That is the question.
With a million and one answers.
Twitter, the 140-character micro-blogging site, has generated the largest social media tsunami of the past year.
Pundit opinion runs the gamut from the greatest thing since…the last greatest thing on the Internet…to a debilitating waste of time for both Twitterer and follower.
The real question is, “What is it good for?”
At this point, it seems that Twitter is best for:
- A thought leader whose opinions or even daily insights are worth reading
- A source of fast-changing, frequently-updated news, data or information
- A celebrity, athlete, politician or other high-visibility figure with a fan base that cares about she or he is thinking about or doing
- A retail business whose loyal customers are on the lookout for the latest deals, new products or special offers
Oh yeah, then there’s my dog Mollie. She also has her own Twitter profile. She’s dumb as a bag of hammers, but as they say, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”
On a serious note, Twitter also has merit for publications and other content sources that hope to attract readers by teasing out their content, tweet by tweet. Twitter also helps foster community among people with shared interests, from road cycling to interior design. Brands are exploring creative ways, including polls and contests, to enhance their overall visibility via Twitter.
Twitter-land is a wild and wooly landscape. Its few rules and regulations means that it’s easy for squatters to use any trade name they want, so for merely defensive reasons to protect one’s brand, it makes sense to register several permutations of a company’s name or product name. It’s all free, so the barrier to abuse is low, but thankfully the cost of defensive maneuvers is also low.
The long term utility and implications of Twitter probably still remain to be seen, from both a commercial as well as sociological perspective.
I’ve already begun to hear young adults say Twitter is a waste of time. But I’ve also heard of Twitter addicts who send tweets to friends on their Blackberries…while they’re having dinner together!
Here at The Creative Alliance, after some initial skepticism, we’ve taken an agnostic approach, taking the time to evaluate whether there’s enough potential ROI for a client to not only set up a Twitter account, but to invest in maintaining a Twitter presence. A full 60 percent of Twitter profiles get abandoned, and this is not just individual pages. Many companies, jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, have learned that staying interesting and current is a lot harder than it looks. Sure it’s free…but it can also be very expensive.