are quite impressive (even excluding the fact that I’m a solo). I’ve figured out how to get internet traffic despite the relative small size of my firm (and therefore limited reach among professionals), and I have turned that into business.

How does Twitter fit in?
When I first got involved with Twitter, it was really an experiment of sorts. It was mid-2008 and professionals were very new to Twitter. I had good success blogging, and hoped this was a way to extend that success. I thought if I got in early, I could build a good following and reap some rewards.

Twitter made sense in the beginning. I get about 30% of my business from Google and at least 30% from writing articles in professional publications. My blogging has helped me gain good rankings for certain keywords and phrases, and that is how Google gets me business. By writing articles for the right trade publications, I’ve gotten in front of my target market and demonstrated my expertise. Since I was so successful with these two things, Twitter seemed to be a natural extension of that.

I thought that additional publicity via Twitter would drive more traffic to my website, resulting in more business. I thought Twitter would help me get quoted more often in online and print publications, and it would put me in front of potential clients. I was wrong on all accounts.

Zero results with Twitter
Twitter sends almost no additional traffic to my site. No client or potential client has ever mentioned seeing me on Twitter. No reporter has ever mentioned Twitter to me. A few colleagues (read: competitors) have found me via Twitter, but what good is that, really? None of this has turned into new clients or additional business. None of the statistics that can be measured and tracked have been impacted in any way by Twitter.

Why doesn’t Twitter work for professional service firms?
My goal with Twitter was to use it smartly. I never planned on Tweeting twenty to fifty times a day. I wanted to use it strategically, but not overwhelm my friends and colleagues with too much noise. And noise is exactly what Twitter is today.

Professional services firms are using Twitter to get their message out. The problem is that no one is listening. Everyone is too busy pushing out their message via Twitter, and they’re spending very little time listening to what others have to say.

Twitter can be a platform for engaging in conversation with other professionals. It can also be a way to get news or be pointed to interesting articles. You can learn a lot from Twitter. But do you need this outlet to learn or have conversations? No. If you want to learn, bookmark sites or add blogs to your RSS reader. If you want to have conversations, reach out to other professionals to have private, meaningful conversations. Don’t waste your time with a noisemaker like Twitter.

Not enough results to make Twitter worthwhile
Have some professionals like myself used Twitter successfully? Maybe. It depends on how you define success.

I know some accountants and lawyers have reaped some benefits from Twitter. I would argue, however, that those benefits were not worth the high cost of Twitter. Namely, the people I know who are “successful” with Twitter probably spend 1 to 3 hours per day using it. The limited volume of benefits (in the form of new business, goodwill with existing clients, speaking engagements, being quoted in industry publications, being invited to do a guest blog or column) were not worth this much of a time investment.

It’s true that the time investment for Twitter can be very low. I probably spent only two to ten minutes per day using Twitter. I tried not to overwhelm my followers, but have provided some links to good content and made relevant comments on content from others.  But it wasn’t worth it because there was zero return. For any activity to be worthwhile (even one that only takes a little bit of time and effort) there has to be some sort of return on it. And for Twitter, there was none.

Look at Twitter over the long term. Even at two minutes per day, we’re talking about 12 hours per year. (And at ten minutes per day, it’s over 60 hours per year!) I can do a lot of things with that much time.

I’m not saying Twitter isn’t useful for other people, industries, or companies. Consumer products companies can use it to create brand loyalty. Certain professions might find it useful to generate new business. People might find jobs using Twitter. But if you’re an accountant, auditor, investigator, or lawyer, it is nearly useless.

The future of Twitter for professionals
Two or three years from now, the usefulness of Twitter might change for professional services people. A few years ago I wrote about how much I hated LinkedIn, and how I thought it was the equivalent of a chain letter or a scam. It has improved, and I’ve actually found it to be a useful tool for making professional connections. (Although I hate how headhunters and certain other professionals still abuse Linked In.)

My long-term experiment with Twitter has been a bust, and it’s time to stop the bleeding. No more time wasted posting things to Twitter.

