The rise of the Twitter business opportunity

twitterpartners So as Twitter continues it’s seemingly endless growth trajectory – the micro-blogging service now has about 10 million users worldwide, says comScore – it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there are opportunities for consultants to help businesses figure out the value of Twitter.

You simply can’t ignore a communication medium that has enjoyed a growth rate in users of more than 700 percent over the past year and is used by people to talk about anything including your brand.

Undoubtedly some people will scoff at the very idea of a consultant advising you on how to use Twitter. What’s to advise? some might say. You don’t need consultants to know how to use this tool.

I beg to differ. If you consider Twitter as a legitimate business communication medium, worthy of the same consideration you’d give to any other communication medium (a video, for example, or a printed sales brochure or website), then a good consultant can be helpful.

(To be upfront: I’m a communication consultant. I often talk about Twitter to companies and other organizations. If you want to check my credibility credentials to write a post on this kind of topic, here’s the story on what I do.)

The key (and somewhat subjective) word is ‘good.’ Today, there are any number of ‘social media consultants,’ some of whom are good, especially those who see social media from the business perspective and can speak from an immersive perspective (they actually use the tools they talk about).

They talk about business objectives, outcomes and measurement, not about building blogs or what avatar to have for your Twitter account. They’ll also see such tools as elements in the communication mix rather than the end game to focus on.

Equally, there are others who simply and frankly aren’t good at all, and will cause you some grief if not waste huge amounts of your time, money, opportunities and, potentially, your reputation.

Two news stories this week intrigue me quite a bit for the significance they suggest in believing Twitter is a serious business communication channel:

  1. The launch of Twitter Partners, a London-based consulting firm who describe themselves as “Twitter enthusiasts committed to building valuable apps and campaigns on top of Twitter.” The FT has the story about the firm which has some impressive entrepreneurial names behind it and some big-name launch clients in the entertainment industry.
  2. The deal between Webtrends, the US web analytics firm, and Radian6, the Canadian social media monitoring and analysis tool for PRs and marketers, to develop Webtrends Open Exchange, a service that takes the monitoring and analysis of social media including Twitter to a higher, automated and far more sophisticated level. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb has the full story.

To me, what both of these consulting-related stories clearly indicate is that social media tools like Twitter (especially tools like Twitter) have evolved way beyond the casual, seemingly-irrelevant instant messaging chatter that they appear to be, just full of banal and inane noise (heh, take a look at my tweets!).

Of most significance, though, is that the evolution in Twitter is much about how people use it rather than the tool itself. For instance, who could have imagined BakerTweet, a service that tweets you when fresh bread is ready? Or before that, a plant that tweets when it needs water? Or, more dramatically, tweeting has added $1 million is extra revenue for Dell?

Where’s this all going? Well, as the FT quotes Twitter Partners founder Peter Read saying:

[…] his agency is still figuring out how to make money from the service. “I could see that Twitter has potential,” he told the FT, “but I didn’t know where the commercial opportunities were and I don’t think anybody does at the moment.”

Inevitably, someone, somewhere, is about to.

Communication Leader, Social Media Leader, Consultant, Digital Change Agent, Speaker with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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