Gartner Blog Network

Twitter is best left for the birds…

by Rob Addy  |  October 23, 2012  |  Submit a Comment

No. This isn’t an anti-Twitter or anti-Tweeting post. Twitter does very definitely have it’s place within today’s product support context. This is a post about support providers that think it’s a good idea to broadcast a never ending stream of overly generic and/or overly specific support related messages to the waiting world with apparently little or no thought as to the consequences of their actions or the effect that their tweeting noise has on their brand image and reputation. Broadcast is bad. Listening (when combined with rapid direct response to any individual concerned) is good.

Why oh why would anyone think it is a good idea to tell the world repeatedly about known product compatibility issues and open technical problems. Isn’t that akin to pouring salt into the open wound? At the very least you are reinforcing negative perceptions that exist. And potentially you are helping to create new ones. Certainly when on the odd occasion I do actually decide to “follow” a provider’s support feed it fills me with dismay to find my queue filled with inane generalities or worse, hundreds of overly specific messages regarding the myriad of products supported. Let us put to one side my concerns over the pseudo religious connotations of “following” and being “followed” for a moment. How many providers are actually analyzing their followers demographically and attempting to understand which of their products or offerings they are interested in? My guess is very few. Probably, none. And that isn’t because it’s difficult or time consuming (which it would be) but because they simply haven’t thought out what their tweeting policy should be. How many even have such a thing?? What would it contain if it existed???

Have these organizations never heard the tale of the little boy that cried wolf? Don’t they understand that many many people believe in the old adage that there is no smoke without fire? Do they not realize that the fastest way to be un-followed (if that is the correct term) is to pump out irrelevant tweets that annoy more than they inform? How much damage is being done to brands within the ¬†subconscious minds of customers as they see these streams of negativity? How many potential sales are being lost as followers build a less than rosy picture of the performance and quality of specific products from these tweets?

Yes. Broadcast is most definitely bad. Please please please don’t do it. By all means, actively listen. Listening is good.

Twitter is a communication medium similar to many others. Yes, there are differences but I would argue that there are far more similarities. Context and constituency focus are key. There is undoubtedly a need for providers to have multiple twitter streams to enable them to focus content more appropriately – yet many rely on just the one generic account…

Twitter is a tool. A tool that can be used for good or ill. Take a moment to think about how you are using it. Does it help your cause or hinder your progress? Make sure it is actively working for you, because if it isn’t then that probably means that is passively conspiring against you!

Rant over. I’m going to lie down in a darkened room to recover now…



Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: support-processes  

Rob Addy
Research Vice President
5 years at Gartner
More years than I care to remember in the IT industry

Welcome to my blog! I post about all things services related from the provider perspective. End-users are welcome to read but please be aware that you may sometimes find its content unsettling. I will endeavour to post frequently (as it's a lot cheaper than a therapist) but please forgive me if other more mundane activities occasionally get in the way...Read my official Gartner bio here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.