The other day I was having a discussion with a friend about twitter, and how I felt it had really revolutionised social media as a business tool. My friend quickly shot it down and asked me how many advantages the tool could really have compared to the disadvantages of serving information on a platter to all your followers. His argument was that finding information before others, or having access to information that only few other people have gives you a strategic advantage in the business world. However, as twitter makes sharing easy, you are suddenly sharing your precious nugget with thousands if not millions of other people.
Personally, I don’t buy this argument. What is so wrong with sharing? As the social bookmark says “sharing is caring”. What is wrong with sharing an article you have found interesting, or allowing others to share something they liked on your website? On the contrary, it creates a dialogue with people who have like minded interests, and allows for companies to boost their profiles.
My professional experience with twitter has been overwhelmingly positive. I have discovered a huge amount of people who all share the same interests as me, which means I can discover experts, top bloggers, people who work in a place I would like to, and get to know more about them, interact, and perhaps even meet. Eventually, this could lead to some very interesting professional relationships.
I have also discovered that all the organisations, NGOs and companies I am interested in are on twitter, have a profile, and sometimes even have a job listings profile. What more could the job seeker as for? Furthermore, all the newspapers I read, magazines I like, and even celebrities I want to follow (if that’s the kind of thing you’re after) are tweeting away like their lives depend on it. I’ve just found my number one source of information. As this post by mashable shows, news stories will sometimes come directly from twitter where the information is published first, which goes to show the power of the tool.
Finally, as a professional trying to increase the profile of a charity, I have found twitter invaluable. It has enabled us to find hundreds of people all interested in the areas in which we work: water and wine. It has allowed us to reach out to them, raise awareness for our cause, get them to show some interest in us. It has also allowed for us to create many successful partnerships, all of which have greatly helped advance the organisation. If it hadn’t been for twitter, the process would probably have taken us at least twice as long if not more.
Frankly, I struggle to find any disadvantages with the tool. Sure, employers can find you and people can use the information you share to find out more about you, but it all comes down to careful managing of your online presence, which requires a whole other post to itself. Do you find twitter has disadvantages? Are there more than there are advantages? Please share you experiences!