Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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8/29/2008
07:06 PM
Michael Singer
Michael Singer
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Twitter, Not Rock 'N' Roll, Saved My Soul

I'm getting lots of questions about whether Twitter and other microblogging sites can and should be used in the enterprise, to which I say, "Can you afford not to?"

I'm getting lots of questions about whether Twitter and other microblogging sites can and should be used in the enterprise, to which I say, "Can you afford not to?"I'm having an epiphany this week about microblogging. It mostly has to do with the fact that people from all walks of life are starting to really find ways of using Twitter, Pownce, and Jaiku.

This all started a couple of weeks ago when I asked a broad question on LinkedIn:

"How is your company adopting microblogging as part of your Web 2.0 strategy? Twitter, Pownce, and Jaiku -- they're the standard for microblogging, but so are updates on Facebook and LinkedIn. How is your company using this subset of Web 2.0? Does your IT department cringe? Is your Marketing department drooling? Does your CIO even get it?"

I followed this up with a query on my Twitter account asking if people wanted to hear more about microblogging as a strategy.

The responses were overwhelmingly positive and I'd been planning to write up about my findings when I got the chance to answer a skeptic firsthand.

TechWeb's sister site InternetEvolution posted Rob Salkowitz's thoughts on "The Tweeting of GenX." Rob's a smart guy and author of "Generation Blend: Managing Across the Technology Age Gap" and co-author, with Daniel W. Rasmus, of "Listening to the Future: Insights from the New World of Business."

Rob's take is that Generation X (to which I belong) is not a natural adopter of microblogging and that they needed to be convinced about its usefulness as a communications tool. Great blog.

Fortunately there was a fellow GenX'er who said he signed up for microblogging but hadn't posted anything and was disturbed by the thought that people used Twitter and its cousins for spreading spam and stalking people.

As an advocate of Twitter and other related microblogging sites, I can tell you that we have a new form of mass communication that just needs that one or two case-study example to prompt more adoption.

Here's one: Evacuations in the 2007 fires in San Diego were improved because officials and a PBS station with guts started Tweeting about the fire lines.

Here's the other: The Phoenix Mars Lander is sending Tweets to Mission Control and other scientists.

Of course, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is going to wax poetic about the subject, but the true test should be measured in the honest replies that I got.

"The advocacy of microblogging is pretty much all from the Digital Marketing dept, and pretty much all me. I'm a heavy Twitter user, to the extent that I even set up a dedicated group blog about microblogging..."

"Every time someone has to leave for an appt or is out of the office, it gets tossed in an email. One of the goals is to shift this over to 'updates' on some platform or other. Get it out of the in-box, make it available to people who are interested."

"Micro-Blogging is a great way to get your message out to likeminded individuals. My company has embraced micro-blogging tools like Pownce, ReJaw, Twitter, Plurk and Identi.ca for a few months now. The key is to be active across the platforms you feel work best for your industry and to only connect to likeminded individuals. Following 1,000 people won't work. Spamming won't work. Lying won't work. Social media is about real relationships and real business coming from those relationships."

"We're in an experimental phase with the use of Twitter. We're slowly building a global band of Twitterers around one of our B2B process automation system brands, DeltaV. I've set up a "how to" page in Google Sites. We've had some questions about the product, but it's mainly a place where Emerson people, DeltaV customers, and some members of the trade press connect together. Internally, our IT folks don't block access to sites like Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, YouTube, etc., but I've heard from some of the process manufacturers we serve, that these "Web 2.0"-type sites are being blocked by their IT departments."

The takeaway here is that microblogging should be used as a communications tool in the same way that you or your company communicates with your customers. Would you throw out your e-mail systems because of spam? How about your instant messaging client just because it may have a weak port to be exploited by hackers and bots?

If your company is still unsure, get a few of your employees to use microblogging and tell them to report back after two weeks and find out how many more leads they've gotten or replies from customers they're fielding. These are all "buy" signals that you and your company can use to its advantage.

Business is a conversation. Microblogging is the lowest barrier to entry. Nuff said.

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Follow my Twitter at MichaelSinger.

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