Twitter for Enterprise Debate: Would You Use It For Your Own Business?

We were in the middle of our weekly meeting, conducting the customary brainstorming exercises and, as usual, discussing ideas and topics; how good they are and which directions we can take them and so on. Beirut and Fadi seemed to have 2 completely different opinions regarding Twitter and its usefulness for businesses vs. its disadvantages. We decided to write this “duet” article and in turn listen to our readers opinions.

1,2,3…. Debate!

Let the debate begin!

Let the debate begin!

Fadi’s Opinion – Pro Twitter for Enterprise

While Twitter, like any other available tool at work – be it telephone, email, or even internet access – can be abused if not used the right way, it can also provide many benefits and open new opportunities to any businesses. Don’t blame the tool, blame people who abuse it.

There are many ways where Twitter can benefit your business. The following are my favorite top 5:

  1. Motivation: The more motivated your employees are, the more productive they can be. People have several motivating factors. I, myself, totally support the opinion that says socializing is the primary motivating factor. Wrap the social aspect of Twitter in your business constraints and you will have a winning formula for motivated employees.
  2. Marketing: Twitter is a great tool to interact with your customers and market your services and products. Dell earned $3 Million from Twitter when they started posting exclusive coupons and offers about new products on their Twitter account (@DellOutlet).  Coffe Groundz, a Houston independent coffee shop, gained much success by giving their customers the option to order via Twitter (@coffeegroundz)! That was a precedence – a very successful one.

    Dell Free Coupons Tweets

    Dell Free Coupons Tweets

  3. Listening: One of the most important characteristic of a successful business is to be able to figure out what its customers need and improve its offering of products/services accordingly. Twitter provides a great way for a business to listen to related people’s conversations. Tasti D-Lite, a popular New York dessert franchise, was there to listen to people working at the Empire State Building who twittered about their craving for ice cream delivery (@tastidlite) – it opened a new business opportunity to them.
  4. Training: Twitter is a sharing platform in nature. People are dismissing emails and using Twitter to share faster the information they find over the web. It may not be a bad idea to identify key people in your enterprise who have unique expertise/knowledge and are willing to share it fast and efficiently over Twitter.
  5. Better Customer Service: “Great customer service can be the ultimate marketing tool” while using Twitter to service your customer may increase your business reputation, it can also save your customer service department a lot of the trouble of addressing the same inquiries over and over again. The conversations are public and can help many other customers seeking the same information.

Last words…

Twitter combines public messages that are quick to write, easy to read, controlled by the recipient and exchangeable anywhere. It provides a powerful, real-time 2-ways communication that is ground-breaking for users and businesses alike.

Enterprise is the future of Twitter, take advantage of it before your competitors jump on and leave you behind. I would recommend to check out Yammer - a specialized version of Twitter for businesses -, too.

Beirut’s Opinion – Anti Twitter for Enterprise

Twitter: “the final frontier”, or maybe not yet it is a fact that Twitter still remains to be one of the best social media tools available for interaction and communication across borders and between different people dispersed all over the world.

So, why would I, the Twitter addict, advice against Twitter being used in the enterprise? It’s very simple actually: the threats and harms Twitter can potentially cause as opposed to the advantages reaped by using it.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month“. But let’s face it, if an enterprise falls into trouble due to its Twitter use, could it really go kick Twitter in the pants? I guess not. So why trouble trouble from the beginning?

I can think of a long list of why I would advice an enterprise against using Twitter. But here are the top 5 highly interrelated reasons I can think of:

  1. Intellectual Property Loss: I won’t go too far, I’ll just validate this point by mentioning the most recent hacker attack that Twitter suffered from a few days ago. Who knows how much data could have been really jeopardized during such an attack: how many passwords stolen, e-mails unlawfully taken and so on? Besides, creative marketing, promotional and advertising ideas and efforts are really precious and tweeting them on Twitter makes them a target for theft and plagiarism!

    Protecting Intellectual Property Vs. Trusting Employees

    Protecting Intellectual Property Vs. Trusting Employees

  2. Lack of Control: Think about this for a second: Do you remember reading about the many times employees got fired due to their misuse of social media? Please don’t underestimate the severity of the situation! Employers can not possibly have full control over what their employees say on Twitter about their enterprises. This could lead to big trouble for the enterprise and the employees as well!
  3. Liability: We all know that a company and/or organization is responsible for every word being said or “tweeted” about it from any of its employees. The more enterprises allow using Twitter so openly and in the name of the enterprise, the higher the liability placed on the companies shoulders. Employers should be very well aware of that!
  4. Spam Limitations: This could be tricky: Let’s say you own a business in manufacturing and promoting kid products. You add followers haphazardly to increase your exposure. While visiting your profile, we find “Sexyhotchick’s” or “adultfinder’s” tweet on your home page. Not very professional, is it now?
  5. Lack of Trust: Customers know that it is easier to fake, make up or manipulate information through social media venues such as Twitter. I would personally trust an ad on TV way more than one on Twitter. Why? Because I know for a fact that this company has invested money, time and resources to have this ad on TV and it will not risk its reputation by deceiving on such a viral medium!

