Interesting how it takes polarizing viewpoints to sometimes find the more nuanced center. Richmond BizSense’s Aaron Kremer, with the unsurprisingly shocking title, “Why I still hate Twitter” recounts how he went from being booed about his stance to proving himself right. (Meaning: he went from “hate” to “still hate.”)
Full disclosure: I use Twitter. I am not always a very frequent user and I tend to go in spurts based on subject, speaking with audiophiles during Bonnaroo season, consumer electronics around CES, social media news and my adventures in fatherhood pretty constantly. Also, I sometimes advocate the use of Twitter by businesses when it is appropriate. There are lots of reasons to dive in if your targets are there, and especially if their influencers are (the latter being the most important when you consider Twitter’s recent effect on SEO and that many Twitterers send their posts to Facebook as status updates, further making a Tweet sail to readers). Similarly there are many reasons you might not want to engage in Twitter, from a lack of targets to time to engage and more.
I applaud Kremer’s tackling of the subject and his courage to dive in despite his publicly unpopular preconceptions. What I find strange is the way he set up his test case. He followed only 50 people.
After stopping at 50 people he concludes:
My study is complete, and it’s just as I thought: a waste of time and completely useless for business unless you want to reach lots of marketing people.
Now, if you just look at the top 50 Twitterers in Richmond according to Twitter Grader, you’ll see that it is filled with marketers. That’s a complaint I have of Twitter in our town as well, but it’s the price you pay for being a major southeastern city with one of the nation’s top advertising agencies – the marketing culture will be early and voracious adopters.
But that top 50 list is also filled with Kremer’s media competition, local businesses and more. Lists curated by other Richmond media sources peg hundreds of frequent local Twitterers, the majority of which aren’t marketers from what I can tell. A new local business, presumably the target of BizSense, seems to join Twitter every week. Here’s two different lists by RichmondGL that contain nearly 900 Richmond Twitterers.
So it’s a statistical marvel that in three months he, “did not find one helpful piece of information that I could use for a news story or even something that made me smile.” I’m not sure what three months he was on, whether he saw the way Richmond took to Twitter during the Ukrops sale, Flying Squirrels, or if he ever noticed that every morning Twitter spreads links of his news stories. Maybe it takes a lot to make him smile.
His comments on the experience, or more pointedly his comments on his opinion (he doesn’t actually detail his experience past a few sentences) belie a focus only on his strange sample of the Richmond scene. He claims it’s for “teens” and yet Richmond teens are minority of our local Twitter culture – I would venture to guess that the local pet culture online is even a stronger presence.
The good news is, Twitter is just a potential channel, just like BizSense and email publications are. Many local entities have found regional, state and national benefit using current internet culture as a driver for sales. I think I just expected a more thorough (and less inflammatory) “study” by BizSense considering they are a publication based in that other medium used by teens, “email.”
UPDATE: I think everyone should see for themselves what his “study” looked like here. Certainly there wasn’t any Tweeting for three months straight (not even consecutive months) and his last Tweet was in October of last year. Only twenty-nine Tweets total, most in June and July, one in August and then the four in October. No conversations with other people. More to his blog post’s point, here’s his list of 49 he followed.
I posted a comment that hasn’t been approved (or was deleted) in reference to all of the comments on the original story:
I’m not sure which is more hilarious, that we’re debating the usefulness of a tactical medium, or that we’re doing it on something tagged, “blog” on the website of an email newsletter of news story links, where all of the respondents have written short-form responses while standing agape and pointing at this horrible Twitter concept full of short form responses that frequently link to blogs, news stories and newsletters.
If the signal of a medium is to be judged against the noise, I’m pretty sure BizSense doesn’t want to have that fight inside the realm of email.
Pot, Tweet Kettle.
P.S. I guess this is why BizSense didn’t pay any mind to my want to get Richmond’s business adoption of social media as a story worthy of year-end focus. :)