To tweet or not to tweet?

A bit of a first today: meeting with a new client, I found myself – for the first time – insisting that they get a Twitter account. I think they were rather taken aback by the suggestion: so was I, to be honest.
But I think it’s important to recognise that Twitter has reached a certain scale now, where it can’t be ignored. And even if your account isn’t likely to attract huge numbers of followers, you need to be aware of the wider potential community, and the potential audience for a retweet: this particular organisation is in the international development space, also populated by DFID (9,000 followers) and NGOs such as Oxfam (80,00 followers). Make it easy for them to spread your message: give it to them in a format which allows them to pass it on with a single click.
As we’re using WordPress (inevitably), it can be a zero-effort addition to your online offering: there are plenty of plugins which will send automated tweets, based on a pre-defined template, to your Twitter account. Alex King’s Twitter Tools tends to be the most popular, but I tend to avoid it – it’s been a suspect (although never formally charged) in a couple of site failures. Instead, at the moment, I’m recommending WordTwit – which isn’t perfect, but does seem to do the job reliably.
And maybe it’s just me, but where I used to react quite negatively to automated ‘hey! look at my blog!’ tweets, I actually quite welcome them now. A blip in the flow of my daily Twitter stream isn’t enough to derail my train of thought, and it might be something I want to read (otherwise why did I follow the account in the first place?).
Three years ago, I wrote a post suggesting that Facebook would become the RSS consumption tool for the masses. I think the fine detail of my prediction may have been wrong, but the substance was right. The social network has become the notification channel for the masses.
Setting up the Twitter account costs nothing. Sending the automated tweets costs nothing. If it helps even one person, on one occasion, you’re in notional profit. And there’s unquestionable potential to go much, much wider.

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