Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send and read short text updates (otherwise known as tweets) about what they’re thinking or doing. Its been around for a while (a couple of years is a long while in Internetland) and all the ‘cool’ companies are doing it.
Is it a fad? Is it going to last? Will we look back in a few years time and laugh about how in 2008 everyone just HAD to have a company Twitter and realise in hindsight how pointless it all was? I’m guessing yes (at least partly), but smarter people than me can help you make a more enlightened decision; read Jeremiah Owyang’s rundown on Twitter if you’re after a succinct overview.
There’s no doubt that engaging with your customers is the best way to build profitable relationships, but if you’re after a help centre, check out Get Satisfaction instead, because Twitter really isn’t designed as a company-wide customer service tool.
On the other hand, if you have intelligent, web-savvy employees, putting their Twitter feeds on the company website is a great idea, it gives customers and clients a unique insight into the day-to-day lives of the people who help them. I think more CEOs should do it and I’m fascinated by Barack Obama’s Twitter feed, although he uses it more as an events alert system than an insight into his thought process.
There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of company twittering, but like anything, if you do it half-arsed, or don’t do it right, you’ll look stupid. If you reckon it’s worth a shot, have a go, but keep in mind the whole world will be watching. Know what you want to achieve first and check out plenty of other company Tweets to see who is doing it well and who isn’t.