Twitter is digital Marijuana – Wasted Time or Lost Opportunity

Twitter is a place to tell the world something in all of 140 characters. I’m not about to explain that the underlying sms technology is what creates this limit and it is not a number based on user research or any fancy stuff of the sort. So it’s a great way to waste company time for personal gratification. After all, how can anybody say something in just 140 characters (including spaces). How’s 20-odd words going to convey anything meaningfully?

imageOkay, so you want to be the first to tell the world what’s happening around you. You want to get your thoughts out of your system so new ones can be born. You want to keep checking how many people are following you. And you want your employer to pay for all this. Shame on you. What a waste of time! And some of you even try to convince your marketing guys get a company account for some ‘brand building and preservation’. The world is about ‘conversations’ you say.

Sorry, but I just don’t get it. Okay, the Dalai Lama tweets his spirituality. AndAnand Mahindra defends Xylo. And what to say of Barkha Dutt, Vishnu Som, N Madhavan (must be 24×7), Rajdeep Sardesai, Vir Sanghvi and other media persons who waste the entire day making announcements, tweeting programme schedules and giving opinions. See what happened to Lalit Modi and our very own Shashi Tharoor. They’re all wasting their official time tweeting. Twitter must contain digital cannabis for the kind of addiction it causes. I’d recommend setting up a twitter rehab centre. And Oh, how did I forget Obama!160426-web

The guys running The Economist, NYT, Mint, … all need to get their heads checked. They’re doing their print and online publications more harm than good by releasing news bytes just as soon as they break. If everybody was on twitter, you wouldn’t need newspapers, news channels or any published material since everybody would know what’s happening the very instant it happened.

India now has the third highest number of active users (2 million) after US and Germany – impressive figures for an illiterate country – wasting their time on twitter. Thank heavens for you sensible and responsible people who’ve stayed clear of this menace. It speaks highly of your integrity and conscientiousness.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I smell opportunity – so many crazy people on twitter all over the world is a captive target that instantly ‘sees and hears’. Save some fortunes and time you had planned to donate to your ad agency. What say you marketing wizzies?

From the Business India cover story “Life in 140 characters” (Iffort study)


Many of the active brands are using Twitter as a broadcasting platform. But several are focused on the ‘conversational’ aspects with emphasis on customer service.
News brands make the most tweets. That’s expected; they have something new to say.
Twitter can be a wonderful tool for resolution of customer problems. Happy customers communicate to other Tweeters.
Organisations have started adapting Twitter to showcase their latest offerings, promote product launches, offer discounts and announce contests.
Some in the IT industry like Microsoft India (it has a team of 5-6 people), Hewlett-Packard India and Capgemini are Twitter-friendly. Their accounts are active and managed by real people. Most Indian IT companies, however, have taken the easy way out by automating the process. The result: No ‘conversation’.

But the bottom-line is that “Twitter’s penetration in organisations will continue to increase on both sides of the spectrum. Conversations between users and brands which are managed by humans with an emotional quotient will continue to thrive. More companies will start using Twitter for market research, listening to users and keeping track of competition.”

“What consumers appreciate the most is ‘being heard’ and brands that are responsive,” says D. Shivakumar, Nokia India VP and country manager. “That’s a great way of telling your customer that you care. Twitter has worked for brands such as Comcast, Dell, Starbucks and
Nokia because it is real time, transparent, honest and open minded.”

Adds Daksh Sharma, co-founder of Iffort Consulting, “Indian business owners are not exposed to successful case studies of the benefits of Twitter and Social Media.”

So where does that leave us? I remember a quote from the famous scientist Max Planck –

A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

I’d say it applies to the Twitter generation too. I’m on Twitter ‘wasting’ company time.


4 Replies to “Twitter is digital Marijuana – Wasted Time or Lost Opportunity”

  1. No. You got me wrong. I liken Tweeting to hollering, except that it is in text. We have been hollering for ages at work, in factories, offices etc. Tabbed browsing makes it easy.


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