Had a very interesting question come in yesterday in this comment from DesignGuy. He asks,
"In your Twitter-experienced opinion, do you think it would be a good place for a newsletter drive?"
As I said in response to the comment, my answer would be 'yes' and'no'... it depends... and I promised to elaborate in a post, so here goes..
Social networks are all about building relationships - most people use them to network and make new connections and keep in touch with existing 'real-life' friends. So ordinarily, I'd be saying that using Twitter for purely 'self-promotion' purposes is a bit of a bad idea - unless you are socially adept enough to do it in such a way that you don't abuse the trust people have placed in you and ultimately alienate people.
But this question is about a newsletter drive for an online magazine, so right there we're in a different space...
Now whilst many commentators would rather 'big business' kept out of social media, just as many (as far as I can tell) people, myself included, like to follow companies - and in particular, news services - so they can get the latest news as it happens. I'm not looking to build a personal relationship with them, so provided they tweet what I'm looking for - I'm happy.
So, whilst I wouldn't recommend getting started on Twitter with a short 'campaign' burst - there are other better tools and strategies for that - there's no question Twitter could work for you, provided you take a long term view.
The key thing to think about here is "Whose Twitter account is it?" If it's in your name DesignGuy, then I'd be wanting to see interesting, fun and useful tweets most of the time, with no more than a light sprinkling of promotional tweets. If you do nothing but promote your company, ie. never engage with anyone and never show any personality, you're likely to attract similar 'followers' who auto-followed you and probably aren't actually 'listening'.
On the other hand, if the account was set up as San Diego Metro, I'd fully expect a steady stream of headlines and links to the full article. And, personally, I'd have no problem with regular promotional messages into the mix. In this scenario, I think it's reasonably safe to assume that your followers are receptive and 'listening' for some of the time - despite the fact that its a fairly one-sided relationship. You also have the option of naming the 'voice(s)' behind the tweets. This can add personality and improve engagement and interaction.
Look at this screen grab (click to enlarge) of CNET UK on Twitter (using Power Twitter).
To me, this is the perfect blend of useful information, engagement and fun - loads of personality, very 'on brand'. This picture doesn't show it, but they do @reply.
And finally... you mentioned 'time'... I think you need to be disciplined here, but I'm the worst person to comment on that. I tend to stay away (from Twitter) if time is stretched, but that's not the greatest of strategies. Better would be to create a routine of sorts. That may mean setting aside an hour a week, or 10 minutes a day etc. and it will almost certainly mean automating the bulk of the work. Notice that CNET UK's tweets are coming from different sources - Twitterfeed and Twhirl. Twitterfeed is just one of many ways you can tweet automatically as soon as you publish a post - ie. no extra work involved. The Twhirl ones are the only manually generated tweets - and this particular page shows a higher % of these (of all tweets) than their average.
So - there it is - that's my answer, but you can bet your life that there'll be plenty of other "Twitter-experienced opinions" that will differ from mine. Perhaps I can persuade some of them to add theirs here.
Let me know what you decide to do DesignGuy - and thanks for asking. :o)