Microblogs like Twitter (or business versions like Yammer) are useful for quick customer support, a bit of marketing, listening to customers and link sharing, Byrne says. But Byrne challenged the conventional wisdom, saying Twitter is not good for having a discussion. He likened Twitter discussions to trying to have a long-distance conversation at a crowded football game from one section to another while shouting over everyone else's conversations.
Wikis, meanwhile, offer extraordinary power; make it possible for everyone to read, edit and review postings; and facilitate bottom-up communications. But wikis also are hard to organize, offer limited display/navigation options, and may require some training to maximize their value. In addition, wikis lack a controlling voice, making them dependent on the wisdom of crowds. That's why Byrne suggests designating a wiki gardener or steward to help keep things clear and on track.
And don't forget the old-school choice: discussion forums. Often disparaged in comparison to fancy new alternatives, forums remain popular and powerful. They're perfect for "many-to-many communications," Byrne says, and can be structured hierarchically. But while forums are a great solution for Q&A sessions, they're not well suited for multiple people trying to edit the same text.
Public networks like Facebook and LinkedIn can be used for marketing, recruitment, prospecting and brand enhancement. But you don't own the network or the content, Byrne points out, and companies must accept that fact to be successful.
There's not one best choice, Byrne says. The point is to find the right fit for your particular application, budget, location, etc. In addition, you can use multiple tools for a single purpose or multiple purposes.