Sometimes all those tweeting birds can be pretty dang obnoxious

An article today answered the question: who finds Twitter more effective, advertisers or consumers? With the relative absence of MOST consumers across most demographics on the short-format life-update (a.k.a. microblogging) platform, the answer seems to be resoundingly: the advertisers. Shocking, eh?

Here’s what the article has to say:

The research, which included surveys of US advertisers and Internet users, found that while 83% of advertisers were familiar with Twitter, only 31% of Web users were.

Naturally, younger respondents were more familiar with the microblogging site. Only 11% of 18-to-39-year-old advertisers did not know enough about Twitter to have an opinion on its value, compared with 20% of advertisers ages 40 to 49 and 21% of those 50 and older.

Among Internet users, 55% of 18-to-34-year-olds said they were not familiar enough to have an opinion, compared with 80% of those 55 and older.

In terms of Twitter’s effectiveness for promoting products and ideas, both advertisers and consumers were tepid.

I’ve got to say I’ve been pondering lately just who we’re all tweeting at, for, to … I follow countless media and pr gurus, other organizations, other publishers and non-profits, and a huge handful of friends. For the most part, I personally use Twitter to provide pithy (at least to my mind, thank you very much) life updates via my Facebook account, ask the occassional well-targeted question, or provide the occassional observation about my field, my social setting, etc. That’s me Tweeting as me, self, persona Gretchen. When we consider how to Tweet as an organization, we seem to change the tone; we become more broadcast oriented and less conversational. And I’ve not yet decided whether that’s a problem, or not.

I’ve also paid more than cursory attention to what I define as an effete snobbery by the Twitterati (typically in the media and pr categories), who often come off sounding a bit like the stereotypical junior high cool kid when they critique and generally put-down the average Joe’s use of the platform. Some in my peer group, it seems, have definitely determined that there’s a “right” way to use Twitter, which seems (in my mind) to actually dissemble the entire point of platform! And that has led me to really wonder: does it matter how all of the media and marketing communications experts think Twitter should function (billboard vs. conversation; status update vs. status “shaper”), or should we really be paying better attention to how the “normal” user is making use (or as the article referenced above points out, doesn’t even use) of Twitter, and adjust our message via the media accordingly?

This isn’t revolutionary at all. The concept – the media is the message – is as old as … well, as old as McLuhan was in the late 60s when he coined the phrase. And good communicators understand that you can’t use the media in a way that just doesn’t talk like the other people in the room, be it virutal or more staid and traditional (four walls, actual faces looking at you, you remember those days!). Case in point: one of our organization’s core products enjoys a very unique core customer — the volunteer suburban parent (typically mom). IF (and I definitely stress IF) we decide to talk to her via Twitter, we better use the media to talk with her in her language. If she’s accustomed to using the platform as a conversation, let’s give it a go. If she thinks it’s more useful as a savvy broadcast platform – better lead with that. The point is, as Brian Solis wrote in his early summer 2009 post, “Is Twitter a Conversation or a Broadcast Platform“, it seems it can be both. He writes:

In the meantime, Twitter will continue to flourish as a rapid-fire broadcast network until people learn how to communicate, understand how to participate and what to contribute, and eventually ease into a collaborative, two-way meaningful dialogue that represents Twitter’s greatest promise.

The point isn’t so much whether you are using Twitter “appropriately” to begin with, but are you using it as part of plain old excellent communication strategy — you know, using it to share, hear, respond, and explore real, meaningful dialogue with people you truly want to reach and know. And to get there, you’ve got to be realistic about how the people around you think Twitter (or Facebook, or the company blog) is supposed to work, and grow the cacophony from there.

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