Is Twitter Really Not Right For Business?

Earlier this week, The Times ran a story titled “Twitter may not be right for business“.

Despite the title, the article seems to be more about the shortcomings of companies, and why that makes them unsuitable as users of microblogging. To quote the article “Nevertheless, I think there are several fundamental reasons why companies are unsuited to microblogging,…”.

The article goes on to list 5 reasons why companies are not suitable;

  1. Companies are incapable of dealing with things in real time
  2. Companies are incapable of brevity
  3. Companies are not open
  4. Companies are neither altruistic or reciprocal
  5. Companies do not have distinct voices or personalities

I don’t think I’m alone in being relieved I don’t work in a company that behaves as described in the article. One which is probably not fit to deal with its customers, is certainly not fit to manage and develop its employees and is unlikely to have a very bright (or long) future.

The biggest problem with the article, is of course that all five of the statements are wrong. Many companies are very good at dealing with things in real time, and can be both brief and open. Altruism and reciprocity are not unknown qualities in the world of business. Virgin, Disney and Nike are just a few examples of companies with a distinct voice and personality.

If you actually read the story, you’ll find the tone is clearly tongue in cheek, but that won’t stop some people attempting to use this as evidence that Twitter has no place in business.

Twitter and RSS

twitter and rss logos

Twitter has had a great deal of media coverage this month, from worldwide news stories like the Hudson River crash and Obama’s inauguration through to its discussion by Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross (@stephenfry and @wossy respectively) on the latter’s Friday night talk show.

I wanted to share a handy way of using RSS feeds to keep on top of specific Twitter topics of interest.

For example, during the build up to this week’s Learning Technologies conference, there’s been a lot of related activity on Twitter, and to make it easier to find those Tweets, they’ve been tagged as #LT09UK. There are various ways that you can find all Tweets with that tag, such as using the #Hashtags search,  but one of the simplest is to head over to http://search.twitter.com and use the familiar search interface.

That’s okay if you just want to do the search once, but what if you want regular updates? Well, you could simply come back and run the search again, or bookmark the url to make it a one click process. Or you could save time, and use RSS.

Once you’ve run your Twitter search, click on the RSS icon on the left of the page, and add the feed to your reader.

twitter search and rss feed

Now each time you check your feed reader, any new items matching the search criteria will be displayed. You can set up as many searches as you like and subscribe to them all.