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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.