Twitter unloved in Europe? Bad research from Forbes more like

A Forbes magazine intern reports that “Twitter is Not Loved in Europe“:

Despite Twitter’s success in the U.S., the three-year-old company’s service hasn’t caught on in Europe. According to Twitter’s search tool, Twitter Scan, there is one account under Tesco, the U.K.’s largest retailer, but it has only one outside comment so far. The same goes for financial services firm HSBC, which has 18 followers but no status updates. Most European companies think Twitter is a time waster, and many haven’t even heard of the service. British Telecom says it doesn’t have a Twitter account and doesn’t plan to open one. A spokeswoman for energy firm Total says that Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie has no idea what Twitter is. Nestle’s communications manager says using Twitter “just never came up within the group strategy.” In general, experts say Europeans don’t latch on to new social networking technologies as quickly as Americans.

This bizarre attack on European companies seems to ignore a few things. For starters, Twitter was going just fine in Europe until they cut the SMS service, unlike in the US where it remains. But that hasn’t stopped it. We now have celebs galore on Twitter in the UK at least, and some are even conspiring to bring the masses on board. Meawhile, we like Twitter so much in Europe that we are creating our own versions. Just Ask Shoutem in Croatia and Blip in Poland.

How’s about this? We hate Twitter so much in Europe, a global Twitter Meetup is being organised direct from London. Yeah, we so don’t love Twitter!

In a blog post Loic Le Meur says: “I don’t think most european companies dislike Twitter that much, they just do not get the realtime web yet, give them some time.” Quite – it’s not unlike where blogging was a few years ago. But Twitter travels a lot faster than blogs.

And what of the article? They can’t seem to make up their minds if we get it or not.

Loic re-tweets the Forbes writer, Melissa Bounoua (@misspress on Twitter) , who says her initial title was less controversial: “RT @misspress: @loic you’re totally right Loic. My Forbes editor changed my title which was: “How to twitter for European CEOs”

A couple of hours later the title was changed to “Why Europe’s CEOs Should Twitter”. Change of heart Forbes?

As for big companies not using Twitter: Well, the charge is ridiculously out of context. This article is like asking a US company why they weren’t using SMS to communicate with customers 5, or even 10, years ago. Because you can bet European companies were, and US firms almost definitely weren’t.

UPDATE: A comment by Nicole Simon (below) is worth repeating: “I have a list of over 130 german politicians twittering (and they are just beginning) as well as over 130 PR people, major german magazines have adapted twitter (with huge followership) … and that is just in the last few months. Btw this weekend there is even a dedicated microblogging conference in Hamburg.”