Rarely do my convictions do an about-face. But looking back at my editor’s note in our December 2009 issue, my current feelings are vastly different from those expressed at the time. I was banging on about my hatred of Twitter and the pointlessness of what I saw as a repository for marketing guff volleyed between PRs (I was writing fresh from a course on social media: the hatred was raw). “Though that wasn’t how it was sold to me, [the course] focused almost entirely on the merits of twittering,” I wrote. “I left quietly incensed… the majority of those singing its praises were salespeople twittering to other salespeople. Don’t worry, we aren’t starting up a Twitter account – unless I receive hundreds of emails pleading me to reconsider.”
Yet here I am, running three separate Twitter accounts, hashtagging, tweeting political sitcom ideas to Armando Iannuncci and being followed (literally) by Max Clifford. What I’ve learned since overcoming my Twitter contempt is that it’s enjoyable knowing what your community is talking about in real-time, but the value proposition is still missing. I’ve only had hard RoI on my output once, when one of my writers tweeted an idea that I got him to write up for us.
These days, I find that it’s the techies wondering where the value is. Martin Courtney, technology editor of Computing magazine, wrote recently that “from what I have seen so far, [Twitter] contains little but inconsequential drivel”. Ouch. One of my FD friends on Twitter thinks it is a “repository for rubbish” but has moved on to the Next Big Platform – Quora. Another can be found playing tweet tennis with Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannantyne. Thirty-seven percent of FDs we surveyed in 2010 said they had a Twitter account; 25 percent used it every day. And now so do I.
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