Written by Noemi Pollack on May 29, 2009.
The brilliant article entitled, “The Ten Ways Twitter Will Permanently Change American Business” on 24/7 Wall Street this week, in which it examined Twitter’s model and its future impact on business, is essentially a “state of the art” of Twitter today. In reading the article I was struck with awe, but also with a measure of watchfulness at the fast pace with which Twitter has enmeshed itself into every aspect of life in America.
The “awe” comes from the fact that Twitter has rapidly become a place where companies build brands, do research, send information to customers, conduct e-commerce and create communities for their users. Moreover, Twitter had supplanted traditional media as a source of information, news and entertainment. According to author, Douglas A. McIntyre, “some industries, like local retail, could be transformed by Twitter… for it has the potential to drive substantial amounts of business to retailers.”
While Twitter’s potential commercial value as a way to communicate with customers cannot be overstated, there are some brands that will do better than others in their effort to engage the community. Tweeters are opinionated and, as such, will choose which firms they are willing to get messages from directly (such as promotions, sales, new products, etc.) and brands that key into contemporary culture or style, will surely have a larger ‘following” than brands that don’t.
However, it’s not all roses. A certain unease comes from the fact that social media can be used against a company by any disgruntled Tweeter with his/her own agenda, as seen this week by the Starbuck’s multi-million dollar campaign in which the company had put up billboards in six major cities and then encouraged Tweeters to hunt for the posters — and be the first to post a photo of one using Twitter. But, according to Alternet.org, filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who had a critical video in the “can” ready to go about the way Starbucks treats employees, entered the Twitter contest, basically hijacking the contest as a way to get out news about his short video.
Among other worrisome aspects of Twitter, is its potential impact on financial markets. According to the article, Twitter can easily become a platform for discussing stocks, offer opinions and exchange information, whether correct or not. Per the article, “The Twitter audience makes it possible for groups interested in one stock to post opinions on that company, trades, research, rumors, and data directly from the company in real-time.” At some point federal government agencies such as the SEC will surely need to get involved, for per McIntyre, Twitter has the potential to be one of the most disruptive technologies to become part of the financial markets in decades.
Like many social network sites, Twitter is “self governed” by its members. Companies must take that into account as they join the service — and also keep an extra measure of watchfulness…