Last words…

Long ago, before Twitter ever existed and social media online was a far away concept, people used e-mails, meetings as well as different types of marketing tools to get messages across. Twitter is an accessory not a need, further, a Twitterless world is possible! As long as we all keep a straight open mind in relation to that, we can probably have the best of both worlds (the virtual and the real one!).

What’s your take?

If you own a company or work as an adviser or consultant for one, would you encourage or discourage the use of Twitter? We presented both side of the argument, Fadi with and Beirut against – what do you think?

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com M.Bamieh

    Hey as long as they are willing to sign a AIUP before touching the internets i'm all for using whatever they want … and that would only be for the peripheral employees, i doubt anyone in the corporate world would be amused with someone live tweeting/blogging a board of directors meeting.
    So unless its incubated by a legal or technological medium … it won't be as beneficial.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Thanks for your comment but let me ask you a question: An employee signed the agreement, stole information and intellectual property and caused the company major losses and a negative impact on its reputation, will prison be enough to fix the damage done?

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    But that can happen as well with any other tool that companies use today. Take email for an instance, how much harm one can do by simply using his company's email in a wrong way? What if someone decided to send out secret information by email? Would we stop using emails? What about cell phones? Same?

    You don't just strip your business of all the benefits it can have of using a tool just because you can't manage it right.

  • http://blogspot.fluidnewmedia.com Ahad Bokhari

    I use twitter for sharing, communicating and connecting with great minds especially early adopters and tech evangelists! I also think twitter is great for marketing yourself, company or brand. I would not go as far as to say its a great place to get leeds and clients, but you can increase your visibility for sure.

    Twitter was never developed as a communication tool and this is one of the reasons that the attacks succeeded, just ask the developers and they arent happy at whats happening nowadays. First rule of an app is keeping your devs happy, which in recent months is not the case…

    @beiruta Fact of the world is that individuals have been white-labeling for a long long time now, its only a matter of time that employees leave and cough up secrets. Did you read how Zuckerberg got facebooks idea? A good thought by you tho..

    @FadiPick: From a developer tech perspective i have to agree with you. People shun tools and apps just cuz they don't know how to use them effectively.

    Conclusion: To conclude yes i would encourage company members to use twitter, but not on company time unless its for a marketing or PR purpose. I think most CEO's use twitter themselves for different reasons. Bottom line is the $$$'s right? I would like to add that if you really want twitter to work for you then follow the right people for they WILL DEFINE YOU.

    Thanks for your encouragement and hope you don't mind my $0.02. Always appreciate what you people are doing here!!

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    @featueBlend, we also appreciate your 2 cents, espeically that you agreeing with that point of mine :P. Beirut will kill me now!

    For me, I would open the door for people at my company to use twitter if nothing but just to raise their morales which would motivate them in a way or another to give more. I do really understand when someone achieve something at work and is very proud of his achievement that he wants to share it with the world, that is so fullfiling! I know that I would want to do better just for the moment of telling everyone and getting their feedback. I feel it here at thoughtpick when I finish writing a post and then wait for people's feedback.

    Following the right people is a key in getting the best out of Twitter. That is a great advice! I totally agree with you here :)

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  • http://blog.spotonpr.com/ Carrington Malin | Spot On PR

    This can be an unwinnable argument, since you're both absolutely right! At the end of the day, it comes down to the corporate will and commitment to engage in social media. If social media has the buy-in of the CEO, then problems can suddenly become solveable, risks manageable and issues workable. Without it, its very easy to end up with the organisation's social media fans and naysayers at an impasse.

    Small to medium sized businesses have often got it easy, because they can solve issues and arrive at a consensus that defies normal business practices more easily than larger businesses. The big thorny issues usually crop up with large organisations. Social media campaigns can cut across every formal process in the company, disrupting every approval process, crossing every brand guideline, blurring reporting procedures and distributing the 'social media power' to those who are usually without authority. Entering the world of social media can be intimidating for large organisations, to say the least!

    So, why bother? The critics have more than enough amunition to argue against taking the social media plunge. Why not let them win? The answer is that the risks of not participating in the social web can be equally as scary as the obstacles. Not listening, not engaging key audiences and not being online to take part in the conversation is today a business risk. In the era of user-generated content, leaving all comment and content on new media platforms to the public, your competitors and other audiences outside of your control has very real risks of its own. And, as those working in media will know, news expands to fill a vacuum. So, if your organisation is thrust into the spotlight against its will, know that if you don't talk others will. If that means teaching your organisation how to communicate all over again, then that's the price you'll (sooner or later) have to pay. And it's better to begin investing that time now than when you are forced to respond to a crisis or to play catch-up to your competitors later on.

  • http://gilbertogalea.com gilbertogalea

    Interesting debate, for me, there aren't good or bad use for tweetter at the enterprices, only we keep in mind that is additional tool,
    Thanks by share,

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