The Pros and Cons of Twitter

Twitter_logo_blueTwitter’s recent stock action and impressive fourth quarter has made it an attractive topic for discussions around the microblogging site and what its strengths and weaknesses are. As a small business owner (or perhaps a prospective shareholder), there are a few pros and cons to consider when thinking about Twitter as the next up-and-coming social media landscape.

Pros

Speed is everything– If there’s anything the internet era has taught us as a society, it’s that we cannot get our information fast enough. The fact that at one point in the not-so-distant past, sports fans had to wait a whole day to read through scores and statistics is almost inconceivable to the millions of avid fantasy players today. Twitter has become the new go-to for breaking news by major corporations, musicians, and journalists alike. Any medium that can deliver that much information to that many people that quickly is extremely attractive to society as a whole.

Share of voice– As a small business owner or amateur sports fan, you probably can’t get a 30-second spot for a Super Bowl ad or get on ESPN to give your personal opinions on the big game, but you are just as free to tweet as everybody else. While true that ESPN might have 8 million followers to my 800, the fact is that my tweet gets just as much real estate to anyone who follows us both or searches my hashtag. That share of voice really levels the playing field for “the little guy” both in business and in society.

social-media-multi-taskingADD-friendly– As a member of the generation that has to be listening to music and playing a game my phone while holding a conversation and watching a sporting event on TV, I understand that it takes a lot to grab and hold your attention. Things need to move fast and change often. Twitter does both. I’m happy to only follow 1,600 accounts and not 160,000 as many people do, but I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to keep up with that many updates at the same time. Twitter plays right into the hands of everybody that needs a constantly-changing environment to captivate them.

Cons

So. Much. Clutter. – This is the negative side to equal share of voice and catering to one’s ADD: how on earth can someone navigate a home feed of thousands of tweets and how does someone break through? At times it feels like you’re in the upper deck of a crowded stadium shouting at the referee and hoping he hears you.

Consistently Inconsistent– While Twitter has become the favorite way to break news because of its speed and reach, there are still a lot of questions surrounding its credibility. From fake deaths, to attacks on the White House, to reputable reporters citing an unidentified source to break a story, users have proven over and over again that Twitter is extremely susceptible to tampering. Could this one day expand to stock manipulation or insider trading? Tough to say whether or not Twitter will ever be consistently reliable enough to become a sole source of news.

Time Consuming– At the end of the day, using Twitter properly takes a lot of time. Time to mine content, time to interact with users, time to schedule posts. Sure there are shortcuts and helpful hints, but eventually you’ll either be putting in the time or doing it wrong. For most small business owners, the time it takes to build up a decent-size following and maintain a consistent and value-adding conversation with its community online just isn’t worth the amount of brand awareness, goodwill, exposure, or sales that they’re receiving in return. This applies much moreso to small business owners than major corporations like airlines or food companies who are making great use of their presence on Twitter because they already HAVE the brand awareness that allows them to communicate so freely.

What do you think about Twitter’s future? Will it ever be a viable resource for news or for small business owners?

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