I would rather spend that time developing new content for my blog. I think devoting my time to my own site, where I own the platform and control the content and the distribution, makes much more sense.

Now it’s time for you, dear accountant or lawyer, to stop wasting your time and money on Twitter. Find a better outlet for your thoughts, and by all means, don’t pay a “social media consultant” or marketer to develop or maintain a Twitter presence. Your time and money are best spent elsewhere, on tried and true methods of marketing your firm.

51 thoughts on “Why I’m Quitting Twitter (And You Should Too)

  1. Very thoughtful post Tracy. I struggle with Twitter but am not quite ready to pull the plug yet. I do agree with you completely when you say “noise is exactly what Twitter is today” – very hard to filter.

  2. Tracy Coenen

    Thanks for commenting Joel! It’s good to hear from you. Last night I sat down and looked at my web stats since 2008, summing the number visitors to my website that came from Twitter. It was so low as to not justify my continued involvement. I didn’t even have to think twice.

    Again, for the sake of carrying on conversations, Twitter might still have some use for me. But as it relates to business development, the answer is a resounding NO.

  3. I couldn’t agree with your post anymore Tracy. I too have struggled with justifying the amount of time it takes to develop relationships on Twitter. I find that creating content (e.g. blog articles, professional publications) is much more valuable use of my time. Twitter has in fact become just “noise” which as a business owner is something is hard to justify. Like Joel, I am not ready to totally give up just yet. I have “met” some interesting people that I would not have otherwise been in contact with, which is really the only real benefit that I have gotten out of it so far. Maybe I just haven’t figured out the “rules” of Twitter, but it’s fast becoming a lower priority for me.

  4. Tracy-I have to take the opposite view. Twitter was the first useful social media tool that I experimented with but more importantly the first social media with which I was able to get me name out in the FCPA space. I concentrated my tweeting on the FCPA space and others in the field noticed and appreciated that I re-tweeted their tweets. This garnered me name recognition in the FCPA space.

    While I cannot point to my tweeting as the sole reason for providing business leads to myself, I can say that people may initially discover me, my FCPA practice, my blog and my website through twitter. Or they may ask for additional information through a tweet. I have developed professional relationships with others who consistently tweet content relevant material to the FCPA space.

    Lastly I would urge you to reconsider for my own personal reasons. They are your tweet is very content relevant to your professional space. You have provided myself and I would speculate many other professionals good content, which has given me insight and a greater understanding of fraud and fraud investigations. Your tweeting has driven traffic to your blog and your website.

    Twitter may not be the only tool or even the best tool for marketing but it is A tool, which I firmly believe everyone can and should use in their overall marketing efforts. And last but not least, the price for its use is certainly right. Tom Fox

  5. Tracy, thanks for stating your case so well; it was well thought out and well presented.

    It’s funny, the last time I defended Twitter as a networking tool in the comments section some anonymous idiot accused me of being an employee of Twitter.

    Regardless, for me and what I do in the trade media of my industry Twitter has both increased the stature of my brand and, most importantly, connected me with more editors and publishers in the channel, which has netted me more actual paid work than any other online networking tool.

    Like you said, it’s going to be different for different businesses and industries, and I don’t think that everyone needs to be on Twitter.

  6. Tracy Coenen

    Hi Tom – Thank you for weighing in! As I was making my decision and writing my article, I was thinking of you often! I can honestly say that I know Twitter has benefited you. However, more importantly, you are the one and only person that I can say that for.

    I know for sure that Twitter has helped you develop your practice. Although I do think your excellent blogging is much more to blame.

    I tried to figure out why it is that you have had success with Twitter, while every other accountant, auditor, and lawyer that I know has been a miserable failure with it. I think it has to do partly with the fact that you were the first person to do anything substantive on Twitter with FCPA material. Moreso, it has to do with the fact that you really know your stuff and therefore have become visible in the FCPA field and recognizable as THE expert on compliance. Your roadshow with Ethisphere has helped too.

