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Watch the birdie

Can Twitter help your business?

There’s no getting away from the fact that Twitter is a phenomenon. It was only created in 2006, and yet already has over 500 million registered users, generating over 340 million tweets and 1.6 billion search queries every day.

It also has mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Nokia S40, a special website version for mobile devices, and SMS and MMS services.

All of which sounds fantastic. But if you’re running a naturist business, which almost by definition means that we’re talking SME (small-to-medium enterprise), is Twitter for you? And will it actually bring you in any extra clients or new customers?

The jury’s still out on Twitter in the Rouse house, where it divides opinion. My wife swears by it. She runs a gourmet catering company, finds it invaluable for keeping in touch with the latest trends in the world of fine dining, and follows (and is followed by) a small army of international Michelin-starred chefs and restaurant owners.

For me, it falls into the ‘life’s too short’ category. I simply don’t have the time to use it, and am not convinced in any case that it would actually help me. It’s a phenomenon, yes, but to tell the truth, one I’ve never really ‘got.’ Far more than Facebook, it’s also crammed full with an awful lot of inane drivel. Do I really care what Ashley Cole has for breakfast (or even who Ashley Cole has for breakfast)? I can easily keep up with trends in the industries I work in via the Internet. And as a professional journalist, it also offends me that TV news stations in particular seem to think that the random thoughts of some nonentity watching at home is anything I’d be remotely interested in, or has any bearing on the subject. When did journalism get to be so lazy? And what happened to expert opinion?

Musings

There’s far more to Twitter of course than the musings of celebrities or bar-room pundits, and I’m not saying that it doesn’t have its uses in the business world. But I think we’re talking big business here: promoting a high-street brand, improving the customer service of a large corporation or PLC, plugging a new movie or album, or PR in all its forms, from genuine news to spin and damage-limitation. Which means big numbers: customers who are likely to be counted in millions. If you’re running a naturist business - a holiday company, a guest house, a hotel, a merchandising service - it’s far more likely that your customer database, or even your most optimistic potential customer reach, is going to be far smaller.

Twitter does also seem to be largely the preserve of youth (with the notable exception of the likes of one of its major champions, Stephen Fry, of course), and being realistic, probably falls into the ‘new-fangled’ category as far as many naturists are concerned. Judging, dare I say it, by the quality of many naturist websites - which often achieve the impossible feat of looking as if they were designed even before the Internet itself came into existence - the industry in general is still hovering around the lower reaches of the technology learning curve, and probably needs to walk before it can run.

Agree? Disagree? Send me an email. Or even put your answers on a postcard if you must. Just don’t try tweeting me...


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