My clients say this to me this all the time, “Tell me why I need to be on social media.” You don’t.
I liken Twitter to a cocktail party. It’s full of people and everyone is talking away. You need to decide if you even want to be at the party. Sometimes you’re simply too busy or the party isn’t the right venue for you. Of course, there are boring/obnoxious people at every event, you steer clear of them. Everyone has different uses for it.
I use Twitter as a personalized newspaper/periodical. I keep my follower list very small (I’m quality not quantity) and read my stream from my phone throughout the day. (FYI, I use Twitter for iPhone and Hootsuite I am mostly in listener mode.) I email myself links of interest to read when I have the time. Then I post those links to appropriate channels or email them to people I think would be interested. I use it as an educational and inspirational tool. Sometimes I think of it as a think tank with the world’s smartest and brightest minds a tweet away. Additionally, I like to use Twitter to champion the causes of my local community.
I’m building relationships with people by conversing with them. I’m also building my reputation as a community cheerleader amongst those I support by RT’ing. I aim to add value to my client/colleague base by providing them with the information that I’ve found.
It’s NOT a selling tool. It’s just another communication tool like a phone/fax/email/website/blog/text/IM. The ROI for the majority of businesses is unclear. But business seems to really be about relationships and providing value. You wouldn’t bust into a cocktail party, hand out your business cards, say “Buy from me!” then leave, would you? Twitter is that cocktail party. Stay, have a drink, have some good convo, learn some things, and take it with you into your everyday life.
*UPDATE I recently heard another social media consultant say, “The ROI of social media is that you’ll still be in business in 5 years.” So well said!