If all the buzz in the mass media isnt enough to get you interested in Twitter, here are three solid business reasons why CIOs should devote some time to learning more:
Get Targeted Insights Faster - Today, we often turn to Google to start the process of answering a question. It is great to offer pointers to established sites and articles. The downside is that a site or author needs to have established itself to be listed prominently in a Google search since Google is reputation-based. Some of the smartest people I meet havent devoted themselves to publishing or publicity that gets them a high Google ranking. But they are willing to share their experience and make themselves available for legitimate conversations.
Participate in Social Media Innovation - Chief marketing officers are falling over themselves trying to get smart about Twitter and other social media technologies. Can a CIO afford to be left out of a conversation about generating revenue using technology?
Over two-thirds of Twitters traffic doesnt come from its website. Instead, through the magic of their open application programming interface (API), hundreds of startups, hobbyists and hackers have developed Twitter-based tools to handle everything from automatically following people based on keywords you provide to automatically unfollowing someone if they unfollow you and everything in between.
There are two things that the CIO and his or her team are uniquely qualified to explore here. First, every organization can learn from the open API and the innovation that follows. Similar innovation is happening with the Apple iPhone and the AppStore, except that Apple has final approval of apps that make it on the iPhone. Twitter-based applications and mashups have no such limitations except for a limit on how many calls to the API can be made per hour to help manage traffic. Seeing what others have created can spark your thinking about what data and services your organization might open up to its important audiences.
Secondly, the availability of Twitters API may present a direct opportunity for you and your companys brand and products. Is there a way to utilize Twitter to support customer service (see @ComcastCares), promotions, order tracking, etc?
Expand Your Professional Network - The initial explosion of social media properties―MySpace, Facebook, and now Twitter―has come from the popular media. In Twitters case, much has been made about Aston Kutcher and Oprah, although in Oprahs case, she doesnt even do her own tweeting. Not very compelling for a business leader, I know.
The question is: as Twitter participation stabilizes will a valuable professional community emerge? There are some early signs that a viable CIO community exists on Twitter. At this point, Ive identified over 70 CIOs across 20 industries. You can keep tabs on the growing community at http://www.ciodashboard.com/cio-twitter-dashboard/. Some of the CIOs tweeting include NASAs CIO, Linda Cureton (@curetonl), a Dell IT SVP Vic Fetter (@vpfetter) and Harvard Medical Schools CIO John Halamka (@jhalamka).
Over the past three months, I have added at least 10 people to my IT leadership network. In addition, I have connected with a high profile industry luminary who I have been trying to meet for a few years. I just had a Twitter debate regarding how business leaders perceive IT investments with three colleagues, @PeterKretzman, @ITGEvangelist and @wmmonroe. I interact with these professionals almost daily and although I have never met them personally consider each of these people to be part of my new social-media driven, professional network.
Begin Your Exploration
You can choose to explore the Twitterverse yourself or delegate it. Personally, I would recommend trying it yourself for a while so you can call the bluff of people making uninformed comments. Heres how to go about it:
First, you have to get a Twitter account. In fact, you may want to get two, one for business and one personal. I know a CIO, an avid poker player, who started with only one account to interact with his card playing friends. Once his professional connections found him on Twitter (see http://www.ciodashboard.com/social-media/are-there-any-real-cios-in-the-twitterverse/ for more on finding people), he decided to create a second account to separate his IT-related professional conversations from his poker, sports, and other conversations.