Friday, June 11, 2010

Is Twitter a Colossal Waste of Time?

Do you remember when you first started using instant messaging tools? Once you realized how easy it was to have an immediate one-on-one conversation with someone you were hooked. It was instant gratification. You could even have a private conversation with someone while you were in a group meeting. After using instant messaging, you wondered how you ever lived without it, right?

When cellphones were able to handle data, text messaging became the new trend. In fact, many of us choose text over voice because it can be done quietly and asynchronously. And we wonder how we ever lived without it.

And now there’s twitter.

Now you can have a conversation with anyone, even perfect strangers. Correction – now you can have a conversation with everyone. The big difference between standard text messaging and tweeting is that all of our messages go out for the world to see.

Do I really need to know that @(name) finally had a bowel movement, or that @(another-name) rescued her kitten from a tree? No, I really don’t.

Yes, an argument can be made that twitter is a colossal waste of time.

For a long time I thought twitter was just noise. Clutter. One more time drain. Call me slow, but I have to say that I finally get it.

I now understand the magic of twitter.

Sure, there’s a lot of garbage out there. And no, I don’t need to read most of it. But there’s also a goldmine of free market data on twitter. It’s an essential tool for companies looking for information about their products, or their customers’ needs, or their competitor’s products.

If you think nobody is tweeting about your products or services, think again. Even a topic that some might consider old-fashioned like “mainframe” gets discussed on twitter.

If you’re not tweeting about your business someone else is. If you’re not setting your own business message on twitter someone else is. But more importantly, if you’re not listening to what your customers (and potential customers) are saying on twitter someone else is.

Think you can’t afford to tweet? Yes, it does take time – which is why I predict that most successful businesses will hire social media marketing managers over the next few years to cover this essential space. Even with tools like Tweetdeck and HootSuite that help you manage your searches and hashtags, it takes time and skill to sift through and mine the data. But, the real question is: Can you afford not to tweet?

If you want to join me on twitter you can follow me @cfmjewels.


One Womans Eye said...

I say embrace Twitter! If you are not careful it can be a time waster, but it can also be a wonderful way to not only get your marketing message out, but to learn something new and best of all to network and make new connections.

Colette said...

Well said Joanne! Thanks for the follow!

KarenG said...

I joined and still don't get it. But I'm doing it because sometimes these things take time. But no, I don't get it.

Colette said...

Karen, hang in there. It really does make sense after a while!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Sorry Co, I have to side with Don Draper on this one. We don't like tweets.

Colette said...

Anonymous, I suppose twitter would not have been popular in Don Draper's era. But then, we aren't living in the sixties anymore.

SteveB said...

Texting I get; Facebook I get; Tweeting (or is it Twittering?) aahhh, not! It just seems too random, and a bit narcissistic. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was born before WWII, but still have a good pulse.

Colette said...

Steve, glad to hear that pulse is strong!

It's interesting, it's clear from the responses here as well as those from the Forbes blog (where I also posted this) and on some forums that those who don't use twitter think it's a waste of time, and those who use it love it. Do they use it because they see value? Or do they see the value because they use it?

Dave said...

To me, Twitter is a bit like working in an open plan office.
In an open plan office, people chat and sometime you overhear things and say "Oh, I know the answer to that" or "I'm interested in that, can you keep me updated on it".
It's a more informal way of getting involved with stuff.

I use Twitter along the same lines.
I only follow a small group of people based on stuff they may post on the web etc and that I find interesting, on the basis that I think other stuff they say might also be interesting/relevant to me.

I don't look at their twitter posts every day (bit like being out of the office) but when I do I often find stuff that is relevant to my interests.

I don't tweet much. I wonder if that indicates a boring life on my part!

Colette said...

Dave, I love the analogy to working in open space. Yes, it really is much like that -- wide open space.

Ann Best said...

I'm with KarenG. I joined, and tried it a bit. But I couldn't get it, and decided I have to choose. Blogging first. I prefer a slower pace and more content. Maybe if I think it would be useful when my book's published I'll try it. But not now.
Good post, though. It's something we're all aware of and think about.