Book review: The definitive guide for businesses that Tweet

The Definitive Twitter Guide: Making Tweets Work for Your Business: 30 Twitter Success Stories From Real Businesses and Non-Profits by Shannon Evans (CreateSpace, 2010).  244 pages.

The only way to succeed in social media is to jump in, start swimming, and keep paddling, every day. There’s no alternative. Yet I watch businesses assign their receptionists to “do something with Twitter” and decide after a month that Twitter can’t do anything for them. (Would they have assigned the receptionists to design their TV ad campaigns? I seriously doubt it.)

If a company is avoiding Twitter, Facebook, and a robust, interactive web presence, chances are they are watching with growing frustration as their competitors the social media tools gain and serve customers.

“Twitter? Facebook? It just doesn’t make any sense,” one business owner I know, firmly “old school,” frets. Because she doesn’t understand why it works, much less how it works, she’s not going to do it—even though she can see it’s helping her competition.

The Definitive Twitter Guide by Shannon Evans

No amount of nagging or shaming or prodding is going to work here. But something that lets her see behind the fairy dust to the real-world mechanics of how and why Twitter works just might do the trick. That’s where Shannon Evans’ new book, The Definitive Twitter Guide — Making Tweets Work for Your Business, comes in.

Evans provides a substantive, thoughtful description of how the market has evolved to a place in which 140-word messages, carefully crafted and frequently sent, can establish, communicate, and reinforce a company’s reputation. Evans writes:

“As a marketing tool, social media presents a shift in thinking from the days of direct marketing and one-way communication. Instead, social media creates a different opportunity to interact with potential clients and to build rapport with a savvier customer base.”

With  30 studies of businesses and non-profits that have put Twitter to work to for them, Evans builds a convincing case for the advantages social media have over traditional forms of PR and marketing. These include:

  • Speed of production (you can get your message out in minutes, or even seconds)
  • Timeliness (you can play a role in discussions and reporting when current events involve your area of business)
  • Relatively low cost
  • Ability to target a specific audience (i.e., people interested in what you sell or do)
  • Ability to create and focus a conversation on a topic (using # hashtags)

Evans does an outstanding job of stepping outside the often self-congratulatory world of social media and approaching Twitter from the viewpoint of an established business professional. This is a great help to anyone who needs to assess the value of Twitter and social media work in relation to the value of their other PR and marketing activities.

The book includes illustrated step-by-step instructions to setting up a Twitter account for your business and using it, complete with examples of good and bad accounts and Tweets. (I loved her tip about reigning in your Tweets at 120 characters so you leave plenty of room for other people to retweet them.)

The book’s later chapters have deeply researched and sophisticated information on creating national and local Twitter campaigns, using multiple accounts, and developing audiences. In Chapter 12, Evans evaluates Twitter’s role in the context of business marketing (using as an example the experiences of my friend and client Joe Hage, director of Marketing Communications at Cardiac Science.)

In short, The Definitive Twitter Guide is a must-have for contemporary marketers and business owners—even if all they want to do is figure out what their competition is up to. You’ll find it on Amazon ($19.99) and also in ebook form.

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