The Twitter world has been on fire in the last couple of weeks with news of Stephen Fry suspending his account. Fry, the British author, actor, national treasure, TV personality and all round cleverest guy in the country, was upset after people criticised his comment when presenting the Bafta Awards – he was apparently rude to the winner of the best costume design, but it turned out she was an old friend and his remarks were simply humorous banter between friends.
This is what he said about Twitter.
Oh goodness, what fun twitter was in the early days, a secret bathing-pool in a magical glade in an enchanted forest… We chattered and laughed and put the world to rights and shared thoughts sacred, silly and profane. But now the pool is stagnant. It is frothy with scum, clogged with weeds and littered with broken glass, sharp rocks and slimy rubbish. If you don’t watch yourself, with every move you’ll end up being gashed, broken, bruised or contused. Even if you negotiate the sharp rocks you’ll soon feel that too many people have peed in the pool for you to want to swim there anymore. The fun is over.
Does this matter? Yes, it probably does to Twitter. Fry had 12 million followers on the site, and whilst not may are going to leave immediately given his disappearance, it will reduce the attraction for some, and adds to a sense that there are some real issues with the social media innovator. As well as being a home for trolls, abuse and holier-than-thou political correctness, Twitter has also struggled to find a way to make money from the site in the way that Facebook and Google have clearly cracked.
What does this mean to business users of Twitter? Well, we still find it invaluable as a means of communicating with our readers and friends on Spend Matters. But we do wonder whether the future will be websites and apps that take the great principles and features of social media, but apply them perhaps in a somewhat more controlled manner. On Twitter, you can’t stop anyone reading – and commenting – on your material. That can have negatives, as Fry found.
That is of course one of the aspects of SpendLead that appealed to me as an ex Procurement Director when I first saw the product. The ability to communicate – seller to buyer, buyer to seller – in an easy, one to many or one to one social media type style, but retain control over access, is very attractive. For buyers, being able to see marketing material but then judge how far and how quickly you want to take the “relationship” with the supplier, is very powerful.
So maybe in twenty years’ time we will look back on some of the current social media products, and see that they were stepping stones – essential, but still intermediate steps on the way to truly effective social-media type tools for business people. We hope Twitter survives and thrives; but maybe something better will come along. Or maybe it is here already!