Monday, 12 October 2009

Should businesses tweet, or twit ?

What does a business do with social media ? While a trillion words have been written on this subject, not much light has been shone, I submit. Businesses are still struggling with what to do. Take the example of Twitter.

I will straightaway confess that I am not a fan of Twitter. I don’t tweet (the more appropriate phrase should be “twit”, but because of the unfortunate connotations of that word, we’ll let it pass). But I dodged my Net Nanny ( no surprises, its blocked here) to look at what business leaders and businesses are doing here.

Here are some actual tweets (admittedly I was selective about what I picked)

Richard Branson (Virgin)

* Looking forward to the cricket today; Come on England
* I do love Monaco this time of the year. The Prince is such a gracious host to the world of sport

Jack Welch (needs no intro)

* Kennedy celebration of life was impressive
* Beckett has had a brutal scary week – 8 home runs

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook – I thought he should know a thing or two about social media)

* So many interesting people are following me. I think I’ll follow some of you guys as well.
* Playing with TweetDeck. Its pretty neat.

Evan Williams (CEO Twitter ; the man himself)

* There’s a crapload of people in my backyard.
* Normally I love Mondays

I gave up. Do I have to read this inanity ? Maybe I should go to company tweets ; that might be a better representation of what businesses are doing with Twitter.


* If you’re interested in hearing a rebroadcast of our 3Q earnings call, click here.
* Hope everyone is enjoying their Friday


* GSK US Blog post. The Bloggers are coming. The Bloggers are coming.
* Yay. Great news. Spotted random people in Phila sneezing into their elbows or sleeves today. Message must be getting out there

Google (well over a million followers)

*“Sex, Conference Calls, outdated FCC rules” & our take on Google Voice
* Gmail team’s good advice on how to create secure passwords at …….

Reasonable conclusion – Businesses don’t have a clue as to what to do with Twitter.


Sandhyasriram said...

I just hope Evan Williams dosent read your blogs.

i feel that twitter is pretty nascent now. people are still deliberating what to do with it. so they are keeping their presence low profile. better than getting into a cattle class controversy.

But the very fact that Ramesh takes the pain of going thru so many tweets (or twits) stands to prove a fact that twitter is making a mark :-)

A journey called Life said...

i share ur sentiments about Twitter.. sometimes just so many words not enough for a professional set up.. but its making steady headway so i think its here to stay (may be its avatars will change and evolve over a period of time)

Srivats said...

as ACJL said it seems its hear to stay. But I dont use it either, maintaining orkut and blogger is good enough. I guess slowly we are all moving into virtual life, later there wont be a real meeting or greeting necessary we would all be sitting in front of comptuers 17 hours a day!

athivas said...

I am so dumb about business (infact, blind),neither do I tweet. So cannot really understand what businessmen do with Twitter or social networking sites/tools. But, the general trend has been like this:when something new comes in, it was inappropriately used by irrelevant people. Later, these people made the best out of the irrelevant thing, with little changes, very appropriately.So, can it be said: Businesses don’t have a clue as to what to do with Twitter, (may I also add), FOR NOW??

Preeti Shenoy said...

Ramesh, If you followed the tweets/twits of 'The Hindu', 'NY times' and the likes, then you'd know the real power of twitter. Also a few interesting people as Zuckerberg tweeted :-)

I was never a fan of twitter till my geek friends opened my way of thinking.The recent news clip of 'tweeting for a good cause' is worth watching.

Twitter is like any other tool. How useful it is depends on HOW you use it. And thing is many people would otherwise have no way to 'reach' the likes of Welch and Branson. But here, they are delighted when they get instant responses from these iconic figures which probably explains why Branson has more than 46,000 followers :-)


J said...

