Twitter = Guayabera Shirt?
A Motley Fool post about Twitter reminded me, of all things, of an ancient WSJ article about the popularity of guayabera shirts. I dimly recall that the article spent a long time discussing the comfort and business acceptability of the guayabera, but then closed with a punchline that went something like, “That’s all fine, but when the boss is looking around the conference table for someone to downsize, do you want to be the guy in the guayabera shirt?” My paraphrased version in relation to this Twitter headline was, “That’s all fine, but do you want to be the guy Twittering when the boss is deciding who gets a pink slip?” In fact, though, the article makes a few good points about potential business value in Twitter.
Notably, the story leads by noting that Dell recently pushed out $500K worth of refurb PCs via Twitter, no small feat for a free medium. I’m sure paid ad venues or direct mail pieces capable of moving that volume would have cost thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars. Score one for Twitter.
Tim Beyers, author of the Motley Fool piece, suggests that because of its network effect Twitter has created real value, and does some loose extrapolation to suggest a value in the $60 to $150 million range.
Still, if you:
1) Have a boss, and
2) Spend a lot of time on Twitter
be sure you have a good business case for Twittering at the office. Moving inventory is good. Making sales of any kind is good. Getting quick answers for tough tech questions is good. On the other hand, in today’s tough times, building your Twitter following for some vaguely defined future benefit could indeed be the equivalent of showing up at the office in a funny pleated shirt when everyone else is buttoned down.