65 thoughts on “Twitter

  1. Agree re; Twitter. Its the CB Radio of our times. A tidal wave of crap. Last night some “friend” twittered that they had “forgot to put my veggies on and now my main will be ready 10 minutes early”…..!!! The triumph of the inane and the irrelevant

  2. Bit harsh, George. Most verbal conversations consist of trivia and drivel, too. (Personally, I’d be mute without them.) But you wouldn’t disparage speech because of that, would you? No, you’d just avoid talking to anyone who subscribed to Heat magazine. Similarly, stop following the veg friend. And follow people like @mikecoulter instead.

  3. Chris – fair point. yes I guess like any newish media channel it takes a while for things to shake out. In time the quality content bubbles up. I think at the moment there is an assumption that because it’s twitter it must therefore be good and worth something. I don’t like the way Facebook Twitterfied itself though

  4. Mark your lack of conviction in Twitter is an interesting one; I used to be of the same opinion. We’ve recently been commissioned by 2 organisations to aggregate Twitter messages into a feed that they can react to, delivering great customer service with potential for sales. In other words using it reactively rather than proactively – reacting to leads that come to them. It’s early days but it’s looking good so far.

    • Colin – interesting. a pracitcal (and potentially) valuable use of the media. I think my scepticism comes from the blanket assumption that because it’s new and exciting it must all be therefore a good thing (which is plainly not the case)


      George Shepherd

  5. I agree that it does have lead generation potential for business. Indeed I’ve been involved in some of that myself. But I’m with George about its conversational value.

  6. I notice that most people who criticise twitter, don’t actually use it very much.

    “I don’t like Guinness. Because I’ve never tried it.”

    Twitter is, actually one of the most powerful search engines we’ve ever seen, real-time, discovery of stuff in peoples brains rather than google’s servers. (And the real-time, live web is where pretty much everything is going.

    Dell made 1.5 million in sales on twitter last year just by occasional offers on twitter.

    Twitter is replacing the call-centre as a way brands offer customer support.

    Zappos in the US will sell 1 billion dollars worth of shoes online this year. 400 of their staff are on Twitter. They say ‘Customer Service is the new Marketing”

    ‘Saved Search’ on twitter is a game-changer for brands.

    For doing research twitter is awesome, you can search trends by sentiment, geography, friends, competitors, a whole host of ways to discover marketing gold.

    Retweets can drive massive traffic to we sites.

    The serendipitous nature of twitter delivers unexpected wonders of info.

    True Twitter is used badly, like any bit of kit in the wrong hands, by many people.

    And does offer some inane, ego-fueled pap.

    But then so do many blogs, tv shows, newspapers and dare I say it advertising professionals.

    Most people who use twitter send/ and have to read 50-75% less emails.

    Most of the latest, info out of Tehran is via Twitter.

    Power twitter users can propel brands to greatness, or dictate that sales falloff a cliff. (e.g. Stephen Fry’s withering critical tweets of the Blackberry recently sent sales into free-fall.)

    G20 was reported live on Twitter by citizen journos using apps like audioBoo and gps positioning.

    Twitter beats ever other news service in existence for delivering breaking stories, as every newspaper has noticed and adopted.

    Politicians are finding one of the best ways to interact with constituents and the media.

    Google loves twitter an invariably gives the user Page One ranking, (did someone say seo anybody.)

    ceos to busy to blog, find 140 characters the perfect way to keep everyone on the same page.

    So please look beyond the “Just had a lovely cup of tea” stuff.

    Sit up and take notice.

    The rest of the world has.

  7. I hear what you say about its business potential Mike,.. The trouble is all that pap turns most of us off and its social marketing weaknesses may turn the tide against it so that the business potential is lost.

    Anyway, I just think it’s boring.

  8. So people are saying that they’re unconvinced how useful a chat system for short messages and discussions is – by leaving short messages in the discussion on this chat system?


  9. Good point Dave.

    Though I think I should gloss over the fact that a micro-messaging evangelist like myself had to use about a thousand words to try and get his point across.

    Mike Coulter = FAIL!

  10. Mike you took the words out of my mouth.

    Dave an ironic point but not any more convincing than Mike’s evangelical ranting which smacks of indoctrination. Who by? I don’t know. But I seem to recall Mike saying this about Facebook a couple of years ago followed swiftly by a sustained period of major dissing.

