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Twitter, the microblogging service that has captured the hearts and minds of some of the internet's most prominent bloggers and the media, doesn't get much love in Europe.

This according to a Forbes article entitled "Twitter Not Loved In Europe" which was published yesterday.

In her article, Forbes' Melissa Bounoua writes:

"Most European companies think Twitter is a time waster, and many haven't even heard of the service. British Telecom says it doesn't have a Twitter account and doesn't plan to open one. A spokeswoman for energy firm Total says that Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie has no idea what Twitter is. Nestle's communications manager says using Twitter "just never came up within the group strategy." In general, experts say Europeans don't latch on to new social networking technologies as quickly as Americans."Inferring that most European companies believe Twitter to be a time waster and haven't heard of it based on conversations with a handful of companies is quite presumptive. As is the comment about Europeans not latching on to new social networking technologies as quickly as Americans. Perhaps Bounoua is unaware of LunarStorm, for instance; a Swedish social network with millions of users which launched in 2000 and had achieved massive market share amongst Swedish teens and young adults before MySpace and Facebook had even been envisioned.

Even Loic Le Meur, a well-known French entrepreneur, bought into the nonsense and wrote:

I don't think most European companies dislike Twitter that much, they just do not get the realtime web yet, give them some time.While I'm not European, I have dealt with European companies quite a bit over the years and "they don't get it" is not one of the comments that springs to mind.

Discussing the corporate use of services like Twitter on a geographic basis is of little value. Companies like British Telecom, Total and Nestle may be based in Europe but they operate globally, as do companies that use Twitter, such as Starbucks.

Bounoua's article misses the real debate: is Twitter valuable to corporations?

In my opinion, companies looking at services like Twitter all need to ask themselves the same question: is this valuable to us and our stakeholders?

Twitter and similar social media services are tools. They can and should be used if there's a reason to. If there isn't a reason to (other than to be able to say "We're on Twitter!") they shouldn't. It's that simple.

Geography is often irrelevant in today's online world and while culture can play a role in decisions to use new technologies, those decisions are usually based on needs, value and ROI in most developed nations.

If some European companies believe that Twitter is a waste of time, then it probably is - for their purposes. If they can't come up with a business case for using Twitter to benefit stakeholders internally, why should they listen to Twitter promoters who tell everybody that Twitter is great?

There are plenty of companies in the United States that are not using Twitter too and nobody is implying that those companies are behind the curve.

As such, Bounoua should have entitled her article "Twitter Not Loved By Everyone" which, incidentally, would be true of just about every online service in existence.

Be sure to read our past posts on Twitter when evaluating whether Twitter can be a valuable online tool for your business.

Patricio Robles

Published 20 January, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2406 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Looks like Forbes doesn't like Twitter: http://bit.ly/4ehFH8

over 7 years ago

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Will - Arena Flowers

Agree with your analysis. The article is talking rubbish.  There are loads of UK and European businesses twittering for a variety of reasons.  I put the link to a post we did on the topic of why we twitter as the URL on my name, if interested.  Key point innovation about twitter imo is that it's not only real time, but also laid back.  IE it's not shoving products down your throat like most other marketing messages.  Means there's a lot of random junk and noise...but there are also some gems.  And Europeans, like Americans, have been pretty quick to recognise that...

over 7 years ago

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Alex Har

Most business even those in the USA have not developed strategies for incorporating twiteer into their communication and contact mix. ... ie establish impact benchmarks, how to measure its contribution...do cost/benefit analysis vis a vis total campaign spend and effort.

Whilst the deployment social media including twitter may seem less costly from  the direct media spend perspective...in may require much more time and effort by the employees. If I were a marketing employee  I would probably dislike these in my job...even though I may love to twitter, or facebook at home on my own.

The other put off, is that one has to develop a following ...which takes time. While it is easier to develop a following while it is new... there also too many those who follow for following sake...or hoping that they will get reciprocity.

Business that want to see quick direct correlations between effort and results will find Twitter dissappointing.

My take on observing the how people has worked these succesfully is it requires  the adoption of a new attitude of abandoning linear thinking....direct effort and result relationships.

How do we factor effort and resources into such activities in a big corporation is of course a challenge.

over 7 years ago

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Guy Stephens

It's an interesting one. Whilst I do agree that twitter is not for every company, I also think that it is very easy for companies to use the 'value' or 'ROI' argument against even dipping their toes in the water and actually trying to find the evidence of whether twitter has a relevance for them or not. Twitter, like many 'social apps' is evolving all the time, and we evolve with it. It is moving in different directions and cajoling, provoking and challenging established ways of thinking; something that any disruptive agent does. I use twitter in the workplace. The more I use it within a business context, the more I understand about its relevance (or not) to what I do, how it might help to engage with customers (or not), how it might change the way in which we engage with customers and they with us (or not). Am I nervous about using it? Yes. Am I excited about using it? Yes. Does it challenge the way I think about how we might provide help and support to customers? Yes. But, at the end of the day, I am more nervous about not trying it out.

over 7 years ago

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Alan Charlesworth

Excellent article and some very good responses - including the emphasis on the commitment of resources necessary to do social media properly, and that it is not for everyone.

Ultimately - as with all marketing - the customer calls the tune.

If your market expects you to be on Twitter [et al] than you should be there. If they do not have the time to trawl the social media - or even the web - you should concentrate on the more 'traditional' methods of marketing.

The Internet  has  brought  much to the marketer, but  it is not a panacea for poor communications and it has not  replaced everything that has been working for the centuries before it came along.

over 7 years ago

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