    I think you were smart enough and fortunate enough to create a perfect storm that helped make Twitter a success for you.

    Yet I can’t replicate that success, and so it is time to move on. However, I am going to used the LinkedIn update feature to post some of the things I otherwise would have put on Twitter. You don’t have to miss out on my nonsense all together! 🙂

  7. Thanks Tracy.

    I don’t think that failure is limited to your industry, either. I follow a broad number of brands in several industries outside my own, and I’d say that most companies really don’t use it well, especially most of the big electronics companies.

    Twitter isn’t a medium where you blare your message from a megaphone, it’s where there’s back and forth communication with both your peers and your customers. You certainly grasp that but many companies just don’t.

    That said, I think that converting Twitter into leads into sales isn’t necessarily going to be effective for every business. Is a small local business going to get more sales from the global reach of Twitter? Maybe not. Will a media outlet get more traffic from Twitter? Definetely.

  8. Megan Thompson

    While I agree with you that the Twitter of right now is not necessarily the best marketing tool, I ask you this question: How many people do you know who use Twitter as a social media purely for their own enjoyment rather than as a marketing tool? I find that the older crowd does not tend to use the service while the younger generation who are not necessarily even in the profession yet are using it extensively. Personally, I believe that while currently Twitter is not a hugely successful marketing tool it, or an adaptation of it, has the potential to become so in the future.

  9. Tracy Coenen

    There is definitely an enjoyment factor for some, and I encourage them to continue on! And I also agree that someday, my feelings about Twitter and its usefulness for me may change.

  10. I’ve been continuing to think about this post, and just read several of the other comments on it. One thing I’m finding useful with Twitter is hash tags. I was at a Detroit Tigers game two weeks ago with a friend. While there, he introduced me to an anchorman for the local ABC affiliate. The anchorman started a Detroit based hash tag (#backchannel) that he’d tweet to during broadcasts. I’ve been following it and while there is some noise, it has interesting conversations on Detroit. I’ve also used it to get recommendations or answers to some questions, faster than I think I’d get from Facebook or LinkedIn. So I see some value in it.

    And I continue to wonder if there will be any business development in it for me.

  11. You make a good case based on your situation Tracy. However, just because you have not figured out how to make Twitter work for you in your business development efforts, I’m at a loss as to why you tell others they ought to quit Twitter too.

    Many lawyers and other professionals have found Twitter to be a powerful networking tool and one that drives not only great traffic to their blog, but a tool that helps establish a reputation for subject matter expertise and builds relationships that result in business. Are you suggesting that those lawyers quit Twitter?

    Arguing that Twitter does not work for you so every lawyer ought to quit using it makes as much sense as telling lawyers you haven’t found going to networking events to work for business development so all lawyers out to stop networking.

  12. Tracy Coenen

    It’s not true that “many lawyers” are having success getting web traffic and new business via Twitter. Of the hundreds of lawyers that I personally know, only one has had any measurable success with Twitter.

    Of course, if Twitter is working for someone, they should keep using it. But I’d argue that’s simply not the case for nearly all accountants and lawyers currently on Twitter.

  13. Tracy, I can totally appreciate your take based on YOUR experiences. First of all, you were super early to the game in blogging. And you got a lot of traction. Nothing in SM is more beneficial for a professional (knowledge worker) than blogging well. Your decision absolutely sounds like a good one for you.

    But I’m sad you (in the title and in the post) tell other professionals to abandon the communication channel. First, not all have blogs. Not all with blogs have good blogs. Not all use it the same way or for the same reason. Some use it for education (to follow events, breaking news) or to collect and aggregate their reading, (news and professional/trade). Some use it for customer service. Some use it for relationships. Some use it for monitoring their company or key topics. Some use it poorly and some use it well.

    It’s simply a communication channel. Like your phone. Or email. In other words, it doesn’t stand alone. It works in sync with other efforts. Some better than others. You cannot actually calculate an ROI for a communication channel. Tell me the ROI of your phone. Or your email. You can count direct leads from Twitter, but a low number doesn’t mean it hasn’t helped you.

