Posts Tagged ‘tweets’

Are you still a-flutter about Twitter?

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Now that Twitter has gone more or less full circle — from a great idea to an overhyped phenomenon to another social media tool — the current debate centers around what will ultimately become of Twitter.

On one hand, we have people who see Twitter as a flash in the pan. The spammers and multi-level marketing trolls will take over the service, so the argument goes, as regular folks deem it’s just not all that interesting knowing what someone you barely know ate for breakfast.  And it’s the rare celebrity who tweets themselves: most are the product of publicists. Where’s the fun in that? No thanks, the masses will conclude and give up Twitter as not worth the time or effort. Ultimately, Twitter as a company will fail or get sucked into say Microsoft and that will be that.  Biz Stone will go off and make a business of selling rocks.

In the opposing camps, pundits like the NY Times David Carr are convinced that Twitter is here to stay. One emerging view is that Twitter is like plumbing – an essential component that makes the Internet what it is. Plumbing is something that will be around the long haul. Of particular value this group says is the immediacy of Twitter and the ability to quickly take the pulse on a range of topic.

It’s the rare company these days that lacks some sort of presence on Twitter. Most have their own Twitter feeds and some are even worth following.  For the most part, many companies presence on Twitter seems to be a defensive move to keep competitors from getting a leg up.  There have been some wins. As was widely reported – and tweeted – last year, Dell said it got some $6.5 million in sales just from Twitter, and without a well-defined strategy.  That’s some serious payback.

While Twitter does have some social connection capabilities, the social experience on Twitter is unsatisfying at best. Facebook has proven to be a far more effective as a way to rekindle old friendships or forge new ones online. Similarly, I’ve found that Web 1.0 style forums are more effective than Twitter for getting answers to such daunting questions as why does my Microsoft Outlook keep getting stuck or should I get surgery on my broken wrist.  (I did).  Forums don’t arbitrarily limit message length and have much better organization and richer content.

The drawback to Twitter as a social relationship building tool is its core strength – the 140 character limit.  Because of that defining characteristic, I think Twitter’s most important value is as an open, easily accessible, and fully customizable live 24 x 7 streaming headline service. Digg, for instance, provides something similar, but in a much more regimented and structured fashion. Plus, the fact that Digg votes are controlled behind the scenes in some sort of bizarre popularity contest is a real turn-off. The upcoming overhaul could change things and help Digg to be more Twitter-like.

Taken in the context of streaming headlines, there simply isn’t something like Twitter elsewhere on the Web with a comparable level of following and infrastructure. One of the great strengths of Twitter is all the many tools and resources that let you figure out how best to tap into the vast flow of Twitter information.  For instance, my favorite HootSuite lets me build out columns based on search terms and hashtags so I can quickly find pointers to video, stories and blog posts I might find interesting or useful. It has largely replaced the need for RSS, which is just a bit too much work for most people.

As noted VC Bill Gurley explains in the video clip below, Twitter allows anyone to create their own distribution and following. If you’ve got some good content, write a compelling blog post, tweet about it and before long you’ve got a pulpit.  That alone makes Twitter a good thing, and I am personally rooting for Biz Stone & co. to hang in there.

Follow me @BrianBuzz and let me know what you think.

Blogger Conduct: Official blogs vs. Personal blogs

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

While blogging has been largely accepted in most companies, there are many details still to be sorted out. One significant grey area is around what’s acceptable in corporate vs. personal blogs.

Many employees share insights and information in their company-sponsored wikis and blogs. Yet those same employees also may participate in non-work related blogs, tweets or wikis. When talking about a company-sponsored social media tool, the question becomes “on the corporate level who determines what is and what isn’t acceptable language?” We’re not talking about swearing or vulgar language, rather, we’re talking about what does an employee think they can share on a blog (whether public or private) vs. what the employer thinks is acceptable?

I recently ran across an interesting story in EContent Magazine titled “Companies Struggle with Social Media Guidelines.” The story is about a social media policy that The Washington Post recently implemented and the backlash they received from employees. Here is the explanation of the policy:

The policy covers routine issues for a media organization when it says, for example: “When using these networks, nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment. We never abandon the guidelines that govern the separation of news from opinion, the importance of fact and objectivity, the appropriate use of language and tone, and other hallmarks of our brand of journalism.”

I realize that working for a new organization puts those employees into a unique situation since they must maintain their impartiality. But how does this apply to a typical corporation?  What rights and responsibilities do employees have when their name is attached to their company?

Another example from the EContent story is a lesson to learn from. A waiter at a posh L.A. restaurant commented on his blog, “How to Succeed as a Failure,” that a famous actress left the restaurant without paying her bill or leaving a tip. The waiter has tweeted about other celebrity issues in his restaurant, but this issue caught the eyes of the restaurant’s corporate team and the waiter was fired. The waiter had this to say about the incident:

“I have to admit that what I did might not have had my own best interest at hand. I did not think anyone, other than the 22 people following me, would read what I tweeted. That was my ignorance to the power of social media.”

The waiter lost his job but he noted that he had only 22 followers on Twitter when the incident occurred, and now he has 1,365.

I believe that if employees are writing on a company blog or wiki, then they should be required to follow their company’s basic social media  guidelines. However, as the EContent story suggests, you can attract more bees with honey than you can with vinegar.

The EContent story talks about how IBM, “a company with 400,000 employees worldwide, an estimated 17,000 of whom are bloggers and 200,000 of whom are on LinkedIn,” implemented a policy that included input from employees. Instead of simply laying down a draconian law with regards to blog and wikis, IBM solicited input from employees and made them feel a part of the decision-making process. That simple act, garnering input and making the employees feel as though they had skin in the game, made everything work smoothly.

Noted blogger Tim O’Reilly has created at Draft Blogger’s Code of Conduct which does a good job of addressing the issue of guidelines for blogging. Here are the six rules O’Reilly asks everyone to consider:

  1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.
  2. We won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t say in person.
  3. We connect privately before we respond publicly.
  4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.
  5. We do not allow anonymous comments.
  6. We ignore the trolls.

It’s a very slippery slope when freedom of speech becomes involved. As an employee do I give up some of those rights? What are your thoughts on the responsibility of the person who is tweeting and posting? What is your point of view on the topic of social media guidelines?

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