    My friend Dom Raban refers to Gartner’s Hype Cycle when it comes to social marketing uptake (actually any trend to be honest).

    A hype cycle is a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and business application of specific technologies. The term was coined by Gartner, an analyst/research house, based in the United States, that provides opinions, advice and data on the global information technology industry.

    A hype cycle in Gartner’s interpretation comprises 5 phases:

    1. “Technology Trigger” — The first phase of a hype cycle is the “technology trigger” or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.
    2. “Peak of Inflated Expectations” — In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures. THIS IS WHERE I THINK TWITTER IS AT JUST NOW.

    3. “Trough of Disillusionment” — Technologies enter the “trough of disillusionment” because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.THIS IS ON THE WAY.

    4. “Slope of Enlightenment” — Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the “slope of enlightenment” and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology. FACEBOOK IS ENTERING THIS PHASE AS IT FINDS NEWER MORE MATURE AUDIENCES AND THE HYPE HAS PASSED AWAY A BIT.

    5. “Plateau of Productivity” — A technology reaches the “plateau of productivity” as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.

    Now, you couldn’t have crammed all that into Twitter unless you used a tiny url to this post.

    The term is now used more broadly in the marketing of new technologies.

  11. You’re right, I couldn’t have fitted all that into a tweet. I’d have used a blog page. Or an email. Or maybe I’d video it and upload it to YouTube.

    No technology meets every need. In fact the most successful technologies invariably meet only a very few but do it well.

    Twitter meets a simple need: the need to chat quickly. Its brand promise is simple and light, so it rarely fails to keep it. Yes, twitter will eventually fail, as will every technology.

    BTW I’m sure Mark’s good manners will forbid him pointing out that saying he’s “indoctrinated” in a post consisting of you parrotting someone else’s ideas about technology is a bit rich… but I can’t resist, sorry.


  12. Gosh. You do take this seriously Dave don’t you.

    I wouldn’t have said I was parroting Dom. He only introduced me to a fairly well established concept.

    I happen to like the concept and thought I’d apply the model (not Dom’s words) to Flicker and Facebook.

    Well, this has passed the time hasn’t it.

    And I still think Twitter is dull and somewhat vaccuous. IN THE MAIN.

    You know what though? I might change my mind one day.

    Mike might convince me.

  13. Seriously? Don\’t flatter yourself!


    Oddly, I actually agree with you: Twitter is vacuous. But I think it\’s supposed to be vacuous, isn\’t it? It\’s not meant to be meaningful or serious. In the field of communication technologies, it fills the simplest of needs; the off-the-cuff comment, the one-liner, the throwaway remark, the little footnotes which glue together the spaces between our weightier communications.

    That\’s something we all do, something we all value. Twitter will eventually decline, but not because our need to tweet ever will.

  14. Well why are you hanging off the rooftops with indignation improving my blog optimisation and Technorati credibility by the second if you agree (sort of) with me?

    I\’m flattered:-)

  15. No indignation here, Mark. I was asked by a friend to look at the discussion and thought you might be interested to hear a different view. Read my posts with a smile in mind!


  16. Mark

    Your reluctance to embrace Twitter and your eagerness to criticise are all too common in people who don\’t quite get social media.

    In cases like this, I often find a patronising attitude works best.

    Looking at your Twitter account you follow too few people, and by extension have too few followers yourself.

    This is not good.

    Although you do follow some legendarily brilliant tweeters, (modesty forbids me to name them), you do also follow one or two not so hot exponents. Of the \”nice cup of tea\”, \”I\’m sooo tired today, my feet hurt\”, & the \”me, me, me,me, me\” persuasion.

    This I\’m sure informs your cliched and jaundiced view of Twitter.

    Here\’s 10 ways that Twitter is useful, that gives lie the your ill-informed examples and observations you give:

    1. Twitter is actually an awesome search engine.

    If you have a question, you\’ll get the answer from your followers in no time. You\’re searching their brains, not Google\’s servers. So you often get answers to questions you didn\’t even ask, because the your followers often know you and offer additional, appropriate information based on their knowledge of you. You then become part of a market of real time information, returning the favour with answers to others questions, no just a quid-pro-quo but also enhancing your reputation/expertise within your community. But of course, I\’m sure you\’re fully conversant with this already?

