Twitter has changed its spots

Enrique Dans
Jun 8, 2014 · 3 min read

My column this week in Spain’s leading financial daily Expansión is called “Twitter: ambient intelligence” (pdf in Spanish), and tries to explain to what extent Twitter, over the course of its short life, has changed its spots: what started out as simply a means to know what your friends were up to, has matured into a sophisticated information analysis tool.

Today, company directors need to have a Twitter account. Not simply as a means to develop their personal brand, which unless the shareholders insist on it, is a personal decision; but as a way of keeping abreast of what is going on in their industry or sector, as well as to be part of the community of people that affect their company or organization, and to be able to manage information.

In other words, Twitter has now become a completely different animal from the one it started out as. Nevertheless, many company directors still consider it “kids’ stuff”. In reality, as the demographics show, its main demographic was always the thirtysomething bracket.

To understand the Twitter of today means taking a very different approach to it: publishing things on is still important, after all we are still what we say and share, but for most people in business it is now above all a way of accessing information. A director who is not on Twitter is one who takes longer to find out what is going on in his or her sector, and will also be less aware of the environment his or her company operates in, and thus less able to understand what a tool like Twitter can do to improve customer relations. Environment information is a very important variable, and a part of any company’s overall information strategy.

Below, the full text:

To see Twitter as simply another of the so-called new technologies makes little sense: it’s been around now since 2006. Neither should we associate it particularly with young people: the average age of a typical Twitter user is between 30 and 40.

Twitter has undergone a radical change over the last eight years: to begin with, the question it asked you was, “What are you doing?” This led many users to share trivial aspects of their lives. But a few years ago, Twitter changed that question to, “What’s going on?” and with it, a radical shift in use.

Today, Twitter is a tool that every director should consider essential, allowing him or her to follow industry or sector trends, something that can not only provide a key competitive edge, but also flattens the world, making it easier to talk to people that normally wouldn’t even say hello to us.

While many people continue to see Twitter as something trivial, a way of knowing what their friends are up to, the reality is that it has become one of the best ways to keep our finger on the pulse, to analyze our brand, to interact with customers, and to spot the trends that will change our industry. And of course it is a way of managing our personal brand. We define our interests on the basis of who follows us, and we are what we share.

Twitter is what the accounts we follow can offer us. If you follow people who talk nonsense, then Twitter for you will be nonsense. If you follow relevant accounts, then Twitter will become a key part of your information diet: a powerful ambient intelligence tool.

(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at since 2003)

    Enrique Dans

    Written by

    Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at

    Enrique Dans

    On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at since 2003)

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