Why Duncan Bannatyne Is Both Right... And Wrong On Twitter

By Jason Sullock, New Customer Marketing Manager, Sage

In a recent article for MarketingWeek, Duncan Bannatyne (of Entrepreneur and BBC Dragon's Den fame) said “I sell so much on Twitter. As an owner of a company you have got to do it - the value of it is ridiculous” and he's quite right. Twitter offers huge opportunities for small businesses to expand their sales.

At the same time, he goes on to say that "Two out of 300,000 followers [complaining of spam] is not a bad ratio."

And that's where I take issue with the approach.

Now, it would be fair to say that I'm a bob or two behind Duncan in the money stakes, and I certainly don't have anywhere like his following on Twitter - I currently have just 3,743 followers - but that's exactly my point... Duncan can afford to ignore those who accuse him of spamming them, whereas the vast majority of small businesses who might adopt his advice on Twitter, would find the proportion accusing them of spam huge in comparison to their total amount of followers.

It seems to me that Duncan is using an Old World model of marketing - throw enough mud and some of it will stick, and as long as we keep the percentage of people complaining below, say 0.5%, that will be fine. But small businesses with much smaller followings cannot do this. The percentage of complaints would simply be too high.

So what are the alternatives for small businesses with small Twitter followings?

The first is to vastly increase your number of followers. This would be taking precisely the above approach, and can be achieved by using any number of software programs available on the market. Does this approach have merit? Yes, of course. It will gain immediate sales, but it won't create long term life-time value. You'll likely get a lot of temporary followers, and quite a few detractors. The only way this approach can be made to work is if you are constantly collecting more new followers than unfollowers and detractors.

The second approach is to use a New World model of marketing, and that is to recognise that the customer 'really is king' these days. This means that you absolutely do need to treat each and every follower as an individual. In turn, this means that a small business using Twitter to generate sales needs to allocate precious man-hours to interacting with their Twitter followers, just as they do using their networking or mobile phone contacts, or their CRM system.

So the bigger question - the one that Duncan Bannatyne didn't acknowledge because he can afford to ignore it - is 'can a small business owner devote the time needed to truly interact with his or her followers on Twitter?'

I'm not sure.

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Website: www.sagehello.co.uk

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