As the Keyboard Clicks...
The Collected Writings of Lori Roets Valone
Why Twitter?

Do you twitter?

Twitter is the new "in" thing to do.  More popular with the 30-something and up crowd, by and large, than with the high school and college set, "twittering" has fast become a phenomenon. While it's use in social dialogue and viral marketing is rather obvious, the ability to send messages from a cell phone as well as a computer to provide instant reports on  current events has raised issues previously unconsidered. 

For example, there are jurors tweeting from the courtroom (@johnathan, #tweetjuror), investors providing stock advice (@stocktwits), and people providing firsthand accounts of disasters such as the landing of USAirways flight 1549 on the Hudson River (@jkrums).  

Are there potential repercussions of such real-time feedback on active situations?  While juror @jonathan's potential troubles appear to be over, the isses the case raised certainly are not. Can a trial outcome by compromised by a juror's use of Twitter?  Can a company's financial situation be affected by tweets from investment professionals or highly active traders whom others look to for trends? Can a rescue operation be hampered by an individuals insistence on sending "tweets" on what is happening?  Can tweeting the best tidbits from a speaker's presentation live from a conference create a breech of confidentially?  

Bottom line, are there situations in which it is acceptable to "twitter" and others it is not?  More and more companies have blocked access to Twitter and other social network sites from corporate systesms, concerned about productivity loss, but also the potential leakage of sensitive information. Certainly an employee could use their own laptop or cell phone to connect, but it relieves the corporate of having been an enabler, should a problem later arise. 

Certainly it can be argued a person's attention is at best divided if they are "twittering" while critical events are unfolding.  Should they be applying 100% of their attention to the situation at hand to protect their life, limb or the personal freedoms of others?  It's obviously a personal decision - but I think it bears some additional forethought. 

So why do you Twitter?  Here's a brief self-assessment -- to make this meaninful, I encourage you to get out a scrap of paper and write your answers down. 

  1. Think back to the day you opened your Twitter account -- what was you reason for creating that account?  If you have multiple Twitter personna, think about each separately.
  2. When you Tweet, what the the content of your typical messages -- by that I mean, are they:
    Purely Social Dashing off to rescue wife and kids, flat battery- AA will get there in 80 minutes! nice afternoon for a  drive out though :)  @iaindodsworth
    Informational Try 10 things, expect 3 total failures, 3 breakevens, 3 moderate successes & 1 massive success...Then run with what works  @jonathanfields
    Self-promotional An amazing program for survivors of TBI (article and video):  @lroets
    Promoting others RT @leeodden: Twitter Co-Founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone Speak (video)  @ducttape
    News Bye-bye pirates. About time. Sounds like SEALs.  @FPV02
    Information seeking What have been your fav examples of PR best practices lately?! Tweet-n-tell :)  @PRsarahevens
    Other Something altogether different - you tell us  
  3. How well does your typical message match the reason you had for creating the account?

Hang on to your answers -- we'll refer back to them soon. Additionally, I invite you to post a comment below and share with your fellow readers why and how you are using Twitter. 

In upcoming issues, we will look at tools to help you gauge your current Twitter usage and tune your usage to better acheive your goals - personal or business. 

Twitter, like any tool, is only effective if you use it properly.  Acheiving the maximum return for your time invested in social media and other technology is the goal of this column.  Twitter is just one form of technology we will investigate.  I invite you will stay tuned and maximize your investment.