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June 21, 2009Why I’m never using Twitter

I took a poll of my friends. ‘How should I kick-start my blog?’ I asked them. ‘It’s got to be something current, something that’s relevant to my business , something that shows I’m on the ball…’

And they said — write about Twitter.

I said no. For starters, I don’t twitter. From what I’ve seen of it, I’ve no desire to be any part of it. Moreover, writers writing about twitter (from either side) have pretty much done the subject to death. Talking about Twitter (if you’ll forgive me sounding like a teenager) is just so 2008.

Then I read this. If you can’t be bothered to read it, I’ll save you a bit of time. It’s pretentious crap. If you don’t believe me, I’ll reprint the title for you. “Twitter ripped the veil off ‘the other’ – and we saw ourselves” it screams, all but adding a double!! exclamation mark in a hyperbolic gesture that boomerangs back right up its backside. The article goes on to loudly proclaim that twitter “allowed the world to connect with the Tehran rebels.”

Yes, we get it. With Twitter you can aggregate a vast number of voices in a very short space of time. And, obviously, a lot of them are pretty angry about the recent elections over there. But really, this is just stating the pretty-bleeding-obvious. Moreover, it doesn’t tell us a great deal else. Using twitter in this way is really just a way of counting crowds. It’s no more revolutionary than taking a straw poll of your mates down the pub — only now you can do it for people a thousand miles away. It’s something, I admit. But it’s hardly the reinvention of the web.

The simple fact is there are better sources available elsewhere — and the web has made those pretty much instantaneous, too. And if you want the real scoop on Iran, you’re better off looking at the detailed analysis. Already I can access this excellent report from Chatham House.

If you want a report with a personal twist, you’re still better off sticking to the blogs. Remember Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger? His reports were instrumental in giving us the inside story on the Iraq invasion. I don’t think his commentary would have been nearly as insightful had he been limited to a few hundred characters a few times a day.

And therein lies the problem. Twitter is a mess. It’s a morass of voices, most of them mumbling pretty inane stuff about their daily lives. I’ve seen people twitter about who they’re sitting next to on the bus — invariably a smelly old man they’d rather not be sitting next to. A fun way of keeping in touch with mates, perhaps. But a revolution in communications it ain’t.

Twitter isn’t good for business because it isn’t businesslike. It is a medium that demands immediacy, and that’s best done at a personal level. Sure you could have your CEO twitter, but shouldn’t he be busy running the business? And if you employ a firm to twitter for you, or leave it to your in-house PR people, well, you’re still missing the point of what Twitter is best at.

I don’t twitter because I think 99% of the time it’s vapid and inane. I wouldn’t encourage anyone in business to twitter for the same reason. Okay, so you can reach your clients quickly. But is sending them a 140 character message that shows up next to some other message about their mate who’s stuck next to Mr Stinky on the bus again really going to send out the message you want to project?

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This entry was posted on Sunday, June 21st, 2009 at 10:59 pm and is filed under Blog, Me and my business, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments

  1. […] never more than thirty seconds away by BlackBerry. He said to me, ‘I’ve seen your latest blog post. What the hell is […]

  2. I totally agree. One wonders how long it’ll be until they release a Twitter v2.0 (or should I say livejournal) and we can write in paragraphs again. ;)

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