Twitter: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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Twitter is the current darling of the social networking community. And we’ve all seen the positive things Twitter has to offer when it comes to micro-blogging. It was only a matter of time before the human race found unfortunate ways monetize the world’s newest toy. Here are a few annoyances and exploitations I discovered:

  • Retailers were bound to try to harness the reaching power of Twitter, especially in a economic downturn. Dell became one of the first, writing tweets with the Twitter handle @DellOutlet to offer discounts on refurbished Dell products. If a you click on the link in the message, it takes you to a Dell Outlet page. Tesco, convenience and grocery store chain, is also using Twitter to announce sales and discounts. Retail messages are not always spam, but the advertisements do cloud the whole micro-blogosphere, in my opinion. But, its more of an annoyance than a serious grievance.
  • As Twitter has gained popularity, Twitter Squatting, has emerged as the micro-blogging world’s version of cyber squatting. People are taking up brand names, company names and famous individuals’ names as user names in the hopes of cashing in big one day, like many who bought popular domain names have in the past.
  • Tweettornado, a so-called commercial spamming tool, hit the market, potentially offering all those despised spammers a way to create an unlimited amount of Twitter accounts and add unlimited number of followers. This compounded with the application’s ability to automatically update all of the accounts with an identical message makes it an ideal tool to spam Twitter accounts. ZDNet pointed out that Tweettornado capitalized on a missing security link in Twitter’s user registration process: Twitter doesn’t require users to have a valid email address when registering a new account. Twitter will hopefully find a way to combat this shady business, but until then, beware of spam!

To all you Twitter fans out there, don’t despair. Along with the bad guys, there are many beacons of hope out there who are creating nifty Twitter-related applications.

  • Christian Burns

    The value of Twitter squating on a famous persons name of a company brand is null. Twitter will just give the squatter a new username and reassign the name to the celeb or brand when asked. Karl Rove got his name from a fake account after joining Twitter just a few months ago. It’s part of twitter’s terms of service.

  • Carl Olson

    Tried twitter. A colossal waste of time. There is way too much information flowing around. Tweets are basically stream of consciousness dribble. Little useful info, or you have to really wade through a lot of flotsam and jetsam. There, I’ve said it. It was a grueling waste of time. Feel liberated now that I deleted my account. You don’t have to follow the lemmings (pardon the really bad pun).

    • Sekhar Ravinutala

      I’d keep the account, just in case you go back. And before you dismiss Twitter, check out and see what goodies you can find.

    • nemrut

      ..that’s why you ‘reap what you sow.’ it’s all about quality not quantity. value is there, you just have to make the effort and be selective.

  • Ellie Fields

    I’ve definitely seen a lot more companies using twitter. My interests include skiing– 10 ski stores follow me in the hopes I’ll follow them. I’ve even seen the equivalent of pay-for-play tweets. A blogger writes a fawning story then tweets it, driving traffic to the post and the payer’s site.

    I’ve had trouble seeing use from twitter too, but I do believe there’s some “there” there. Maybe not as much as is hyped. But twitter’s “there” will go away if the twittersphere becomes 140-character ad space.

  • nemrut

    What i find ironic is the lack of initiative and mis-guided use of Twitter by it’s founders and even employees. They tend engage very little w/others on Twitter instead relying on the literal, irrelevant ‘What are you Doing’ broadcast approach.

    I, for one, would like to see some ‘adult-supervision’ take over Twitter and help make it something truly meaningful vs poking around w/trivial incremental improvements.

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    There is a great deal of opportunity for businesses to reach a niche audience on Twitter. Twitter users tend to be early adopters and influential people. Companies have the opportunity to listen to what influential people are saying about their products and services, then act on feedback. Twitter is a tool just like any other technology. To get real business value out of the tool, it must be used with best practices in mind.

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