Twitter’s unapproved vacation at the hands of hackers this week left me feeling a bit off track for a few hours. It was like I had an itch that I couldn’t scratch without Twitter’s hands of comfort. As a PR pro, I make it my business to understand what people are reading and talking about first thing each day. It wasn’t until I realized that I couldn’t tweet or receive the useful banter of the community how much I rely on Twitter.
Unlike my complete devotion to Twitterville, for many companies and government organizations, Twitter is still an experiment in which they are afraid to participate. I even saw a press release with findings from a survey conducted by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law which stated that social media use is “generating its share of corporate heartburn.” The release went on to describe that more than half of executives surveyed “fear social media could be detrimental to employee productivity.”
I beg to differ with those executives. Twitter makes me more productive – I find just as much useful information as I do in an e-mail exchange from a client. I often find things that I’m convinced I would have no awareness into but that I definitely need to know. Other marketing and PR folks agree. According to those interviewed for an article by BusinessWeek staff writer Douglas MacMillan, the headline says it all “Twitter's Blackout: Bad for Business.”
The blackout was bad for business. I was unable to get information. Information to increase my engagement in and awareness of key trends affecting the traffic in my in-box and the papers on my desk. Earlier this week, I followed reports on Cisco’s earnings and got insight into the hearing on Nortel’s assets from Twitter, not CNN. Information is only useful if you can receive and then act on it. And for now, with 10 million users, Twitter is the information axis for public relations.