Twitter: to love or to loathe?

London, 19th April 2011 - Twitter remains remarkably divisive amongst people I know. Some claim it’s a total waste of time, and only serves to help celebrities preach to their devoted followers. Others feel that it is redefining the communications landscape.

 

I sat firmly in the non-believer group when I first signed up a couple of years ago. Being a communications person, though, I felt I’d best take a look and make my own mind up.

 

It does take some time to get it. Journalists seem to love it, so any self respecting PR person ought to be there, even if they’re only watching. But should others get involved?
The case for consumer businesses is reasonably clear, if only because they need to be watching what people might be saying about their products, good and bad. Others are using it rather cutely to grow affinity with their brand. John Lewis does most things well, and in my view it’s pretty good at Twitter too.
What about business to business? This provoked great debate at a training course I ran last week with nine senior PR people from across Europe. They had about 80 years PR experience between them, so it was a privilege to lead their discussions. Some felt Twitter had little place in b2b communications. Others were much more positive.
My view is this. I love news. My primary sources are The Times, and the BBC website. These days, it’s my Twitter feed too. I’m starting to view it as my newspaper in my pocket. By adding and changing who I follow, I change the content of the paper. It reflects my interests: healthcare, technology, training and mentoring, Leicester City Football Club, cricket and disability issues. Some of my correspondents are journalists. Others tweet in a corporate capacity. Others are simply subject enthusiasts. I hire them and fire them with a simple keystroke.
I can’t be the only person to be changing the way in which I gather news. Therein lies the opportunity presented by Twitter. If you are an expert, you can find new audiences. But you have to be persistent, and you have to have something interesting to say. Just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t make you newsworthy. Unless you’re Lady Gaga.