A Response to Patrick Kershaw

Dear Patrick Kershaw

I see that you are new to Twitter. You’ve posted two tweets from your Twitter account (@patrickkershaw1). Perhaps just one if we consider your latest tweet to be a sign-off:
[quote]”has decided twitter is a fad… and this will be his last update”.[/quote]
I know Twitter can be hard to understand for a new user, so perhaps a brief introduction would be in order?

Twitter is a place where I can chat with 1,500 friends and acquaintances, and indirectly with hundreds of thousands. If I want to address a tweet directly to another Twitter user, I type @TheirUserName somewhere in my message.

It’s a place where I can tell my friends about the great web hosting service I receive from @sitehostnz, or complain about @vodafonenz‘s roaming data charges. I can book a table at @thefallsnz, a local restaurant in Henderson, and if my @orcon web service goes offline, I can txt a message to Twitter to let them know. I can see what’s coming up tomorrow on TVNZ’s @BreakfastOnOne, I can get wine advice from @thewinevault, and follow design and new media trends with @idealogmag.

Twitter is a place where @LewisBostock can tweet “Help, I’m stranded in Auckland and need to get home” (‘home’ being 45 minutes north of Auckland), and be inundated with offers of help, lodging, and transport. It’s a place where Lewis can tweet later in the day, pledging his thanks for the generosity of Twitter followers.

For me personally, Twitter has netted several speaking engagements, and countless tidbits of wonderful advice. Just today, after landing in Sydney, I posted a comment of outrage at Vodafone’s extortionary $10/Mb data roaming charges. Minutes later I had a response from @regen suggesting I buy a pre-pay sim card, which gets me data for $2/Mb. I can post a question about the intricacies of some obtuse software development task, and receive educated, specific responses in minutes.

And yes, Twitter is a place where I can type a short message about what I had for breakfast. One of my favourite things is to post early in the morning, informing my friends as to how many times the 6 week old baby woke up in the night. They respond likewise. We call it Parent Poker. How good was your hand last night?

Yet Twitter is just a fad, according to Patrick Kershaw. It has nothing to offer small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in New Zealand. Apparently, it might be useful for corporates and celebrities, but for SMEs, “the time spent in actually using Twitter as a business tool will be a loss-making venture”. I’d like to suggest that Patrick have a chat, perhaps on Twitter, to a couple of the SMEs I listed above.

One example from many: Jayson Bryant (@thewinevault) has picked up a wonderful niche on Twitter, and is now posting a daily wine video blog, including a cameo from @JohnJCampbell (yes, of TV3’s Campbell Live). Jason estimates that 20%-25% of his sales can be directly attributed to Twitter and Facebook.

Ironically, I think Patrick will be back on Twitter in a few months. If you look back through my Twitter history, you’ll find I had the same feeling early on. Just like jogging, Twitter has an early wall that you need to break through. The term ‘conversation’ is a cliché used far too frequently in social media circles, but quite honestly, the key thing is to find a few like-minded users to connect with – perhaps friends or businesses you know through the ‘real world’ – and join the conversation.

Then you can post about what your cat had for breakfast.

Join the Conversation


  1. Nice post, and great rebuttal! Twitter for users, whether business or personal, will only ever be what they make of it – and if you make very, very little of it (as it seems Patrick Kershaw did) it won’t reward you in any way. But if you engage it can become very rewarding. And even (shock, horror) fun.

  2. It is me or does the Wine Vault TV totally copy (or at least tries to copy) Gary Vaynerchuk’s format?

    Great to see great examples though of how businesses can get value from these social networking sites

  3. Twitter is not the be all of business but has a very important role to play within the realms of Social Media. As long as one thinks of Twitter as another tool in the cabinet of media avenues then I see it remaining relevant for business.

  4. I got an opportunity to develop an iPhone app for a corporation in Utah through Twitter. I wasn’t sure about it to start with, but I’m quite happy to admit I was completely wrong. 🙂

  5. Loved the post. I prefer using twitter first then google to even find answers most of the days. Who can beat real time search and much more productive responses from the same.

    Good stuff Ben.

  6. Yeah I wrote him an email and pointed out similar things. For me Twitter allows me to meet new people w/ similar interest, ideas & passions, allows me to keep up on things like news & science and even helps some in overcoming my disabilities. It is a good place to talk about my art from time to time and start earning a little money even though I’m stuck in a bed. All in all I find twitter a very useful tool for many sides of life.

  7. Lost my RSS feed to you, RSS button top left not working in IE8 but works in FF. Just get page of raw xml(? or whatever it is) in IE8, eg.:


    blah blah blah

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