Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is Twitter another broadcast channel?

Is it broadcast media or is it social media?

I've been on the channel for over 18 months and I'm not sure ... most people I follow are more about broadcasting their message to others rather than entering into a dialogue. Sure, sometimes people I know and I will exchange banter ... but most of the larger names I follow are moreso pushing out a message to their followers - which strikes me as the '1 to many' push communication many frown upon.

I am not so close minded I don't think Twitter can be both social and broadcast - it's just maybe it's a lot more about broadcast and lot less about social.

Yes, the channel has potential ... but right now it's being hyped well beyond its current worth. And are the Social media flock any more influential than people not using these channels but socially active in a non digital (and less measurable but potentially as effective) sense. Measurability is great but lets not misconstue the ability to measure as 'more effective than channels we can't quantify as immediately'.

And can marketers actually use Twitter? Lets look at that point in the context of Australia. I don't know. It's tempting to want to utilise every single social channel available in a desperate effort to be looked at as progressive, but surely we have to look at resource versus reward.

Side note: I use Twitter but don't really look at it as anything more than a journal for my inane thoughts.


Zac Martin said...

I think it depends how you use it, but I think broadcast can definitely be a part of social media.

As long as it's not mass broadcast. In the case of Twitter, people voluntarily opt in and in a sense pull your tweets (or is RSS a push system too?). But I do agree that people mostly use it as a mass broadcasting tool.

As to how useful it is? Very, in the way you can target influential early adaptors very easily, quickly and cheaply.

TomH said...

The best tweeters use it as both, and do it really well.

I've just started following Darren Rowse (Problogger) and unsurprisingly, found him to be the best exponent of intelligent Twitter use. He uses it often to interact with his readers and seek material for his blog posts. His broadcast-style tweets are always informative; you never feel like he's wasted your time.

Gary V, Tim Ferris and Stephen Fry are also quite good, although they're usually more broadcast-ish, they still make you feel very much part of their world.

I think twitter amplifies the concept of ideas and attention being tradable commodities. It's easily used to interrupt people with useless crap, but easy to ignore people who do so. The most successful users cultivate give/take relationship with their followers.

If used wisely and respectfully, I think it's a pretty powerful tool.

jyesmith said...

I agree with Zac here and think it's totally up to the individual user.

I think the messages are broadcast yes, but I think the social comes down to the drip-drop knowledge you develop about the people you follow and the opportunities/connection you make through them. This is rather than the ongoing dialogue between some other mediums.

I think the people who involve themselves in twitter and create their own valuable network carefully do get some of the evangelised value out of it.

I think clever marketers who's community and or audience already engage in twitter can yes -- as long as their tactful about it. In any case it's more about opening a line of communication rather than a marketing canon.

If your service doesnt fit -- then they should rest assured that it's OK (something people I think miss a lot of the time these days -- that's it ok not to use social media).

Great post, Ben.

Julian Cole said...

I have to agree with Zac and Jye on this one, I think that it is down to exactly who you follow. I know for me that it acts as a really good information source. I do not have an RSS reader, I just go off recommendations from people on Twitter. I make sure that I am following the people that are consistenly throwing up good pieces of advice and links.

Is this broadcast? Yes.

Is it changing the way consumers consume media and gather information? Yes.

Should Marketers care about Twitter? HELL YES

Ben Shepherd said...

"I think twitter amplifies the concept of ideas and attention being tradable commodities"

I reckon this is really well said.

Julian - agree with you too ... I liken Twitter almost in a sense to RSS as it offers a similar sort of service ... but Twitter has a lot more potential than RSS.

Weird thing about twitter is I get very minimal blog traffic from it - which I find weird as the ppl being exposed to my messages have opted in to follow ... so you'd have to think that more than 1% have an interest in it ...

Aaron said...

You must be using Nielsen products to gauge your stats, Ben.

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