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Twitter's all the rage right now. In social media and digital marketing circles, Twitter seems to be taking over the world.
I have a different perspective: it's not. For all of Twitter's growth, I believe it has yet to achieve what it needs to achieve to become a viable marketing platform for businesses.
Since there's far too much mental masturbation about Twitter already taking place, I'm going to make this simple - the problem with Twitter is that the conversation is still about the conversation on Twitter.
99% of the Twitter discussions I'm exposed to are about its (potential) use as a marketing platform. What does that mean? It means, obviously, that marketers and industry folk are talking about Twitter. Users? Not so much.
I have a few friends who use Twitter casually. They don't work in social media and they're not marketers. None of them has ever stopped to tell me about a wonderful interaction with @Starbucks. None of them has ever mentioned how blessed they felt to have @DellOutlet. And none of them has bragged that @mrskutcher responded to a tweet they sent. None, in fact, has ever pressured me to join Twitter beyond an automated invitation.
Contrast that with even Facebook, another service that I believe has been overhyped. Sure there's a lot of talk about it in the context of marketing but the number of 'average' users on the site who are using it to interact with each other far exceeds the number of social media types and marketers on Facebook who are using Facebook to talk about Facebook.
On Twitter, industry folks talk about Twitter. On Facebook, real people actually interact and share. In other words, Facebook is more than an echo chamber for marketers. That's not to say that the online interaction and sharing that takes place on Facebook is as good as the real deal (i.e. life), but it's certainly more meaningful than 140 character tweets extolling the virtues of 140 character tweets.
I'll admit that for some individuals and businesses, Twitter just might be useful. I'm obviously biased but Econsultancy's experiment with live tweets on the homepage demonstrates that Twitter can be used in interesting ways. And for a company like Econsultancy, using Twitter just might make sense. After all, many Twitter users are digital marketers and that's exactly who Econsultancy serves. Going where your audience is always makes sense and judging from the responses received, it looks like Econsultancy was able to attract some attention.
But that doesn't mean that Unilever, Toyota and Wells Fargo need to be on Twitter or treat it as a potentially significant part of their future marketing mixes. Twitter might not be useful to them and it certainly isn't going to be more important than, say, television advertising.
Perhaps a metaphor is in order. People in the construction industry might love to talk about the tools they use but the only thing their clients really care about is whether or not their construction projects are finished on time and on budget.
It's clear that Twitter has become the cool new tool that social media types and digital marketers love to talk about but that doesn't mean that the people they help businesses market to really care how cool Twitter is. What the businesses they serve want to know is how Twitter is going to help them reach their target audiences and there has to be more to Twitter than industry fodder to get big consumer audiences excited.
Right now, given that the loudest conversations on Twitter are still about Twitter, I don't think most businesses have much to gain by investing lots of time on Twitter. Resources are better allocated elsewhere, be it PPC or SEO, affiliate marketing or offline advertising.
Until Twitter truly goes mainstream and the majority of the conversations and popular Twitter 'memes' have less to do with industry chatter and cheerleading and more to do with real life, my opinion is that most people are all atwit over nothing.