    2. Twitter is an important iteration to the notion of the \’Live\’ web, or \’Real-Time\’ web. Which is why they have been quickly emulated by FaceBook and Friendfeed in terms of real-time status updates. And I\’m sure this has influenced Google\’s amazing Wave technology, which I\’m sure you\’re fully conversant with. (Or do you think that\’s going to be a crock too.?)

    3.\’Saved Search\’ on Twitter is awesome. You can set up a \’listening post\’ for keywords such as \’Scottish Media Group\”, whitespace, \”Mark Gorman\”, \”Corporation Pop\” whatever and real-time results about any mention on twitter, by whom, where they are geographically, even the \’sentiment\’- are they saying nice things/bad things about the brands you represent. The equivalent of having an army of highly alert always on researchers. No doubt you\’re fully conversant with this too?

    4. Twitter is a terrific customer relationship tool. Hundreds if not thousands of brand community managers are using it to engage with consumers. Often answering questions and solving customer problems posted on twitter, (but not even directly addressed to the brand. But the Community Manager has picked up any negative/positive brand references via saved search and responded accordingly. This saves brands a fortune in call centre costs for a proportion of their CRM. (Did you know this before you dissed twitter??)

    5. It\’s one of the quickest most direct ways to get to (and build a relationship with), the thousands of journalists and publications online. BrandRepublic, MarketingWeek, Campaign, Creative Review, D&AD in our game. What\’s more, little old me for example, can now persoanlly get directly to Trotty, Alex Bogusky, Jon Snow, Martha Lane Fox, and any number of players and key journo\’s in our or any particularly industry. I can\’t think of any other.quicker, more effective direct comms channel, where I can get through a celebs/industry big-wig\’s personal firewall.

    6.It\’s a low cost way for cash-strapped sme\’s to build brand awareness. (Locally see http://twitter.com/showerguys, http://twitter.com/holeinhiseye,) Indeed this fairly recent report showed
    how sme\’s where embracing Twitter to build their brands, engage with customers and save on marketing costs: http://econsultancy.com/blog/3502-sme-s-increasingly-using-twitter-to-communicate

    7. I\’s often the quickest way to get breaking news. AYou\’re probably unaware of this, but there\’s a bit of a stromash in Iran right now, Twitter is one of the man channels of news coming out. The Hudson plane crash. Fire Depts in the US use it to get first hand accounts and feedback from disasters and emergencies. etc, etc, etc. Conferences, concerts, exhibitions are all designating \’hashtags\’ (look it upon Google) to aggregate and distribute to thousands the real time buzz around events.

    8. Politicians are using from everything to keep constituents informed to resigning. As Tom Watson did telling his 4,000+ followers on Twitter first: http://twitter.com/tom_watson/status/2042705598

    9. Twitter can be outstanding for driving traffic to a blog post, a flickr set, a web page, anything. But only if a) you have a decent following, b) particularly if the link is reTweeted, (and great tool/killer app on twitter in itself), by somebody with a hefty following, aka second-degree of \’tw\’influence;-

    10. If you have your real name as your username, and tweet pretty regularly, Google seems to love you. Often giving a Page one search return for your name. This is a very useful bit of personal branding seo.

    But of course, I\’m sure you\’re fully conversant with all these already?

    So that\’s it.

    Actually, referring back to how many people follow you and how small the number you follow on Twitter tells me pretty much everything I need to know about why you don\’t get Twitter. (No, I\’m not getting into a \’Mines bigger than yours\’ debate, just being factual. And while you\’re on Google/Wikipedia you might want to check out the \’Dunbar Number\’instead of regurgitating all that \’Gartner Hype-Cycle\’ bollocks.)

    Confused and frustrated you go onto the attack.

    And shoot yourself in the foot.

    It took me ages to write this up.

    And perhaps you\’ve learned nothing new.

    But I discovered most of what I post here from using actually twitter, and from the wonderful people on there who shared their knowledge and links generously.

    You haven\’t really given Twitter your best shot, and I find it interesting that you have almost 500 connections on Linkein, which you obviously \’get\’, yet haven\’t put the same effort to community/network building on Twitter.

    Return On Time, Mark.

    Return On Time.

    • Ooooh Mike.

      My spam filter didn’t like all your links so this post is out of sequence.

      I’m amused at your observation that I ‘don’t quite get’ social media.

      I have, after all, been writing four blogs over the last three years. Your five posts on this particular strand, of this particular blog, seem to suggest that I must have at least a basic grasp of social media.

