Friday, August 21, 2009

Is It Just Me Or Is Twitter Not Ready For Prime Time Yet?

Over the past few days I've seen about a million re-tweets of the big news: Twitter is about to roll out business accounts. I seem to be the only one who finds this news disturbing.

I feel like I'm in the social media version of the Emperor's New Clothes or something. Twitter's shortcomings--which are so glaringly obvious to me--seem to go totally unnoticed by others. Or at least unnoticed in the flurry and fuss over Twitter's impending for-pay offerings.

What shortcomings, you ask? Um, well let's start with the first and most glaring: the ubiquitous fail whale. The fact that we're still seeing him--as cute as he may be--means Twitter is not yet ready for prime time.

Here's the thing: the whale was cute when people were just using Twitter to talk about what they were having for lunch. It's no longer cute when companies are paying FTEs to be Twitter moderators and those people can't do their jobs because the site is down. It's one thing to rely on a free tool; that's kind of a "buyer beware" situation. But it's going to be a whole different ballgame when big companies are shelling out money for Twitter business accounts and the site goes down.

Big deal, you say--no platform is 100% reliable all the time. Ok, how about these Twitter issues:

  • Hacks.

  • Huge security breaches resulting in hundreds of confidential Twitter corporate documents ending up in people's inboxes.

  • The Denial-of-Service attacks that first shut Twitter down for hours then continued to cripple it several subsequent times in the following weeks.

  • Metrics. If I'm a company using Twitter for business, I need to be able to refer to search results indefinitely--not just for 2 weeks. Part of being a social media professional means being able to prove your worth and demonstrate the ROI of your new communication channels. My job may well depend on proving that the money my company spent on a certain campaign was well-spent, and the way to prove that is to be able to measure engagement. I can't do that if all the tweets disappear after 2 weeks.

I really wish I’d read something from Twitter about what they’re planning to do to address these huge obstacles before I read any more about their impending business offerings.

Am I crazy or are these legitimate concerns?

If you didn't think my other reasons were compelling enough, how about this Twitter exploit I just read about on Mashable?

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