Good Communication is Relevant Communication

(which is why I struggle with Twitter)

One of my colleagues retweeted a link from a Wired article earlier this week and, amongst the trivial white noise that dominates my TweetDeck pop-ups, I somehow spotted it.  Which, in itself, is a minor miracle.  The fact is, finding a relevant tweet is akin to the proverbial needle in a haystack.

I blogged here a few weeks ago about what I called email ‘slush’ – referring to the endemic email culture (in many organisations) of mindlessly cc-ing far too many people and cluttering up inboxes as a result.  Twitter is way, way worse.  Or is it?

First of all, I have to come clean and admit I am just not cut out for Twitter.  I’m sure proper Twitter users set up all kinds of filters so they are protected from the invasion of trivia.  I’m a late adopter, am following and being followed by a handful of colleagues and ex-colleagues, and have thrown in a sprinkling of sporting celebs who I’m vaguely interested in.  But already, in my short and limited exposure to the medium, I am constantly distracted by rubbish appearing on my screen, tempting me to drop what I’m doing and find out more.

Email abuse is, in some ways, worse, because once it’s in your inbox, it demands attention.  Delete, read, archive, whatever.  You have to make a choice.  (yes, I know clever  techie people set up filters to auto-delete stuff, but I’m just your average luddite).  But even though email slush is a major inconvenience, it is fixable by instilling sensible email policies within a business and engendering a culture of only bother people with relevant content.

So what is relevant content?  I’d say it’s information intended for your consumption and, better yet, requiring some response from you.  Email, if used responsibly, should be that targeted.  Twitter, with the best will in the world, isn’t.

The Wired article – or rather the Sysomos research it refers to – showed just how wasteful most Tweeting really is.  More than 70% of tweets never get any kind of reaction.  Of the remainder, just 6% get re-tweeted. Just 23% of messages get an @reply, and 85% of replied to messages get just one reply.

Of course, there is plenty of evidence to show Twitter demonstrating real, tangible business value in all sorts of different scenarios.  But one thing it isn’t is a useful medium for effective communication.  Give me email any day ….