November 8th, 2013

Twitter: what’s the value?

After several months of wondering why anyone would care why anyone else was having a latte, I met Phil Whitehouse, now the GM of Ogilvy & Mather in Australia, then a manager in a British Telecom internal start-up (you can guess the end of that story). We spent a day together at the 2008 Wimbledon (sounds posh?!), the year that Nadal defeated Federer in the 5th set in the dark. You can tell whom I rooted for.

After a couple of 10 am Pimms Cups, we talked about how his small team survives the currents of a much larger company. He replied,”we don’t ask for budget beyond our salaries. We use whatever free tools that we can get our hands on. Twitter, for example. It’s a fast, easy to use, no-cost tool. Plus you have to get your message across in 140 characters.”

We don’t’ use the BT CRM system. We’ve agreed that each day, each of the nine of us on the team will try to share one item that we think may be of interest to the other eight on the team. By the end of the week, we’ll have nearly 50 items of, hopefully, useful customer information.”

I’ve been a fan since to an extent that I’ve never rallied in Facebook’s favor. In my own realm, Twitter is, indeed, a valuable learning tool. I know the music, travels, personal interests, professional discoveries and humor of many people with whom I’d be lucky to have a 5 minute conversation at a conference. Twitter is the best source of my own professional development.

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Two aspects of this media make me wonder. How many of a certain age still perceive Twitter as waste of public bandwidth by those who believe or hope that the world cares that they’re having a coffee? And if Twitter cannot make money given its membership and audience and near ever-presence, are we returning to the days of the dot com busts?

As answering machines replaced phone messages, as email replaced answering machines, as texts replaced email – for those of a certain age- I believe that the near instantaneous sharing of examples, photos, videos, links, insights and events will transform broadly how we connect and how we share. Twitter describes more an evolving capability for grand scale collaboration than it does an opportunity to make money an old fashioned or familiar way. It’s another step forward in a new way of sharing. I guess that if you are reading this, you probably know this. Let’s have a coffee sometime.


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