Channel Watch

Bekker Gets All a-Twitter

At times more burdensome than helpful, Twitter becomes a business driver in these challenging times. So, how are partners using it?

So I told Ken Thoreson that it's surely a sign of the End Times.

Ken, who writes RCP's Selling Microsoft column and blogs on RCPmag.com, had e-mailed me that he was going to start twittering.

Fortunately, Ken took my comment in the lighthearted way I intended it, always a risk with e-mail. To be fair to Ken, his twittering plans were part of a contract he has with Microsoft for his Acumen Management Group business.

Ken's e-mail was actually just the kick in the pants I needed to figure out how to subscribe to Twitter and get a handle on it.

I had my first flicker of Twitter envy a month ago when I'd seen that Lance Armstrong was using the micro-blogging, social-networking technology. Armstrong tweeted his fans during the Tour of California about his up-to-the-minute decisions on whether he would risk riding his time trial bike, which had been stolen and then returned.

Until then, I had the same reaction to Twitter as I have to Facebook-status updates. I like my friends and all, but I don't care if they're "at the grocery store," "playing Monopoly with my kids," "going out for a sled ride," "feeling ennui" or "accepting bribes." (Actually I do like that last one. It's courtesy of the Colbert Report: a fake Facebook status update for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.)

Twitter seems mostly like more of that useless same. Am I giving it short shrift? Obviously, Ken's using Twitter for professional reasons, and there's some business logic behind it. Ken's set up his Twitter feed to discuss the contents of 30 live Microsoft partner workshops he ran on building business in challenging times and to promote the next round of six webcasts, called "Business Builder Sales Clinics."

His feed is called MsoftBusBuilder and you can find it by searching on Twitter.com for Acumen Management.

I suspect it's business that keeps celebrities tweeting, too. The constant updates keep the "brand" in front of the adoring public, making it a good use of time for celebrities who depend on popularity for their paychecks.

Which brings me to the channel. This goes back to the Web site 101 article we ran last month, focusing on search engine optimization and feedback mechanisms (see "Web 2.0 Series: Web Wise"). Is there a place for Twitter in a partner's business model? Are you using Twitter to communicate with customers or other partners? How do you handle the fine line between being informatively in touch and being annoying with this new medium? Is there another social-networking tool that you're incorporating into your business? Let's discuss -- I'm at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.