‘Never mind the twitterati – and here, unusually, I agree with David Cameron – anyone suffering from the desire to communicate what they are doing or thinking every minute of the day in fewer than 140 characters is best described as a twat.’

Thus respected editor at large at the Independent – Janet Street Porter – asked about Twitter a few months ago.

Twitter - can it be good for business?

I have to say Twitter is the one social media tool we at RAAK get asked about most by businesses and ordinary people alike. What’s the point and is it good for me?

We have already explained on this blog why we think Twitter in its current incarnation is quite a different tool from Facebook. The difference is encapsulated in the principle, Everybody has got friends but not everybody is a media outlet.

This nature of Twitter – it is good for talking and even for – shock horror – broadcasting (to use Forrester’s language) – makes it well suited to be used by brands or people with something to say.

And the business world is realising this. Just three weeks ago it was reported that Twitter is the tool of choice for talking by Fortune 500 companies:

‘Nearly 50 percent of the top 100 companies have a Twitter account. Four of the top five corporations, Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and General Electric, consistently post on their Twitter accounts. The top-ranked company, Exxon Mobil, does not have a Twitter account.’

These are much better stats than for corporate blogs, which at present are found at about 15% of these companies. Twitter’s strength lies partially in its simplicity. And unlike tools like blogs it’s relatively easy to use and quick to maintain.

But even if you’re not an opinionated thought leader, brand, artist or celeb, Twitter is a great tool.

For what I hear you ask? For listening: It’s great for finding potential clients, competitors, suppliers or partners.

And the combination of talking and listening with Twitter makes it an ideal tool for networking in general. On a par with LinkedIn in many respects.

In the next posts we’ll explain why Twitter is good for listening and talking and, first, a few practical tips for getting started.

All of these posts form part of RAAK’s Social Media course.

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