Is Twitter the messaging system we never knew we needed?

2009 Apr 6
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Maybe so—although, if you’re watching Stephen Colbert, you might be a bit confused. When Colbert hosted Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter, he was characteristically hard on him. “This sounds like the answer to a problem that we didn’t know we had until I invented the answer,” he said. On the other hand, Colbert himself twitters. And the messaging system we never knew we needed was overloaded today.

More seriously, when Colbert asked Stone why celebrities and politicians are such prolific users of Twitter (a half million people subscribe to Shaquille O’Neal’s Twitter feed), Stone explained that Twitter is a way for them to control their own messaging.

There may be a lesson here for nonprofits and other organizations. Twitter could be a great tool to control messaging when rumors are flying, or to build up anticipation (and support) in the midst of controversy or times of crisis (like our current economic situation.) For instance, the City of Chicago could be twittering right now, tracking the proceedings  and pumping  up interest in advance of the Olympic Committee’s first public statements about Chicago’s controversial bid to host the 2016 Summer games, which is happening tomorrow.

But of course in that case, Chicago’s communications problems have certainly been known for a while now.

- Elizabeth Farrell, Marketing and Communications Manager

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