The start-up web company I work for has increasingly been using Twitter for business purposes. A colleague set up the account last year, but in the last month, we’ve really been at it. This is interesting, because in the last few months, everyone has started Twittering in massive numbers – at least it seems that way in the UK. I have no idea why momentum has gone through the roof in the last few months, but business has really discovered Twitter.
I first came across Twitter in 2007 when I was writing for a now defunct newspaper based in Second Life, The Avastar, an experiment of the Bild Verlag in Berlin (we all do things we regret in our youth don’t we? Actually it taught me a great deal about the still young concept of web 2.0, but I digress). Back then I viewed companies using Twitter (and there weren’t many then, save for developers) as I viewed companies that use Second Life – I would have referred to them using that great levelling term from my high school days in Sydney: ‘try-hard’.
And this morning, a colleague and I had some fundamental disagreements about using Twitter for business. He felt, that in our line of work (editorial content for business), we should use Twitter to guide our followers to our content, and have as strong an editorial focus as we would on the site. I felt differently, whcih was clear after tweeting a load of random nonsense on behalf of the company yesterday. But Twitter, it seems to me, should arguably be used as the same way an editor increasingly treats online news – to guide the reader to useful sources. In the future, editors will earn their living by being an authoritive source who can assist readers through the maelstrom of the web – opinion is everywhere – but authority (and the time it takes to become authorititve) are valuable. I feel the same way about Twitter, and I also, perhaps awkwardly, feel twinges of how I did two years ago in relation to ‘try-hard’ companies trying to be down with the web. In a way, and I wish I could be more authoritive myself – we’re probably both right.
Companies will continue to jump on bandwagons if they think there is gain to be had. We can’t stop that, and nor should we. Another cool tool will come along, and it’ll be another couple of years before it too is lost to the masses. But companies and individuals will, it’s my guess, see more long-term gain (presuming they’re using Twitter as a promotional tool) in using Twitter to guide and inform, instead of taking the highly predictable path of simply directing back to one’s homepage.
Next day. Ah-hah: Just read this
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