Twitter, please don’t die!

— by Janice Mandel, Principal, Signal Leadership Communication Inc.

I hope all the speculation about Twitter dying is greatly exaggerated. Things do look bleak, what with slow user growth, layoffs looming and its seeming inability to grow revenue fast enough to satisfy investors.

Yet, Twitter is the lifeblood of today’s news business, a major factor in the upcoming U.S. election and…wait for it…the best place in the virtual world for building business relationships. Better than LinkedIn. It’s like eHarmony for executives: bringing together like-minded people for mutual benefit.

How else can a busy executive talk to customers, connect with media, get the opinion of industry experts, strengthen business alliances and engage with peers, all without leaving the office, making a phone call or sending an email?

Here’s an example of what that looks like in real life: One of the downsides of being a senior executive is your staff can be less forthcoming if a certain strategy or program isn’t working as planned. By the time you find out, it may be too late to turn things around. Having an active dialogue on Twitter with people in whichever group the program is focused on (i.e., customers, employees, suppliers etc.) can prevent that from happening. It provides an opportunity to touch base with them or respond if they reach out with an issue. Not only can you learn something by doing this, you may even gain their loyalty because they will appreciate your interest.

Or let’s say your company supports a charity, like the SickKids Foundation in Toronto. And they’ve just come out with an amazing new advertising campaign. Why not tweet a compliment to their CEO @TedGarrard. You not only highlight the great work they’ve done, you also let people know about your connection to them. This makes your employees proud and sends out good karma to the business world — other companies may follow your example.

You can also build relationships with reporters, who may eventually interview you when they do a story on your industry or a related topic. There are loads of journalists on Twitter. You can easily build rapport by finding them, following them and paying attention to what they write about and comment on. Then when you feel comfortable hit the ‘like’ button if they publish or say something you appreciate or weigh in with a comment of your own on something they’ve posted. They will see this, appreciate it and may even follow you back.

Basically, when you take the initiative to follow someone on Twitter, you’re opening the door for a relationship. The next step is to start a conversation with them, or respond if they reach out to you. You can do this publicly or via direct message. Either way once the ice is broken, you can grow the relationship into something mutually beneficial. It’s too bad that more Canadian CEOs don’t yet see the value in this. Only 1 in 14 Canadian CEOs are even on Twitter, according to the Signal Social CEO Index, our firm’s first-of-its-kind study of how Canadian CEOs use social media.

Twitter is unique in its ability to help corporate leaders find and engage with people they would not otherwise meet. Facebook is ideal for branding and socializing, Instagram and Snapchat are fun and visual and LinkedIn is useful for recruiting plus longer form content.

If Twitter were to disappear, I don’t see any of these platforms filling the void.

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