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Posts tagged ‘Twitter’

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Enough about Twitter already

Well, after this post I promise…

It is all getting a bit silly, but I reckon I’ve got one more post in me.

Firstly, Josh pointed out to me the results of this poll of government communicators:

GCN users who twitter
GCN users who twitter

Before I rant, a caveats. This is a voodoo poll – it’s a self selecting sample of whoever can be bothered to actually vote on a poll on the GCN website.

But it does upset me that 64% can’t see the point of twitter.  It’s a way of directly interacting with an intelligent and engaged audience (they’ve all chosen to follow you so are interested in what you have to say). And more importantly if you have any proactive work to do it tells you what journalists are working on and what you might be able to pitch to them.

Those 64% really need to learn why it’s useful. If their ministers or chief executives are tweeting, then they need to be too.

Secondly, I felt the need to respond to Laurie’s post about twitter.

So I get a little annoyed, now that Twitter is going crazily mainstream, being used by everyone from Oprah to the CDC, when people misunderstand what Twitter is, and what it’s for. Some of them are aggravatingly stupid ideas, and yet are blithely echoed around the mediasphere. So here’s my top ten things that Twitter is not.

I’m not sure we can be so prescriptive about what twitter is and what it’s for. It’s many different things to many different people.

For some people it does work well as the new telegram, for others it is a great way to interact with celebrities. This is no bad thing.

I guess what Laurie is probably grasping at is that it’s stupid to try and define twitter (in the way that the media simply loves to do). But trying to list what it isn’t probably falls into the same trap.

That may not be what twitter is for you – but it’s lots of things for lots of people.

And that’s probably that for twitter for a while – I’m getting boring.

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Social Media and Political Campaigning

Hazel Blears’ Observer piece this morning makes some strong arguments about the need for the labour party to actually engage with voters. A lot of what she says is eerily similar to John Major’s (undeniable effective) soapbox strategy in the 1992 general election.

I think she picks up on the tendency for organisations (I include private companies in this as well) to see social networking as ‘the solution’. She is clearly not impressed by Gordon Brown’s video message, coining the fantastic phrase “YouTube if you want to”.

YouTube is not ‘the answer’. Social media is the means not the end.

But she misses the point – Blears calls for politicians to spend more time actually engaging with people, hearing their anger. Used correctly, social media offers a fantastic way to do this. Gordon Brown’s problem is not that he’s using social media, it’s that he’s trying to use it in ‘old media’ ways.

That YouTube video is simply a broadcast, something politicians have been doing ever since they invented the radio. Comments have been turn off – it’s about as disengaged as you can possibly get.

A lot of politicians are getting it – where Twitter, Facebook and blogging work well it’s where the publisher engages with other users. People like Tom Harris get this. He interacts with his commentators and gets into the debate on twitter. He isn’t looking at the web as another tool to broadcast but as yet another way to meet with, listen to and engage with voters.

I think the biggest sign that he gets it is that he knows it’s just one of the many methods he needs to be using. He held a town hall meeting in his constituency to listen to his electorate in person.

Everyone looks at Obama’s election victory and get excited about social media – but it wasn’t the web wot won it for Obama – it was engaging with the electorate. Online was the right tool for certain circumstances, but it isn’t a panacea that will solve everything and miraculously win elections.

So Hazel Blears – you’re right, politicians do need to get on their soapbox and engage with the public. But don’t rule out doing that online.

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#amazonfail and the importance of twitter to PR

Watching Twitter go mad over Amazon’s adult content ‘glitch’ over the weekend really highlighted the important role Twitter can play for PRs and showed why it really can have a business model.

Not long ago Laurie pointed me to www.howtousetwitterformarketingandpr.com – I felt then that that website was fighting a losing battle, and now I’m certain of it.

Previously the main way to monitor your reputation online was to see if people were blogging about you, or posting in forums about you. Both of these required effort from teh part of the contributer (Cf. the amount of updates this blog has had).

You blog or comment about a company if the service was really really bad, or really really good.

This is generally useless to companies. But on twitter, it’s different.

Twitter offers companies a powerful way to monitor their reputation. People will twitter about anything, whether it’s what they had for breakfast, which side they dress and how Pizza Hut didn’t quite deliver on time. You might just say that you had a really friendly pizza guy, or your phone number porting was a bit of a faf (hattip G). If you can monitor this in real time you can spot problems quickly and react to them before they become major crises.

In Amazon’s case I’m willing to accept cock-up over conspiracy – but for an online specialist they needed to react quicker then they did. If they’d been monitoring twitter properly they’d have spotted the problem within minutes of it becoming an issue, got to the bottom of it, and put out a statement to end it.

Amazon also learned how quickly bad reputation can travel through twitter – things go viral far quicker then they ever did through email.

This is also where Twitter has a business model – The Register (bless it’s soul) seems convinced that web 2.0 business models must be about advertising. But twitter has worked out there’s not much money to be made by on screen advertising – what they can offer is premium services to companies who will be willing to pay lots per month for this. This can be done by keeping the core service free to consumers (who won’t care about a limit of 100 API calls an hour for example).

#Amazonfail has probably opened a lot of peoples eyes both to the power of twitter, the risks it poses for organisations but most importantly the fantastic opportunities it now opens.

(Lets see if I can keep this up a little more regularly now).