CIOs Ask The Question: Is Twitter A Friend Or A Foe?

by drjim on March 31, 2010

Twitter Seems To Be A Tool That Comes With No Instructions

Twitter Seems To Be A Tool That Comes With No Instructions

When you become CIO you will have a number of tools available to you that CIOs never had in the past. #1 on this list is, of course, Twitter. However, wait a minute, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Sounds like you need to figure this out before you become CIO and make a mistake…

What Does Twitter Mean To A CIO?

Ultimately everything that a CIO does needs to be about finding ways to create more business for the company. That brings up the interesting question about Twitter: is this a good place for the company to be looking for customers?

While that question may currently have no clear answer, the one thing that nobody can argue with is the simple fact that Twitter is currently growing like a weed. Although different people come up with different numbers, everyone agrees that Twitter currently has between 18 – 23 million users. No matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of your potential customers!

So why are people using this service that restricts you to sending short 140 character bursts of text messages? A recent survey of Twitter users revealed that 42% of Twitter users use it to communicate (“tweet”) in order to connect with friends. 14% do it in order to have more interaction and access to their favorite companies, and 13% are doing it in order to be able to connect with service providers.

While this all sounds wonderful, it turns out that most of the companies that are already using Twitter really have no idea how to make the most of this new resource. It’s almost like when the Internet first showed up – everyone is once again going through a learning process.

Ways That A CIO Can Use Twitter

As a CIO, just saying “we’re going to use Twitter” is not enough, you need to come up with a concrete plan for how your firm can use Twitter in order to have a direct impact on developing more sales leads or even generating revenue. The good news here is that as you develop a Twitter plan for your company, you can be using Twitter because as many companies have found out there is very little risk to using this tool.

The computer company Dell is a clear leader in the field of companies that have found a way to maximize the value of Twitter. They have generated $3M from their Twitter activities since 2007. What Dell has been doing is using Twitter to post coupons and spread the word about new Dell products.

Other firms that are using Twitter view it as being an amplifier for their other marketing activities. This allows them to extend their reach and get more bang for their marketing buck.

There appears to be two different paths for a company to follow when they are using Twitter. One is to use it as another way to communicate what the corporate voice is saying. The other is to use it as a means to create a personal bond with their potential customers. Both ways work, you just need to make up your mind, pick one, and stick with it.

What All This Means For You

CIOs will always be facing the challenge of evaluating and deciding if a new tool should be used by the company. The sudden arrival and the overnight popularity of Twitter is a clear example of such a CIO opportunity.

Twitter has been adopted by a huge number of users who probably include both your existing and potential customers. It’s clear that the real question isn’t IF you should use Twitter, but rather HOW you should use it going forward.

Coming up with a clear Twitter strategy should be your first step: are you simply going to amplify what you are already telling your customers or are you going to try to connect with them on a deeper level? Once you’ve made this decision, you’ll have to devote the IT resources to making it happen on a consistent basis. Nobody ever said that being CIO was going to be easy, but maybe this will give you something to tweet about…

Do you thing that CIOs should use Twitter as part of a company’s communication program or should they stay away from it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you become CIO things are going to be different aren’t they? You’ll be one of those CIOs that has the respect of both their peers in the company and in their industry, right?

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