The Power of Twitter

There are a lot of articles written about social media that are meant to enlighten those who are not yet wise to the scene.  They talk about how Facebook is going to completely change the way businesses make money or how Google + is going to revolutionize the targeted marketing game.  While there is probably some truth to all of that, much of what is out there is personal opinions and predictions, which are never in short supply.  Lately, however, it seems like many of them are trending toward the topic of Twitter’s influence in the marketplace.

Sometimes it’s an article about how an employee said some things he shouldn’t have and ended up losing his job, and sometimes it’s about the temporary crash of the stock market because a news outlet’s account has been hacked and is reporting events that didn’t actually happen.  They all re-enforce something that we have been saying for years: Twitter matters.

The New York Times reports on what happened when the AP account got hacked:

“Could the global economy hinge on 140 characters? That is the question the financial industry and government regulators are trying to answer after a Twitter hoax on Tuesday that claimed President Obama was injured in an explosion at the White House. That report caused the Dow Jones industrial average to drop temporarily by 150 points, erasing $136 billion in market value. The markets recovered in minutes, but the episode has heightened concern among regulators about the combination of social media and high-frequency trading.”

Even though the article explains that the market fluctuation was due, in large part, to automatic trading programs that use algorithms to determine whether to buy or sell based on keyword searches; it certainly demonstrates the power Twitter has in the business world.  With the recent SEC decision to allow public companies to use social media as a platform for announcing company news, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets are poised to command an even more important role in the business world in the very near future.

On a smaller scale, the image of a business is easily affected by Twitter interaction.  This is a lesson that was learned the hard way by Adam Orth formerly an Xbox Creative Director at Microsoft.  He made some inappropriate comments on Twitter while discussing an in development product which apparently lead to his leaving the company.  This particular scenario is a more common example of how public image on twitter can have a tangible impact on the success or failure of the business.  This sort of interpersonal communication can be a seed for how a company is viewed by it’s current and potential customers.  It’s easier to foster a relationship with people if you are willing to have a conversation, and this hold true for businesses.  Twitter is one of the easiest ways to start that conversation.

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