Not being a user of Twitter myself, your intentionally one-sided take is thought provoking. Clearly there seems to be some usefulness to Twitter - Iran elections is a case in point. But the US media made such a big deal of it that I wonder how much was exaggeration. Anyway back to companies, apparently some use it successfully to communicate brand launches and do customer support type stuff. But it is not obvious to me why this would be the right medium. Well so far I am unfortunately still on your side... I view Twitter as a way to say to world what is topmost on one's mind and if companies actually did that, it would make a fascinating read. What do they think about the competitor's new ad, how are they weathering the credit crisis, are they really on track to meet their sales targets... but we know they cant/wont do that so I have to agree that it isn't clear why companies tweet. Also thanks for illuminating me on the pitifully boring lives of corporate celebs.

thethoughtfultrain said...

As Sandhya wisely points out, Twitter if still a baby. People (barring people below 25 :D ) still dont see the point of tweets. So. in this case, most businesses are testing the waters by putting in tweets which are more or less harmeless.

But I have a feeling that all the craze over celebrities will cool a little what with most of them tweeting, FBing, blogging. It was coz they were out of reach, the people idolized them. Businesses will probably need to look at other ways of marketing other than celebrity endorsements. I know, I have gone off your theme a little bit, but what do you think?

Adesh Sidhu said...

Businesses definitely have clue how to use twitter. Problem is businesses try to run in their old defined ways and want to use social media (twitter, facebook etc) to have kind-of-cool look. Unfortunately, to use social effectively, way of running businesses needs to be changed. Anyways, check out Zappos. They are apparently use social media best.

Ramesh said...

Sorry folks - I am late in responding. My Net Nanny cut my intenet connection, not because I wrote something naughty, but because babudom here is even bigger than in my own land. I'm now back.

@Sandhya - No chance of my being even in the same planet as Evan Williams. Yeah I heard about the cattle class stuff - I am amazed that our moral police and those who get offended on a trifle, even know about Twitter

@AJCL - Yeah, share your view. Its making some headway, but I am still a doubter.

@Sri - Scary day when we relate only through computers. Although I must say I interact with you and a few others here only through computers and it has been one of the most pleasurable and rewarding of experiences.

@athivas - Dumb, blind, and such other adjectives have no place anywhere near the bright athivas. Witness your wise comment, as always. I stand corrected. Businesses don't have a clue FOR NOW. Absolutely right.

Ramesh said...

@Preeti - I know you are a converted fan and an experienced social media person like you has more insights into this than me for sure. You are right; it depends on how you use it, and in the business area, at least, people are still figuring it out.

@J - Use of Twitter in Iran and Xinjiang is highly exaggerated. The first thing the authorities do is block it. I know from my own experience - Twitter is still blocked here - that its a pain to bypass these blocks.

And yeah I'm still puzzled by its relevance in business, although some others like Preeti are clearer.

@thoughtful train - I know you're only 16, but there are some oldies in Twitter too :) You've got a very interesting point. Celebrities is all about the mystery and mystique. If they become too commonplace, some of the shine will go off. What else to expect from this train, other than such a thoughtful comment.

@Adesh - You have posted before on its relevance to business - you have a better insight. I'll check out Zappos - didn't know they were one of the best.

Priya Ganesh said...

it so depends on what you tweet. I got up just now and caught in a traffic jam on the way to office take away the pleasure.

But Tweet is here to stay. The possibilities of turning these social networking sites into business avenues outweigh the demerits of them!

Ramesh said...

@Pariya - Thanks for coming this way and commenting. Tweeting for personal pleasure I can understand. But for business ?? I am still scratching my head. Lets try tweeting Mike ; shall we !!

Priya Ganesh said...

And it may not be limited to tweeting alone..did you know you can connect with Mike on FB and Linkedin.

I did:)

Aashish said...

I think Twitter is crap, but just today, someone shared this hilarious link (on Facebook) of a guy who tweets about stuff his dad says - hilarious!

Ramesh said...

@Priya - You did !!!!???

@Aashish - Hee Ho Ho

Pranav said...

Personally..I don't see any value to Twitter outside of the Journalism sphere. I am not dying to know that some person or entity on twitter had an amazing cup of coffee. That being said, I use twitter for my radio station - more because my friends forced me to do so. It still has not worked wonders for me - not like facebook has.

Ramesh said...

@Pranav - There's surely value in the journalistic and personal spheres. Would be keen to see how it helps you with the radio station - how does it do better than say Facebook ?

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