    Personally, I have a love/hate thing with Twitter. I spend no more than 2-5 minutes a day using it, but I use it effectively–FOR ME. I have lists to filter content (I seldom read the full stream…ick) and I pull key lists into FlipBoard to read more easily.

    Context is critical for assessing the value of Twitter use. Goals matter.

    And FWIW, I TOTALLY agree with your statement to never pay someone to “do” twitter for you. Delegating or outsourcing defeats EVERY legit purpose. I am also opposed to brands tweeting as a logo/brand. Few do it well. Mostly it’s a waste.

  14. Tracy Coenen

    Of COURSE I can calculate an ROI for my phone or email. That’s my whole point here. People are claiming that Twitter has so many benefits, yet unlike other methods of communication or marketing, no one can actually calculate their benefits… because they are almost NONEXISTENT!!!

    What better indicator of how useless Twitter is than the fact that you have LISTS TO FILTER CONTENT. You are following people YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR FROM. You use a list so that you only have to pay attention to a small fraction of the tweets in your stream. You obviously agree that most of what’s on Twitter is simply noise and you don’t want to be bothered with it.

    I find it interesting that the only people on this thread and via private emails (other than Tom Fox… and he is a huge exception to the rule) who are really saying that Twitter is critical to marketing efforts, are people who own marketing companies and who promote Twitter to their clients. (i.e. The use of Twitter affects your revenue stream.) I’m not saying you’re doing anything wrong, deliberately or not, but I am saying that you have a vested interest in people using Twitter, regardless of their results from it. A few others have said they like Twitter, but none can cite any actual business development benefit from it.

    It’s easy to suggest that I’m a failure with Twitter, that I’m the exception and so many others are having success, and therefore it’s wrong for me to suggest people quit Twitter. You would be wrong on all accounts. Of the hundreds of legal and accounting contacts I have who are using Twitter, only ONE has had measurable success with it.

    And if you read his article here (http://tfoxlaw.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/jonathan-marks-tweets-and-why-you-should-be-on-twitter/), his success is not really measurable at all, but it is still clear that he has had success via Twitter.

    Almost all the other lawyers and accountants I know on Twitter are wasting tons of time , with the unrealistic hope that it will pay off. 2.5 years into this, I think the evidence is clear. Twitter is a waste of time and we are doing professionals no service by telling them “stick with it!”

    Again, I am speaking to accounting and legal types in this post. There are other professions/industries in which I admit there is a real benefit to Twitter. In law and accounting, there is not a tangible benefit to Tweeting for 99%+ of the professionals. (Let’s ignore the marketers who sell to lawyers and accountants… Tweeting is beneficial to the marketers in that regard, but doesn’t change the fact that for the legal and accounting professionals, the benefits are slim to none.)

    I’m fine with people watching Twitter to get news or other information that helps them professionally. I’m simply against them spending hours and hours tweeting things that no one is paying any attention to.

    Sure, I admit people have gotten some positive benefits from Twitter. The one thing I hear is that people have met some cool people. Good for them. This still does not justify a time-waster like Twitter, and the same relationships could be formed using a different marketing tactic which ACTUALLY WORKS to expand one’s reach and one’s business.

  15. Tracy Coenen

    Here is a great comment left on a LinkedIn thread about this article:

    Larry Bodine • Here are some facts that will make you feel comfortable with your decision. 94% of adult Americans do not use Twitter — especially young people, according to Pew Internet Research.

    Among the 6% of Americans who do use Twitter, 50% of the tweets generated by 20,000 Twitter users — only 0.05% of user base, according to research by Cornell and Yahoo. See http://research.yahoo.com/pub/3386. These tweeters are in 4 categories: celebrities, media, organizations (like Amnesty International and the World Wildlife Federation), and bloggers. Celebrities follow celebrities, the media follows itself, bloggers follow each other, etc.

    In other words, it’s an echo chamber. A very small echo chamber.

