Twitter – Boon or Bane of Business

For any of you who have yet to join the site, Twitter is a micro-blogging site in which each post is 140 characters or less. People “follow” the posts of other people, and have their own posts followed. Coupled with the ability to search for topics of interest and to share and filter information quickly, this site has seen itself applied to a variety of uses.

Business Boon

Some businesses have applied Twitter to increase their revenues. Pushing out information in an easy-to-share manner, new products and services can be promoted quickly and easily.

One ice cream cart in Toronto used Twitter to post the special flavor of the day each morning. Another mobile business used it to update their location on a regular basis (though now there’s another service just for this feature).

Another typical use is for customer service – Twitter provides a very public way for customers to connect with a company and get issues resolved rapidly. Because the feeds are generally public, a good customer service response can gain a lot of positive publicity.

The search functionality as well is beneficial to businesses. Needs can be identified, and potential customers can be found by looking through posts and filtering by a variety of keywords. Posting questions to the public can gain interesting feedback as the crowd weighs in on the issues.

Business Bane

Of course, no system is perfect. A large number of the posts on Twitter are completely inane, not to mention those generated by bots. While choosing who to follow, as I do, can limit the amount of complete rubbish entering your feed, there’s never any complete escaping it (unless, of course, you just don’t visit the site at all). From a business perspective, having employees spend time on Twitter can result in large amounts of wasted time as people click through links, read posts that have nothing to do with their work, and potentially post information damaging to the business (although this last point has more to do with trusting your employees to be responsible than Twitter in particular).

As such, the time spent on Twitter in the business world can be something that drains time from other, more productive tasks.

Summary

Personally, I use Twitter, and have found it to be quite useful for sharing information, getting answers to questions, and engaging with people I would otherwise not interact with. However, like most things in life, the issue here is not black and white, but one of responsible use and moderation.

How about you? What do you think of Twitter, and what are some of the issues you see businesses facing with the now massive micro-blogging engine?