      I have a number of contacts on Linked in as you rightly point out and I am an in/out enthusiastic contributor on Facebook.

      I have a Plaxo account (rubbish but good for birthdays) and a low use Twitter account which is the nub of this debate.

      My criticism of Twitter isn’t really a criticism it’s an observation that I don’t really find it very engaging or useful.

      I bow, however, to your monumentally greater wisdom Michael my dear friend. I can only aspire to be the John Hughes to your Ronaldo in this field.

      To use an overused analogy; if you don’t like Marmite. You don’t like Marmite.

      I shall, of course, persevere with the Twiglets route to the Marmite market – nibbling away in small doses until the taste acquires or not.

      On reflection perhaps Twiglets is the Marmite of the social media world.

  17. Oh gosh!

    What have I been saying?

    Mark, I think you’ve totally misunderstood my position.

    I never liked Twitter.

    It’s rubbish.

    It’s all ego-driven cups of tea, looking forward to Big Brother tonight and anybody going to the pub?

    You’re right of course, Twitter is Tosh.

    I completely see what you’re saying now.

    It’s as if I WAS indoctrinated by a strange sect.

    I jumped on a self-serving bandwagon and have been well and truly outted.


    Twitter is of course, useless.

    In fact, Gartners BRILLIANT ‘Hype-Cycle’ is the only thing to present to clients from now on.

    (Now then, how on earth do I delete all those old powerpoint stacks and copy and paste the Hype-Cycle in.)

    I bet clients just love those Gartner slides. Stroking their chins sagely. Nodding knowingly.

    Shrewdly thinking: “This guy knows his shit.”

    Or possibly just: “This guy knows shit.”

    ps. I just read this article in emarketer, you’ve probably seen it.


    pps. I found out about the article via, er, Twitter.

    Sorry about that, won’t happen again.

  18. I hear a lot of “facebook failed, myspace failed, livejournal failed” chatter when people who don’t understand what twitter is discuss it.

    “Twitter” isn’t a site, it’s a service. Virtually nobody I know actually accesses twitter directly through their site – they use clients, just like email.

    Unlike, say, facebook, twitter has done very little to change its core offering since launch. Where MySpace and facebook failed was in trying to follow the crowd, to stay fashionable. The problems with that strategy are many, as we all know.

    Twitter, on the other hand, chose three basic features, and has stuck to them like glue (c.f. http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2009/02/09/a_twitter_decision.html). That has enabled its users to rely on its consistency (if not its availability!). Users know what they’re getting from twitter, and even when the site changes how things work, the twitter clients (tweetie, twitterific etc) don’t change. In the same way that Outlook doesn’t suddenly change when gmail adds a new feature.

    Twitter is simply another way to send messages out. Someone mentioned CB radio. Imagine CB radio where a critical mass of users were on it, and you could filter out all the crap just to hear what people were saying about *you*. Or your *brand*. You’re still not interested?

    Okay, how about if you could filter out only to hear what people were saying about *pubs in edinburgh* when you had a thirst? Or could broadcast where you were and have people pop by?

    These are real world uses. Trying to define what “twitter” is is like trying to define what “email” is. How many different ways have you used email in the last week? Marketing? Sales? Support? Conversation? Crap from your relatives? Tech updates from servers with problems? Announcements from management?

    Yes, the other media still has a place, but dismissing “twitter” in the way that you have (“it’s just another flash in the pan”) shows that you don’t understand why it’s different. It’s different in the same way that RSS is different from those little channels that Windows 98 used to install on your desktop. One is a technology that anyone can piggyback off and use in innovative ways, the other is a product that someone’s trying to sell.

    If you can’t tell the difference these days, you’re in trouble.

  19. Mark

    On Saturday morning I used Twitter to absolutely smash the record for daily visits to the Blonde blog. By “smash” I mean by a factor of 6. (Speaking your language, huh?)

    It was a combination of luck and good judgement on my part but I’ve always said that a big part of using social media to commercial ends is about increasing your chances of getting lucky.



  20. Facebook up 253% YOY. Cos it adapted. I found that out through twitter. Oh shit done it again!

    Actually I read Mike’s link above.


    In WordPress.

    About Twitter.

    That showed how succesful Facebook is (up 253%YOY in USA with 113 million users against twitter’s 19million albeit up an impressive 1043%.)

    Now, what trumps what. Facebook trumps Twitter?

