Is Twitter a Stethoscope or Megaphone??

Posted by Adam Bean - October 20, 2010 - Social Media - 5 Comments

I just don’t get Twitter!!!

This is the catch cry I constantly hear from business owners almost every time I speak to them about social media interaction and marketing. And you know what?? This lack of understanding of how to use Twitter effectively doesn’t really surprise me.

Let me explain why…

Firstly it comes back to the fact that Twitter is just a tool. You can’t cut wood with a hammer can you? Yet this is exactly what business owner are trying to do by automating and following one of those dreadful get 100 followers a day programs that plague twitter like a disease.

My good friend Jason Markow summed it up beautifully a while back when he came out with this pearl of wisdom…

“Twitter is a Stethoscope not a Megaphone” Jason Markow

My best results with Twitter have always come from one on one meaningful interactions with individuals, not from trying to blast my message out to as many people as possible. A classic example of using Twitter as a stethoscope happened to me, the day that it actually dawned on me exactly what task Twitter was designed to perform.

I had been on Twitter for well over six months (Yes I am a slow learner some times!!) mainly because some online marketing training that I had been participating in (Then the 30 day challenge) made a bold prediction that twitter was going to become vitally important to our future online marketing efforts.

Anyway I was tweeting away one morning (Up to this point I had never received an @ message from anyone!!) whilst browsing a news site I frequent, I discovered an article about a 3.5 meter salt water crocodile that had been captured in a local swimming hole in Darwin. This was of particular interest to me. As myself, my wife and kids frequented this swimming hole whilst we were living in Darwin!!

So I tweeted out the link with a message something like….

We used to swim in this water hole when we lived in Darwin.

Within minutes I had my very first @ message from another lady I was following on the Sunshine Coast, and who also happens to work with web sites and online marketing. So you are a Darwin boy then she replied?? That is the moment that the light bulb went on in my head!! Hang on a minute this tool called Twitter is a two way communication device!

Anyway the conversation continued on about Darwin and the time we had both spent up there. Now that friendship has developed to the point where we bounce idea’s off of each other regarding our businesses, and also help promote each other both online and offline.

All because the twitter tool was used for the task that it was designed to perform, which is…

A real time two way interaction platform.

So what are your experiences with using Twitter?? I want to hear them all both good and bad! Are you still on the dark side that thinks Twitter is a Megaphone?? Lol

About the Author

Adam Bean

“You can either Stand Out or Fit In not both” (Linchpin) Ask me about Twitter & Blogs 4 Small Business Marketing. Husband, Dad, Speaker/Trainer, Wannabe surfer! Beanie puts the Social in Social Media Marketing!!

Although I want to believe Twitter is great for listening in on people (which it really can be) - I think it's still a megaphone mainly because the majority of people use it to do nothing but share links. The idea of being able to retweet is amazing but people do it out of habit now vs. actually clicking through the content, reading it and then sending it out - it's spreading information without consumption - so it then does become a megaphone in some way. Of course, not everyone does this and I think that's the point you're trying to make but it has, at large, basically become a public RSS. We just all need to use it as a communication tool - but that's going to be hard to get through to a lot of people. Just saying.

Adam Bean
Adam Bean

Hey Murlu You are spot on about the retweet, it is used far to excessively. Yes there are an awful lot of people out there using Twitter as a megaphone, so to do the opposite and use it as a communication tool immediately makes you stand out.I have to question how effective this is for them. The only time I click on a link is because I have had some sort of one on one connection with the person who has Tweeted the link out. I never click on links from automated accounts. To me the more people who ignore all of the noise from the megaphone users, the quicker they will all disappear. Cheers Adam Bean


That's actually how I often feel - I mostly only click on links from people I actually know - it's just like a friend sending you a link through AIM - you can trust that what they're sending you is going to be gold. The others are very hit and miss; I guess it is "a party" haha - people just shouting trying to catch your attention but the ones that stand out are the ones that shout your name first.

Dorthe Stricker
Dorthe Stricker

You are so right. But somehow it's just very difficult to get people to understand the real deal with twitter. Twitter is the perfect tool for conversation. That doesn't mean that it can't be used for marketing and ultimately sale. But you to realize that the new customers want conversation and you always have to offer something of real value. Also if the are not buying right now.

Adam Bean
Adam Bean

Hey Dorthe You are spot on, Twitter isn't a mass sales tool!! It is a communication tool. The best way I find to explain to people how to use is by setting the example in the way I use it myself. We all want instant results these days, but Twitter doesn't work that way. Twitter is all about building quality relationships, and that takes time. Cheers Adam Bean