Twitter is news, not social media, or is it?


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Partick Stafford, a journalist at SmartCompany reports that “Twitter is news, not social media“.

I think he’s way off the ball. Sure, the survey he quotes says that, but simply reproducing the press release doesn’t contribute much to the conversation. And sure the survey is correct, because it reports what the masses are doing but not what the most effective use of Twitter is in enhancing customer engagement.

I’m not saying that Twitter is not a good broadcast medium, for some it is a fantastic channel to reach very large networks. What I am saying is that this one use of Twitter, although it may be dominant, is not a guideline as to how Twitter should or can be used.

Here’s what I commented at SmartCompany:

Hmm, pretty much a zero value piece of “news”. Of course Twitter is mostly just picked up and used as a broadcast medium, that’s what SmartCompany does for example. I’ve tried tweeting back to @smartcompany from time to time just to see if they are listening and never had an answer. The study is just reporting one reasonable use of Twitter, but more often than not this use is not a well considered and thought out approach it is usually a knee jerk reaction or a lazy way of “getting into” social media.

The smart firms are leading by miles with Twitter as a communication tool. It’s a minority for sure, and this is all the research is reporting. Who would care what the research is reporting – it’s about what you and your company can do to get ahead of the mass not be part of it. If you’d like to add $100 million a year on your valuation, like Zappos for the last 5 years, or be the #1 social media savvy company in the US, like Microsoft, you don’t get there by using Twitter solely as a broadcast channel.

In fact more people are now coming to Microsoft’s online support resources directly from Facebook and Twitter than from other parts of the company’s own website.

Twitter is a tool in a broader customer engagement strategy, for most firms, not all but most. You don’t get more engagement by more broadcast alone. Isn’t that obvious?


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Walter Adamson
I help firms create optimal customer experiences by integrating social data, teams & processes with enterprise systems. The much vaunted 360-view of the customer can be a bottomless pit without a clear data strategy. I help you deliver a greatly improved customer experience starting with a "45-degree" view of the customer, fully utilising social data analytics. I clarify your objectives and what data you need to service them, and guide you to operationalise "social at scale" to consistently deliver valuable customer experience at every social touch point.


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