Social Networking Blog

Guy Clapperton on the evolving new media

Social networking – does it work for business?

Just seen an interesting Tweet from someone saying that barely a day goes by when they don’t get a message from someone saying Twitter is a waste of time and it won’t pick up any business for them. Having been commissiooned to write a book on social networking for business clearly I have a vested interest in disagreeing.

But I do disagree. In terms of social networking alone rather than just Twitter, have a look at the user forum at Christopher Ward Watches. OK, it’s just a forum – but the staff interact and the really clever bit is that once a year they ask the customers what they’d really like to see in a new watch, and then they make a limited edition based on it. That’s increased sales, it’s customer engagement, it’s a whole lot of stuff.

There’s also this nifty example from Ford in America. They’re offering free use of a car for six months to whoever does the best job of social media-ing it. And they’re offering 100 of these. This is non-trivial stuff, and someone with a spreadsheet at Ford’s HQ has worked out that it’s a good idea.

In terms of Twitter I can only offer anecdotal experience so far – but would have to say that the network was instrumental in finding the publisher for my book. that I’ve had about four media training sessions come in that I wouldn’t otherwise have had and that one or two speaking engagements have cropped up through Twitter contacts. I’m self-employed so we’re not talking millions, but I’m approaching five figures worth of business I would otherwise not have seen which I’ve had exclusively because of Twitter.

It’s almost something I don’t want to publicise too much. Immediately it goes completely mainstream the value in being one of the first to benefit from it will diminish, and there’ll be loads of other trainers and journalists pitching for the same work – it’ll be an open market just like email has become. It’ll become more difficult to compete, albeit in a fairer market. And yes, there will be more irrelevant noise and celebrities, which isn’t a business-productive use of the medium, but then who said it had to be? It’s like a phone, it’s like the Web, it’s different things to different people and if you want it to do jusu your stuff then that’s kind of tough. You need to learn to look for the bits that appeal to you.

For a while yet, there is business to be gained from Twitter and its ilk. Personally I wish the naysayers – and there are a fair few – would do a bit of research before criticising.


March 16, 2009 - Posted by | Unexpected things happen


  1. I think it’s like any networking – online or offline, you can get as much out as you put in – it’s about building relationships, being interesting, useful, authentic and transparent. If you are the sort of person to dismiss something out of hand after just dipping a toe in and asking ‘what’s in it for me?’ then you aren’t going to get anywhere, if you hang around and really get to grips with the networking part then yeah it’s gonna pay off. I’ve had some very interesting approaches thanks to Twitter and look forward to many more.

    Comment by Linda | March 16, 2009

  2. Quite agree Guy. I do get frustrated by Twitter at times, but there’s no doubting the benefits. Traffic wise alone it does the job (about 9% of my traffic comes from Twitter) and then there are company’s like Dell and Starbucks really using it well.

    I do wonder though what will happen in terms of the way people use it if and when it goes ‘really’ mainstream – it’s still got to go a very long way before it catches up with Facebook


    PS – where are your RSS feed buttons on yer blog? It only seems to have them on the comments..? 😉

    Comment by The Red Rocket | March 16, 2009

  3. Interesting point about the RSS – it should be there according to the WordPress dashboard but I can’t see it either. I’ll investigate – thanks.

    Comment by guyclapperton | March 16, 2009

  4. Fixed!

    Comment by guyclapperton | March 19, 2009

  5. Agree with your comments Guy. It’s so important to have a presence in the online world now more than ever and to be interacting with customers on as many platforms as possible. There is a wealth of opportunity for businesses to market their business and reach a huge audience for free through such sites. I think SMBs in particular worry that they do not have the time to spend doing this, but in a recession, this is the perfect time to step back and concentrate on building on the relationships you do already have as well as harnessing new ones. Tim Kimber, Office Live product manager, Blog:

    Comment by Tim Kimber | March 20, 2009

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