There are plenty of individuals using Twitter for friendly banter with their mates. And, if your followers are your mates, that probably works well.
There are also plenty of professional people using Twitter for pithy, concise business commentary. That also works well.
What doesn't work, I don't think, is where professional people exchange idle banter with their business followers, as if those followers are their mates. That's just embarrassing. If I am following a business on Twitter, I'm looking for commentary and insights about that business, its products and its industry.
I'm going to pick on Intuit / QuickBooks here. Intuit in the UK has three Twitter accounts: @rebeccaintuit, @intuitUK and @QuickBooks_UK. As a big fan of QuickBooks, I want their Twitter stream to put me on the inside track. I want to hear serious commentary about upcoming QB releases; discussions about why QB does things one way rather than another; their view on the cloud-computing revolution sweeping through their industry; and so on.
But instead I get this kind of thing:
Even the rare business-related tweet is delivered in a breathless too-much-punctuation SHOUTY tone of voice:
Hiding amongst all this chatter is a very occasional snippet actually aimed at QuickBooks users. But blink and you miss them:
I think Intuit is seriously missing a trick here. They could be using Twitter to keep their core followers working as advocates. Not to dispense trivial chatter.
Intuit might take the view that the vast majority of accounting software users don't give a monkey's about technical intricacies like: why setting up a chart of accounts by manually grouping together sets of non-continuous numeric codes (Sage) is much more time-consuming than setting up a hierarchy of items and sub-items (QB).
Or why it is practically impossible to investigate a month-on-month variance in your P&L using Sage, but trivially simple in QB and most other accounting packages.
Or why very rapid data-entry is always likely to be quicker in a locally-installed package (like Sage or QB) compared to a web-based package (like KashFlow or Xero).
Or (on the other hand) why sharing data with your accountant using a locally-installed packaged (like Sage or QB) can easily turn into a version control nightmare, but is trivially easy in a web-based package (like KashFlow or Xero).
And they'd be right.
Most people don't give a monkey's about this stuff.
But I'd imagine most people don't much care what time RebeccaIntuit went to bed, either.
Those people that find the intricacies of accounting software interesting are the same people who talk to their business contacts about accounting software. I've lost count of the number of people who I have bored to death about why, very specifically, Sage isn't a very good accounting package. And why, very specifically, Quickbooks is better.
And I have also been vocal about things I don't like about QuickBooks (as anyone who has ever searched for information about QuickBooks sunset policy on Google will know.)
(As it happens, I currently use Xero. Mainly as an experiment. I still prefer the very rapid data entry that is possible with installed software and which web-based accounting products can't yet offer. But it is great that any number of users (including my accountant) can access data simultaneously from anywhere.)
Coincidentally, I participated in a QuickBooks usability test last year. The story behind the features they were testing, and the challenges they had to overcome to get these features usable for all their customers, was fascinating. I can't tell you this story, because I signed a non-disclosure agreement at the start of the test, but this is just the kind of inside commentary QuickBooks could share with their loyal users.
Some more examples: when Intuit released QuickBooks 2003 there was a serious bug in that you couldn't enter YTD employer's NI amounts when setting up payroll for the first time (or something like that, it was a long time ago now). There was probably a good reason for, and story behind, that bug. If I'd been privy to that story, I'd probably have been a lot more tolerant of the bug.
And there was a substantial change to the way VAT was processed in the 2005 upgrade which, if you didn't read one particular dialog box carefully enough (I didn't), you ended up with a serious crapfest of a VAT reconciliation to perform. Again, being privy to the story and background behind that change would have made me much more tolerant of it. I would have delighted in explaining to other cross users why they really didn't need to be so cross, and how they could do the reconciliation they needed without spending entire days on it as I did.
For any business, it is the core of passionate users that really count for word-of-mouth marketing. For Saturn it is the people who famously show up at meets to discuss their (frankly quite dull-looking) cars. For Zendesk, it's those customers who turn up at bars to chat about helpdesk software. For Fiskars it is those people who log on to Fiskateers to talk about, er, craft scissors. For WD-40 it is those guys who join the WD-40 fan club to exchange tips about a funny lubricant in an aerosol can. And so on.
Still using a desk diary to manage your guesthouse reservations?
Try KeepMeBooked: simple web-based reservation management