    Everyone has an anecdote about how a lawyer got a client on Twitter. But there is no statistical research that Twitter as a whole is a source of clients for lawyers. (I myself Tweet regularly, but I’m not practicing law – big difference).

    You will get flamed for your decision and called foolish, because there is a hard core of Twitter advocates. So put on your fireproof suit.

  16. Tracy Coenen

    P.S. I like Michelle Golden. A LOT. So don’t take my disagreement with her as a slam on her. It’s just a difference of opinion coming from a different place (a lawyer or accounting type versus a marketing type) and a different experience.

  17. Tracy Coenen

    I actually hope I get to eat crow on this one in a year or two. I would love for Twitter to develop in a way that more accountants and attorneys see tangible results from it. Maybe we could collectively work on figuring out how to better use Twitter? What has worked for the limited few who have had good success? Why is it that the vast majority have not seen adequate benefits. How can we change the numbers???

  18. Tracy, I have been struggling with the amount of time I spend marketing my business and discovering that as a small company my time is so valuable. I have not started using Twitter, but I was with you in early 2009 when you started using it. I didn’t understand the benefits then and still don’t. I appreciate you catching me early before I start a Twitter account. It will no less keep noise out of my life that I don’t have time for anyway.

  19. Ben Moser

    Tracy, First I want to commend you for taking a stand and making a decision regarding your personal/business social media choices.  Whether it be Twitter, Linkenin, Facebook or another site, it shows some courage to disengage publicly instead of just ignore.  Second, while I enjoy Twitter and do find it useful, it is important in this age of “noise” innundation from all sides that professionals feel free to make this type of decision with regard to their personal representations of themselves in cyberspace.  There is no “essential” site or social/business media forum, and there never should be.  To paraphrase a quote I heard from a prominent DC political analyst a few years ago:  Everything begins as a movement, becomes a business and degenerates into a racket.  

    When you begin to feel racketeered, it’s time to pull the plug – so bravo and best wishes.

  20. You’ve spoken to lawyers Tracy who, like you, have not been able to figure out how to use Twitter in a way that has allowed them to build their reputation as an expert in their field and build relationships that have resulted in business. That’s great. But let’s not turn this post into more than it is. A little sensationalism about some form of social media that doesn’t work for someone that other lawyers jump on board because they too haven’t figured it out. Seems like your making something out of nothing.

  21. Tracy Coenen

    Yes, Kevin, I’ve tried to find lawyers who have had Twitter impact their business positively. I’ve found attorneys who say they met nice people via Twitter or they like playing on Twitter. I’ve only found one attorney out of hundreds who can definitively say that Twitter has had an impact on their earnings. One. ONE. That speaks loudly.

    I’m not sure why you consider this sensationalism. I just consider it real advice for attorneys and accountants who might waste their time on Twitter because a marketer told them YOU HAVE TO BE ON IT! I’m telling them the truth, with nothing to gain from it. They shouldn’t bother unless they have seen an actual monetary return on their time investment.

  22. Your first mistake was to approach twitter from a “business development perspective.” It’s a fun and informative way to chit chat and trade information. It’s all about spontaneity and serendipity. The idea of planning tweets and “scheduling” twitter time would take the fun out of it. And fun is what Twitter is all about.

    I’m a heavy Twitter user, but I use it because it’s fun. If I ever sat down and calculated the “ROI” on Twitter, would I reconsider? Well I’m not even sure where I would start, but that’s not the point (for me anyway). Let’s just say that I could easily spend my time more productively — i.e., taking care of the plenty of work that’s on my plate.

  23. Charles van der Lande

    As a lawyer who is new to twitter found your post interesting.

    I’m a specialist lawyer who specialises in high value work: we don’t anticipate ever getting any work purely through our website. 100% of our work comes through existing clients or personal recommendation.

    So the chances of a tweet leading directly to a new client for us are, IMHO, zero. What twitter is good for is getting information – have found it a great way to read interesting things (like your post) and be much better informed. This, in itself, is a really good thing and will bring benefits.

