It is hard to take Twitter seriously with a name like that . . . but I do, and can think of a number of serious (as opposed to 'fun' or 'social') applications of a micro-blogging platform.
Last year there were some useful posts about various uses for Twitter. A couple of the more complete lists were:
- Web Worker Daily's "Eight Ways Twitter is Useful Professionally"
- DoshDosh's "17 Ways You Can Use Twitter: A Guide for Beginners, Marketers and Business Owners"
But this post was prompted specifically by a John Dickerson article in Slate addressed to journalists called "Don't Fear Twitter". Chief political correspondent for Slate, Dickerson addresses the idea that with the traditional "space" for journalism shrinking (read fewer publications, reduced lineage, serious writing replaced by celebrity gossip and other trashy amusements) no journalist would want to take up a medium restricted to 140 characters.
On the contrary, says Dickerson . . .
"If written the right way, Twitter entries build a community of readers who find their way to longer articles because they are lured by these moment-by-moment observations. As a reader, I've found that I'm exposed to a wider variety of news because I read articles suggested to me by the wide variety of people I follow on Twitter. I'm also exposed to some keen political observers and sharp writers who have never practiced journalism."
So here three personal reasons for tweeting on and off throughout the day, all of which suggest uses for Twitter in a corporate context:
- Similar to Dickerson, I get exposed quickly and without much editorializing to a variety of links -- some worthwhile, others trivial -- from people whose ideas I generally respect and whose knowledge adds to mine. Since I "follow" people who share an interest in social media, politics, public relations, literature and film, the tweets are nearly always 'productive'.
- Similar to reason one, Twitter democratizes the sharing of ideas. There are no inferred hierarchies, only that derived from the value to me of the content posted. The focus is content and point of view, not position or role.
- The possibilities of Twitter as a form of instant, broad communication to different groupings and 'classes' of people are made manifest each time a subject is picked and pursued. Twitter reveals the potential for quick discussion, concept sharing or action by cohorts of people sharing common cause. I can see activists creating dedicated Twitter groups to synchronize action, or companies constructing Twitter crisis management teams for coordinating emergency response.
Yes . . . it is also fun to know that @leahjones in San Francisco is standing at the bus stop smelling cotton candy at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning (a tweet from five minutes ago) . . . someone who I have never met.