At first glance, a messaging technology that limits participants to 140 characters would seem to have relatively little utility for business.
But Twitter is finding its way to be useful in corporate settings, as this NewsFactor piece points out. The story describes some ways in which the tool has been used and some of the dangers that it poses.
It's a timely story: Twitter has joined the big leagues of communications platforms during the past few days. It is serving as perhaps the most important link between Iran and the outside world in the aftermath of the nation's contested election. The regime managed to do a far more effective job of closing down more traditional social networking channels and cellular communications.
So if it's good enough for a tense political crisis with extraordinarily worldwide ramifications, it's good enough for day-to-day business. BusinessSolutions offers a nice overview of Twitter for business. Users, the writer says, can rely on the Twitter site for management or utilize tools such as Ubertwitter for BlackBerry, the Twitterfox Firefox extension, Tweetdeck or others.
The story says Twitter is a great source of corporate information and an equally good way to keep customers informed. Writer Mike Monocello makes the interesting point that in today's world, the 140-character limit may be more of an advantage than a liability. The section of the piece ends with some dos and don't for corporate Twittering: Deliver value, don't flood followers, don't make every Tweet a promotion and don't make your account into a "brag board."
Tools are emerging to help people manage Twitter on the level necessary for business. CNET looks at two of these tools: HootSuite and CoTweet. Rafe Needleman first lays out the similarities: Both enable the administrator to manage multiple accounts and posting from one or all. HootSuite, Needleman says, is a "geekier" but more powerful tool that offers deep usage statistics. CoTweet-which is slated to become available soon -- has features absent on HootSuite, such as a workflow system and an "in/out board" that ensures a tweet isn't assigned to somebody who isn't available. Needleman recommends HootSuite for individual power users and CoTweet for those who want to position Twitter as a customer service platform.
Anyone who doesn't think that Twitter is for real, perhaps should listen to Dell. The company says that it has made more than $3 million either directly at @DellOutlet, which sells refurbished gear, or from folks who have moved from there to make purchases on the Dell site. Other Twitter-using corporations include @Zappos, @Woot, @JetBlue and @WholeFoods, the story says.
Perhaps it's the casual flippancy ("The revolution will be tweeted"?)-or the bare bones nature of the company's site. Perhaps it's the 140-character limit. In any case, it has been possible to underestimate the potential of Twitter.