    It has also been interesting to find our what people read/look at and what they don’t – so this has improved how I communicate.

    But I do basically agree with Venkat that it’s something to enjoy and for fun.

    I do think you were right with your initial conclusion on linkedin though – can’t see the point.

  24. Tracy Coenen

    Hi Charles – When I started my firm 11 years ago, I never imagined I would get work from my website. Today, I get a lot from it. Although the reason I do is because I have so much content, am regularly blogging, and therefore have good SEO (natural SEO, not this nonsense that “SEO experts” sell), and good search engine rankings for relevant words and phrases.

  25. This article is a unique perspective at a time when all you hear is every business NEEDS to be engaged in social media.

    I think the importance of social depends on the type of business and its target customers.

    It very well might not be a good Return On the Time for this author, who is a forensic accountant, but could be critical to businesses targeting other types of customers.

    For example, I engage in social media because I enjoy it, but many of my clients are young entrepreneurs who also expect me to be on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

    In contrast, if I were practicing elder law, it might not be even a low level priority for how I use my time engaging clients.

    Thank you,
    Doug
    http://www.bendlawoffice.co

  26. Mr. van der Lande makes a good point. Twitter is effectively my morning newspaper. The tweets are the headlines. The focus is almost entirely on the industries and business channels I pay attention to, but if something major happens, like a nuclear accident, my Twitter feed will let me know.

  27. Social network, as in: social. Meeting people, talking about nothing and sharing information. Twitter isn’t – and never was – a business network for getting clients.

    That’s your fundamental misunderstanding about the role of Twitter and it’s no surprised that in that regard, you’ve failed.

    Or, as one might say on Twitter: #yerdoinitwrong

  28. Tracy Coenen

    I don’t misunderstand Twitter one bit. Your comment, Gideon, suggests that you think Twitter is only about meeting nice people and spending time socially. Like I have said here and on other sites, anyone who wants to do that SHOULD! And those of us in the legal and accounting fields who desire to have some (ANY!) positive business-related result (other than meeting nice people) ought to quit.

  29. Tracy Coenen

    I would also challenge all those marketers who are telling lawyers and accountants that they HAVE to be on Twitter, that there will be no business benefit to them. Tell them it’s only social, as Gideon says. That’s really what I’m trying to do here, isn’t it? OF COURSE IT IS.

  30. Spot on, the key word is social. But social does work in a business context, it just works differently from direct advertising. It is much more subtle. It keeps names fresh, it is terribly difficult to monitor returns in a conventional sense (and for some that is reason alone to abandon it), but not everything worthwhile is necessarily capable of direct measure. There is obviously a time trade-off, and I think the way around this is to harness SN tools to ensure that content is posted once and then automatically distributed across a number of all of a professional’s publishing platforms. In that way a post to a blog becomes a post to twitter and linkedin and facebook etc.

  31. You still don’t get it. If you started using Twitter expecting to get clients and build business, you started out from a false premise. Twitter isn’t built for that and it hasn’t developed for that. So *anyone* who expects Twitter to bring them business is going to end up saying things like “it’s a waste of time”.

    So, it’s not that *I* think Twitter’s for social purposes only (fine, I’ll grant you mainly), but that almost everyone who uses Twitter assumes that’s what it’s for, which is why marketers and spammers and people like yourself can’t seem to get used to it and feel like it’s a waste of time.

    Twitter is a community, it’s not your personal classifieds.

  32. I’m an estate planning attorney and I’ve gotten business “through” Twitter.

    By “through” Twitter, I mean that people I’ve established relationships on Twitter have referred me clients.

    Now I have a Tweetdeck automatic search column for “Estate Planning” and 95% of the results are estate planning attorneys spamming twitter with useless information, silly links, and just crap. Many of them are auto-tweets by “social media experts” who never engage with other people.

    So for attorneys who are told they have to set up an account so someone can write “5 reasons why you should get your estate planning done!!!! (link)” over and over again, then you are 100% right.

