This past week I’ve been working on defining a potential strategy to leverage Twitter – the hot micro-blog application that seems to polarize online users into love or hate camps. This planning process is emblamatic of the challenges – and endless opportunities – inherent in trying to remain relevant and competitive in the evolving online environment. Whether it’s Twitter or Jaiku or another application altogether, marcom professionals need to constantly evaluate if and how they should use the myriad new tools and applications emerging on the Net. Twitter is an interesting example. There is no clear consensus on the value or ideal use for the tool, but it certainly presents another channel to engage in conversations – or rather micro-conversations – with consumers, peers or friends. One of its best advantages is that it can be accessed on mobile devices. The drawback: limiting the posts to 150 words or so almost ensures a level of triviality. Can it be used as a marketing device? Should it be an extension of richer conversation on a blog or website? Is it destined to remain a novelty and glorified chat room? It’s too early to answer these questions but there have certainly been some success stories around Twitter. There’s still chatter here in Austin of how Twitter became the main communication channel for bar-hopping enthusiasts during the last SXSW festival. I know plenty of folks who use it as a global IM network. And companies like Amazon.com are making good use of the application to spread the word about sales and specials. Many individuals swear by Twitter – see posts by Robert Scoble and Steve Rubel on how they use the tool.

As a communication professional, trying to figure out the future can be both exhilirating and dismaying. I am typically in the former camp. I personally like the fact there are no obvious answers or precedents. I’d rather try to define the future than repeat the past.  

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