More than half (54%) of professional communicators think Twitter is a fad and believe that the burgeoning number of users and tweets will eventually reach a plateau and likely decline, according to a poll by Ragan Communications and PollStream.
This division in sentiment represents a split in the corporate communications field as to whether Twitter is a viable business and communications tool with staying power or a flash-in-the pan novelty that will eventually give way to something new.
Among respondents, 28% report that their companies currently employ microblogging as part of their communications activities. Those who do tweet credit Twitter with increasing employee engagement, improving customer service and reputation with customers, and boosting website traffic – among other benefits, Ragan said.
Another 40% of suvey respondents say that they have no microblogging plan in place – either by choice or because they don’t have the resources. Most often, they say it is because of fearful managers who are hesitant to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, lack of time and/or staff, or the belief that it won’t benefit the company, the survey found.
Communicators Remain Divided
Communicators themselves remain divided as to Twitter’s usefulness and the value they can potentially bring to companies and brands. Some believe that mundane drabbles from average Joes cannot compete with high-profile celebrity news and will eventually fade away into obscurity when people run out of things to say.
“[It’s a fad] because everybody’s doing it,” said Bob Hirschfeld, senior public information officer for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (via Ragan.com). “Ashton Kutcher and CNN have a steady supply of fans who want to know what they do. People like us, people with a job to do, every so often we do something of interest to the general public [but] we don’t have that steady supply of stuff that the public is interested in.”
Others, however, disagree and think Twitter does have usefulness, though teh tool must be used carefully, and in appropriate situations and industries.
Josh McColough, a communicator at Sherman Health, believes that companies trying to attract and sell to customers are likely a natural fit for Twitter. For other organizations, “the trick is to keep information coming and conversation active” after evaluating what the goals are, he said.
Ragan.com cited a recent eMarketer study that said Twitter users now number more than 12.1 million and are projected to reach 18.1 million by 2010.
The debate over Twitter is likely to continue. While eMarketer recently questioned if it was time to write an epitaph for the microblogging tool,? a recent study by the DMA and Headmix found that nearly half of marketers and executives are using it as a communications tool at work.
Another study by the Participatory Marketing Network revealed that Twitter falls flat for 78% of Millennials.