    However, if you are an attorney and you spend time engaging with people and talking to them and learning about them, and showing that you aren’t a moron, then eventually you’ll see some “return.”

  33. Tracy Coenen

    Yes, Gideon, I get it quite well. I get that marketers are telling lawyers and accountants that Twitter is a good tool for business development. That is a lie, and you apparently agree with me. In order for lawyers and accountants to justify a time commitment to Twitter, I think they need to be able to measure some sort of tangible business benefit. As I’ve said multiple times here and elsewhere, for those who want to be social and spend time chatting with others for fun, Twitter is an excellent place to do that. Let’s not lie to attorneys and accountants, however, and tell them that Twitter is a good business building tool.

  34. Interesting discussion. This article “Everyone Should Hire Social Media Experts” by the CEO of SEOmoz.com (extremely respected company) gives some insight into this issue. I thought I would share it here: http://tinyurl.com/3rj46kv. I would say the key issues in to Twitter or not is are you doing it correctly and watch your Google Analytics to see what it is doing for you traffic wise. Finally, consider that the search engines are now using your social networking “profile” as part of how they decide your website rankings thus having a Twitter presence is part of that aspect.

  35. The problem with Twitter – and all other social media for that regard – is that people don’t see benefits because they don’t go in with goals. It may be that you are able to meet your professional goals through other tools, and I suspect that is true of most. But I find Twitter very useful for laser-like niceh uses like conferences as I wrote here – http://www.legalmarketingblawg.com/2011/05/for-conferences-nothing-beats.html

    BTW, this is not new -I’ve written a book on Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier along with Nicole Black. We are both lawyers and wrote the book from a lawyer’s perspective – with great focus on the practical and ethical. How odd then that none of the marketers have ever mentioned our book to readers or reviewed our book.

  36. Tracy,
    Very thought provoking post, I give you credit for the courage to speak your mind and raise some hackles in the process (probably good skills for a forensic accountant as well:)

    I only partially agree with your premise, and perhaps the underlying premise, as some have suggested, is what could change, in order to get more cost-benefit out of twitter.

    Granted, the benefit may be largely intangible, but that’s why I don’t think folks should buy into what you describe generically as a ‘marketer’s’ push that twitter will drive ‘business’ or purchases of product, per se.

    I can’t say that anyone actually joined the organization I work for, Financial Executive International, which by definition is a membership organization, or that anyone actually attended a conference, paying non-dues revenue, also a hard-dollar benefit to my organization solely by virtue of a post on twitter.

    But the intangible benefits of being on twitter are, like another commenter said, in raising the brand profile generically of the organization, getting people more familiar with the brand. Will twitter alone make them ‘buy’ the product? Not necessarily, any more than seeing a commercial on TV. But it builds some brand familiarity that, perhaps if they are invited in some other way to join an organization, attend an event, or purchase that organization’s services, they may be more likely to buy it due to their familiarity through twitter, blogs, facebook, or other sources – although word of mouth from someone they know is probably still the number 1 referral vehicle.

    Intangible benefits of tweeting include getting to know a broader group of colleagues who do what you do (lawyering, accounting, auditing, professional association staffing, conference planning and speaking, writing for blogs, newspapers or magazines, etc.), I know I have benefitted that way by meeting people via twitter I would not have otherwise met, although they are in my professional sphere, but outside my local area.

    Further on the intangible benefit side, I have gotten leads on hot news stories from other accountants and lawyers thru twitter, which was useful to me in my role as author of an accounting blog. I have also been invited to attend conferences as a press person through contacts I made initially on twitter.

    On the cost side of the equation, the way to limit cost is to limit time. I used to live a substantial portion of my life on twitter in 2009 through the first quarter or so of 2010, when I had to cut back due to massive upheaval in my personal life.

    Did I ‘enjoy’ twitter? Yes. Was it ‘fun’? Yes. But I could no longer invest the hours upon hours (cumulatively, and sometimes in one sitting)to follow the interesting – and in many cases important and influential (in the profession, by that I mean, other writers in the profession) people I followed, RT, engage in twitter discussions, promote tweetups, etc.

