Today's You're The Boss blog via the NY Times has a great contribution from MP Mueller, founder and president of Door Number 3, a boutique ad agency that nicely encapsulates the opportunities, challenges, the good and bad of Twitter for consumer facing businesses and some professional services firms.
And, I think she hits the nail on the head when she says that "there are limits to what you can do on Twitter. For professional services firms like Door Number 3, Twitter is not a tool to drive quick business sales."
She adds, "Even for professional services firms, social media, done well, can be good for awareness. It may not drive quick sales, but if you post articles and research, if you create a persona for your brand that your target audience appreciates and learns from, you will earn credibility — and this can lead to new clients. Eventually."
We've been in this position before, where a CEO of a professional services firm who heard (INSERT NEWEST WIDGET/APP NAME HERE) is going to revolutionize their business and industry and they have to be on it or their competitor is on it, so they need to be on it too, without really looking at how it's going to help them or their business. It's a me too strategy and those never work.
In cases like this, we think it's so important to thoroughly evaluate your target audiences and your overall business and marketing objectives first and then figure out a strategy that's going to help you reach those objectives followed by a thorough examination of which tools (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, iPhone app, LinkedIn, email, web, media, etc.) and tactics are going to deliver the impact you desire and effectively reach your target audience. Let's remember, as MP states, there are limits to what you can do on Twitter, and if it's not helping your bottom line or reaching your intended target then you should reevaluate your social media strategy and tactics or realize its limitations to drive quick business sales for your business. It's important to remember that, social media takes time and isn't a silver bullet to your business challenges.