To Tweet, Or Not To Tweet

Twitter is currently the second most popular social networking site in the world. Seated just behind Facebook in popularity, Twitter receives an estimated unique monthly visitor number of 250 million people (Facebook receives 750 million). This makes Twitter one of the best ways to connect with people through social media. Although I have never used Twitter in my life, I constantly hear about news, events, and controversial things said by famous tweeters, which shows just how quickly things said on Twitter spread across the rest of the web.

One of the reasons why Twitter is such a good resource for businesses to use is the constant connection that is provided by the network. Twitter is a website that users usually like to keep up to date with and it can be constantly used whether at home, work, or travelling. Access to Twitter through cellphones has made this social media easily accessible anywhere in the world.
A 2009 article from The Dominion Post, a local Wellington newspaper, talks about the constant connection Twitter provides and even gives a few examples of business in Wellington that used Twitter as it was just emerging onto the scene. One business used Twitter to offer a coffee special and managed to sell more coffees than it had in the previous three weeks. Although there are examples like this, it is difficult to measure the actual benefits from Twitter, although it does provide plenty of exposure for businesses.

There are four ways that companies have been found to use twitter for business. These are; direct, indirect, internal, and inbound signaling.
The direct approach – this approach is the most common use, in which the business uses Twitter for marketing and public relations.
The indirect approach – this approach lets employees use Twitter, and “as the employees use Twitter to enhance their own personal reputations, the company’s reputation is also enhanced by proxy”.
The internal approach – this approach is used for sharing ideas and communicating about projects within the business, although this is not recommended due to the fact that most of this information is usually confidential.
The inbound signaling approach –  this approach is about “listening” to what is being said on Twitter about the business rather than actually using it to communicate.
This article also recommends making sure employees understand the limits of what is acceptable for posting and encourages having a defined public web participation policy within the company. This is very important for a business, as it will make sure that the image being sent out by their employees is the desired one.

Twitter in the sporting world is very popular and many sporting stars have a Twitter account, letting you know about everything that is going on in their life as well as their opinions on current news and events. Twitter is the easiest fan-star communication system in the world so far, and provides great feedback and exposure to sports clubs, as well as individuals.
Due to Twitter’s popularity, the social media can make someone famous overnight. A great example of this is the recent explosion in popularity of Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks. #Linsanity became a trending topic on Twitter for a week as Lin turned in some brilliant performances. The popularity of Lin was reported to have lead to an increase in New York Knicks games broadcast in Taiwan, China, and the Philippines (obviously leading to a boost in income and exposure for the Knicks).

But is Twitter use worthwhile for both sports players and businessmen? All big names on Twitter are virtually a click away from destroying their image. This article asks the question, “is Twitter worth it?”. One poorly worded tweet could cause a big problem for any representative of a business or sporting club. Is this a risk worth taking due to the many positives of Twitter? There are also many stars that don’t have Twitter accounts that are doing great with their fans (such as Peyton Manning, and Lionel Messi).

I believe Twitter is a great social media for instant exposure and provides great communication between the business and it’s stakeholders. Although there are problems that may occur, enforcing proper use of the site should prevent these problems. Making sure that individuals don’t cause any harm towards the business is something that must be constantly monitored and avoided to provide good marketing.

What is your opinion on the use of Twitter in businesses or sport? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know your opinion!