Monday, January 12, 2009

When I Use Twitter, IBM Wins...

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As I was having dinner with a colleague recently, it occurred to me that IBM gets more value out of me using Twitter, than I do. Now, I know in some cases as with Comcast, they actually pay people to use Twitter. Why ? Well, because it helps improve customer satisfaction and it's an easier/cheaper way to solicit customer input.

In my case, however, I'm not (officially) paid to Twitter on behalf of IBM. So, why do I think that IBM gets more value out of me using Twitter than I do personally? It's all about how I use Twitter.

How I use Twitter

I believe Twitter lets me build and maintain relationships with the external IBM community. Additionally, Twitter helps me collaborate effectively with customers, business partners, and even potential new customers. In fact, just recently I used Twitter to connect with a business partner and create a new iWidget for Lotus Connections in minutes! Again, in this case I'm helping IBM build a community and a set of solutions for their product.

A big part of Twitter is posting updates to your timeline. I send my updates to Twitter in different ways:

  • 75% of the time I use Twhirl to read and send status updates
  • 20% of the time I use TwitterBerry from my BlackBerry 8830 to read and post status updates
  • 5% of the time I use (via Google Talk) to update my status in Twitter (and Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, etc...)

The second way I use Twitter is to study what people are saying about Lotus Connections. By subscribing to a feed of updates that talk about Lotus Connections, I can monitor all Twitter users (regardless if I know them or not) and address any issues, FUD, or perhaps answer a question from a potential customer. For example, last month I saw a tweet by a Lotus Connections user and I responded offering my assistance. Here's what he had to say:


I've also discovered potential new opportunities for Lotus Connections using this feed.

Therefore, I'm helping IBM in the following ways:

  1. build a community around their product
  2. build a brand around their product
  3. provide free support for their product
  4. innovate, collaborate, and help business partners be successful (in turn making IBM successful)
  5. build awareness of the product
  6. provide more marketing of the product

Value to Me

Twitter certainly helps me stay on top of new fads and trends. I also get to exchange and discuss ideas with thought leaders from the Enterprise 2.0 world.

IBM > Me

Don't get me wrong. I'm not frustrated or mad that IBM gets more value out of it. I think this is a wonderful example of how social tools used by employees are a great value-add to the organization. Typically, organizations tell me that they are afraid of social tools: "they are just a waste of time and do not provide any value". I hope this example, is just another one that helps them see how social tools can be very powerful and constructive.

Next Step: Calculate the ROI for this use case! Any ideas on where to start?

How about you? How do you use Twitter? And do you feel like your employer gets more value out of it than you personally?

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