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SpirE-Journal 2012 Q2

Side Click: Is microblogging a blessing or a curse?

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Side Click: Is microblogging a blessing or a curse?

Microblogging is well-established globally as a way of keeping in touch with others about events occurring in their lives in real-time. Popular microblogging sites include Twitter in the U.S., Tencent QQ in China and Me2day in South Korea. Twitter has 140 million active users1, while China’s Tencent QQ has a staggering 721 million active user accounts2, ranking only behind Facebook in terms of being the most used social networking service worldwide.

Microblogging allows users to combine blogging and instant messaging to post short messages on their profiles3; including small and conversational talk, self-promotion, spam and news4. On a deeper level, microblogging has altered the way people consume and generate information – not only democratizing the broadcasting of information but also enabling it to be done in real-time.

Connecting to stakeholders

There are several benefits to integrating microblogging into a business’s regular stakeholder communication regime.

Consumers who “follow” a company’s products or services would be the first to know of any promotions. The company also benefits through obtaining prompt feedback and suggestions for improvement. A concerned investor would want to be the first to know of any important news which might impact her returns.

Zappos and Comcast are just two companies that have successfully used Twitter to connect with their stakeholders.

Micoroblogging can also improve communication within an organization. Managers are able to establish more informal communication channels with shorter messages. Words of encouragement can be shared with employees in the office, creating a more nurturing and productive environment.

Information sent out by organizations should be tailored to suit various stakeholders. It is vital to note that bigger organizations tend to have a larger and more differentiated customer, employee and shareholder base. For instance, Dell has more than 20 official Twitter accounts; each individually managed to cater to a specific audience.

However, microblogging becomes a menace when an organization becomes too intrusive and invades the personal space of followers – for example by trying to connect to individual followers . Furthermore, microblogging has the potential to become a vastly distracting medium that fosters unproductive chatter in the workplace and inhibits the ability of followers to concentrate on even the simplest task.

Blessing or curse?

Are there any signs of a backlash against microblogging? Microblog accounts continue to grow, adding to an already vast population. Companies are continuing to engage stakeholders on this medium. When former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd created a Sina Weibo microblogging account, he quickly secured 150,000 followers in mainland China.

Micro-blogging is the only technology platform that allows people to feel connected to brands, news-makers and individuals they care about. It would be foolish to bet against it.

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