Blog post

In Search of a Twitter Enterprise Use Case?

By Anthony J. Bradley | March 03, 2009 | 3 Comments

social solutionssocial software

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. I think Twitter buzz is about to become the most buzzed term in history (out pacing even Web 2.0 and SOA – can you believe it). Is it really that fun? Is there really a compelling use case for enterprises or is this just a consumer thing?

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams on Charlie Rose last Friday stated that within 5 years “normal people” will be using Twitter (see article). Ironically, he uses blogging as an example saying that normal people blog. It seems that he defines “normal people” differently than I do. Almost none of my friends (outside the IT industry) and none of my family blog. Do yours?

Mars is using Twitter for candy brand Skittles Marketing apparently just to gain some press for doing Twitter-based marketing rather than any usefulness arising from the tweets themselves. [Update: Skittles has now replaced their Twitter-feed homepage with a facebook page homepage.]

There is a great series of Doonesbury Twitter comic strips (this link probably only good for today) that really do capture some general sentiment among the Twitter backlash crowd.

In addition to consumer side fun and frivolity, I do think that microblogging can have utility in the enterprise but only as part of a social solution. This is highlighted by the SocialText announcement of Signals their Twitter-like “social messaging” capability for the enterprise. Here are the general enterprise use cases I see.

1. Awareness or signaling. Microblogging can be used to drive awareness of an action or event and drive attention to that occurrence for additional actions. Be careful to mitigate signal overload.

2. Coordination. Microblogging can be an effective coordination tool for quickly organizing a response to an unanticipated event or in coordinating around a structured process or when a structured process breaks down.

3. Feedback. This Skittles thing highlights the potential use of Twitter for quick mass feedback on something. Certainly we have seen Twitter used for mass complaining (remember the Lacy-Zuckerberg interview and TwitterMoms vs. facebook breastfeeding ban). Might we see it morph into something more productive.

[Update: A recent and sad example of Twitter being used for both awareness and coordination is the snowboarding incident resulting in the death of Rob Williams.]

What enterprise use cases have you seen?

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  • Paul says:

    I can see Twitter being used in Agile work environments to help replace daily meet-ups. It would be an easy way for a team to share what they are working on each day. Not sure how IP and security plays into this use case, but it could help improve communication in Agile environments.

  • Anthony Bradley says:

    Yes, if not Twitter (security, reliability, etc.) then a corporate microblogging capability can meet this need.

  • Bob Woods says:

    I’m definitely hoping that the use of Twitter by both the enterprise and the enterprises’ end-users (customers, clients, members, etc.) becomes more productive and mainstream. Right now, I’d anecdotally say that about half of the people “out there” (all of the population) have heard of Twitter. Of that, about 75% have a very basic idea of how to use it.

    By the way, we’re currently developing a tool to help enterprises effectively use Twitter — especially those that have compliance or policy issues, when it comes to social media.

    Again, a great post!

    Bob Woods