I would guess at least 50 percent of the websites and blogs I come across feature a widget displaying a real-time Twitter feed. I think this is a mistake and I strongly caution my clients against doing it. Here’s why.

Done correctly, Twitter is lively, personal and human.  If you display your Twitter feed on your website, you’re displaying one side of a two-sided conversation. It’s conversation out of context. Why would you do this? What possible value could this create?

A couple years ago, a friend asked me to review his website. When I went to his landing page the thing that hit you right in the face was the word “PORNOGRAPHY” in the Twitter stream. In context, he was making a funny comment in response to a friend. On a website it sends the wrong message.

Everything communicates. Everything you say, and everything you don’t say, reflects on your brand. “LOL!!!! You rock Tony!” and “Delayed in Dallas for the second time this week” are appropriate for a Twitter stream but is that the right business communications you want to display on your company website?

Of course if your Twitter stream is simply company links and press releases you’re safe. But you’re also probably not too successful on Twitter.

The only possible value there could be is some symbol of social validation, like “Hey everybody, look at us! We’re on Twitter.” That just seems kind of desperate.  If you provide value on your blog or website, why wouldn’t a person want to follow your social stream any way?

Meanwhile, this widget is taking up valuable real estate that could be better used to create a call to action, promote a product or service, or offer something legitimately helpful.

I know there are a lot of Twitter-on-the-webpage-lovers out there that are going to tee-off on me today so hit me with your best shot! WHat do you think?

Illustration courtesy of www.toothpastefordinner.com

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