    I think those who spend oodles and oodles of time on twitter really only see a decent benefit (read: ROI) if they have become or are striving to be a ‘twitterati’ – something like the old ‘literati’ – or those on the social scene or media circuit who are highly sought after because they are opinionated, well spoken, media-savvy, media-friendly, etc., and if their twitter personality/presence leads to more media engagements, or more blog traffic (even if not the purchase of services with hard dollars, per se), for people in the business of publishing and speaking (vs., say, consulting, or if they do not expect significant ROI of their social media involvement to the consulting side of the business) it would seem to make sense. But, if one of those speaking engagements, or magazine articles, or blog posts brings a consultingn engagement, then there is an ROI, but a more indirect one, probably impossible to measure.

    Your post, and the comments it has generated, may be seen as an interesting forerunner to #twittermakesyoustupid, in which a NY times sr. editor challeged people #twittermakesmakesyoustupid: discuss.

    I have to say I learned of the above NY article and the related exchange via twitter – from my friend Francine McKenna – here’s the tweet I posted to her, in fact, earlier this week, on this subject:

    @retheauditors Tks 4 tweeting abt @nytkeller, had not seen his Twitter article http://nyti.ms/jjpTr9; I concur w/some of his pts

    I also want to give props to Joel Ungar, whose post in his Ungar Cover blog on @accountingWEB, Facebook vs. LinkedIn vs. Twitter vs. Blogging, led me to your blog post on this subject.

    So, to wrap up my point, if the ‘benefit’ of the twitter cost-benefit equation is redefined as brand awareness, leads on writing thought pieces for other publications or speaking engagements, and leads on breaking news for one’s blog, and to bring attention to one’s blog or website, I think that may be better than defining the benefit as “selling stuff” or bringing in a measureable, hard dollar ROI in terms of paying clients, paying members, paying conference attendeees, paying customers.

    The cost side, or time commitment, needs to be carefully managed to not interfere with time for substantive work on blogs, consulting, lawyering, accounting-ing, auditing, and family life.

    Thanks for bringing attention to this topic and giving folks the opportunity to engage in discussion on your blog.

  37. I know that for lawyers, and it would seem likely for other professionals as well, Twitter can be a great tool to connect with other professionals, not necessarily prospective clients or current clients.

    For example, Twitter has been very effective for my law firm to help easily and quickly promote quality content we create. This allows us to easily and quickly gain backlinks and rank well in search engines for that content as well as our site generally. Of course you can argue that we can just as easily promote that content through email and other means; however, it has been our experience that Twitter is a better method of doing so

  38. Richard

    Interesting article but, as an in-house lawyer (& so purchaser of legal services), I cannot agree with you. David Schulman has it spot on. Twitter enables me to enter into a dialogue with a number of people I would not have otherwise met. They have, by turn, either been useful private practice contacts that I have engaged or provided links to other lawyers I am building relationships with.

    As such, it has been a very effective Business Development tool for them! Twitter has its place, it is just working out what its place is for you that matters. It is not for everyone, that is very true, but I cannot agree that leaving twitter must be the right amswer. Just because you do not find a use for it (and I don’t pass judgment on why that might be), does not provide proof to your theorem.
    my $0.02

  39. Being new to twitter, this got my attention. Personally, I don’t get twitter, but a consultant told us we needed to be there if for no other reason than positive Google results.

    Noise is exactly how I define it, also.

    Of the 85 followers that have come in in the first 3 weeks, we have blocked 54 of them for being spam, totally unrelated or phony. Obviously there is a big attempt for “social engineering” going on.

    The unrealated “followers” all have the same MO. A female name followed by 2 numbers, a cheesy photo with clevage, no tweets, no profile, following 1200-2500 with 300 to 2000 following them.

    So, we’re going to continue to spend our 30 minutes a week until we reach a 300 hundred or so real targeted, related people or companies, then see what happens.

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