Twitter: The Not So Angry Bird

I’ve been speaking with a lot of people lately about the role of the social media exec in today’s business world and, of course, the conversation invariably includes Twitter. Even now, almost five years after its launch, many people have misconceptions or negative opinions about Twitter largely based upon a lack of knowledge.

And so when I saw this post on Mediabistro‘s All Twitter blog titled, 3 Things Most People Don’t Understand About Twitter, I thought I’d add a few comments on them as well.

Myth #1: Twitter is a social network: It is not. It is a part of social media, but it is not a social network — it is an information network, backed up by public comments from co-founder Biz Stone. Earlier this month, Twitter finally released its mission statement that stresses that assessment and here’s proof: We all know that Google is the king of the search world, but did you know that the #2 position is held by Twitter? That’s right, more searches are performed on Twitter each month than on Yahoo! and bing, combined.

Myth: It’s just good for one thing: On the contrary, it’s good for many things. Your Twitter is not the same as my Twitter. In fact, my Twitter changes from moment to moment. Sometimes I use it as a communications tool; sometimes a news source; and at others a marketing tool. That’s my Twitter. As we say online, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Myth: Twitter kills productivity: Is Twitter a time suck? Well, what isn’t? Anything you do takes your time and, as mentioned above, Twitter time can be just as valuable (or not) as any other research or communications activity. The important factor is that it is a customizable experience to be used as little or as much as makes sense. As for banning it, or other social media, from the workplace I’d counsel to tread lightly. Unless you also ban all smartphones from the premises your employees will still spend time on those sites. It is better to make a reasonable social media policy where personal use of social media is akin to personal use of company phones and have supervisors continue to judge their direct reports as they always have: do they get the job done well, on time and with positive influence on their peers.

Connect with me on Twitter @roncasalotti.

About Ron Casalotti
I am part of that lucky generation that started out when watching TV meant choosing from three networks, three independents and PBS. Now, I work in new media for businesses and organizations - but these thoughts are my own.

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