I find it fascinating when I read about people balking or cringing at the way Guy Kawasaki uses Twitter for marketing. It’s as if he’s paving the way for the Twitter apocalypse and is destroying everything Twitter was meant to be. In reality, that couldn’t be furthest from the truth. He’s simply testing the medium and doing it in a way that allows him to engage the community, without ruining it.
There are self-proclaimed Twitter Nazis that suggest or imply that Twitter should be used one way or another (mainly, their way). The idea of a person using a sophisticated Twitter strategy, or the thought of having someone else tweet for their account, makes them shudder. However, the irony is that they are the same people who also utilize Twitter purely for their own marketing purposes — marketing their agency, affiliate sites, etc… — they simply do it in a slightly different way than the people they are so offended by.
Twitter, like the Internet, and unlike Facebook, is a fairly open system. There are features built into Twitter that allow you to be as open or closed as you want. You can follow and not follow whomever you want, and you can choose who can and can’t follow your account. If you get tired of random replies, there are preferences that allow you to turn off replies completely. You can also block any user on Twitter that annoys you.
Twitter is also an excellent medium for communicating ideas and services. The reason it’s a good medium, is because there’s an audience that’s interested in reading and engaging with the message. In fact, they’re not only interested in it, they actually opt-in to it through the process of following.
Twitter doesn’t exist so people can micro-blog their extremely boring existence to each other. It ultimately exists to recoup its cost, and to make a profit for Twitter and its investors. That’s why Twitter is embracing commercialism and marketing by introducing paid accounts that will provide value-added services to companies and users. If that isn’t a shot across the bow for the whiny Twitter idealists, and their narrow definition of how Twitter should be used, I don’t know what is.
So will Twitter’s embrace of commercialization ruin it? Probably not. I suspect things will goes on as they normally have. We’ll probably see some new features that will benefit all users, and a few that will make it easier for marketers to better find and reach out to their target audiences. Ultimately, I believe it will be good for the community as a whole, and will further establish Twitter-approved folkways and mores in regards to how one can and should market on Twitter.