    WordPress trumps Facebook?

    Does anyone care?

  21. I’m intrigued by the comparison to marmite. If you were sampling it, would you dip a finger in, or perhaps try it on toast? It’s all about context.

    You’re only going to find it useful or interesting if you actually make the effort to dig out some folk to follow that are actually interesting, and contribute to the discussion with some updates of your own.

  22. Let’s move this discussion on to twitter where everyone can see it, not just the people visiting your blog.


  23. Mike’s just piled on. I suspect this is a ruse to get my hits up and prove that Twitter has clout. Like Phil was claiming earlier.

    I wonder if I’ll have a six times increase on my best ever day. Only time will tell. We are at a twelfth so far.

  24. Mark,

    Re your traffic, (twaffic?) and blog stats.

    Primary focus here should be authentic debate about Twitter.

    Not about resorting to black seo ops and gaming traffic.

    But then “I’m sure you’re fully conversant with this already”, and wouldn’t do that.



  25. Mike

    I think we are having an authentic debate about twitter. Don’t you?

    On a far more interesting platform

    I am fully conversant with your thinly veiled sideswipe at my credibility.

    • On a far more interesting platform

      Ah, so this is actually a “my choice is better than your choice” discussion? Your stance makes more sense now.

      It’s okay. Change is good, it is to be encouraged. Nobody’s suggesting you give up your time-invested platform and suddenly say everything in 140 characters.

      The thing to be able to do in this economy is to spot the difference between the pan flashes (facebook) and the platform shifts (blogging, twitter, wave. Yes, wave) that underpin them.

      The reason twitter is exciting isn’t because it’s better, it’s because its mutable. You can blog on WordPress. And you can blog on it. And you can blog on it.

      With twitter, you can do anything that requires fewer than 140 characters to achieve. Pivotal Tracker, for example, uses Twitter to push project updates and queries out to teams of developers so that everyone knows what’s happened. Yes, they could use RSS, but Twitter provides a much simpler “closing” mechanism for privacy, and RSS doesn’t push this stuff out to your phone.

      You’re fighting the wrong fight, I think. Twitter isn’t a competitive medium, it’s an enabling one.

  26. Phil

    I knew you’d say that. I was gonna say 6. But thought you’d double guess me and say 12 so I changed it to make you feel better and so that it couldn’t be construed as an insult.

  27. Mark

    You comments/replies here are getting increasingly bizarre/lazy. (Perfect credentials for your kind of twittering of course.)

    Can I recommend that you write yourself a place in history, as the first blog owner to actually block himself from commenting anymore on this increasingly interesting thread.

    Or say something sensible to shore up your rapidly crumbling position re Twitter.

  28. Pingback: Twitter ye Not? « Think Hard

  29. Mark: I don’t really get twitter.

    All: Have you given it your best shot? Followed and updated enough to generate some meaningful output or benefit?

    Mark: No.

    (He’ll get there…)

    • Client: I don’t really understand social media.

      Mark: Excellent:

      Client: Maybe you could give me some advice.

      Mark: Oh yes, I’d be delighted. I’m in touch with absolutely everything that’s going on in this feild. In fact ahead of it.

      Client : Fantastic, please elucidate.

      Mark: Sure Call Mike Coulter at Digital agency he’s a great friend of mine.

  30. Lest anybody gets the wrong end of the Twit stick on this thread, perhaps a bit of clarification is in order.

    Mark and I are friends who occasionally disagree vehemently about some aspects of social media, advertising and a great many other things. (I think I (often wrongly) disagreed with every single brief he wrote when we worked together at The Leith and 1576.)

    However what we do, and have always agreed on is that our businesses aren’t just jobs; they’re vocations.

    We believe passionately in what we do, and believe passionately enough to disagree about things.

    In as an engagingly robust, rude, humiliating and cruel fashion that only true friends can.


    New balls please.

  31. Lest anyone else is confused by Mike’s sudden Volte Face (methinks he had a wee pang on consciensce when it dawned on him he might be going a bit OTT, especially when he said my replies were becoming bizarre AND lazy. He is a bit of a curmudgeon, obstinate, rude, indifferent to my opinions, crass, nasty, cruel, tittish, absurd and volatile.

    That’s why I love him so.

    Perhaps we could cut and paste each of the above into our Linkedin recommendations.

    Actually we already have.

    Queen to knight Three. Check!

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