Friday, 27 July 2012

Twitter: Your flexible friend (well, Social Network)

I was asked today what I use Twitter for, and that got me thinking...

Over the course of the last few years that I have been an active Twitter user I've had more than a few discussions with friends and family about its merits, often in response to a comment such as "why would I want to know when you brush your teeth?" or suchlike - to which I've had to extol the virtues of the platform and try and explain that Twitter is what you make of it.  You create your own experience based on who you follow and what you say, and it is fast becoming my default choice for killing time and exploring the digital.

So what do I use it for?  Well, a bit of everything - keeping up with industry news and trends; sharing news and info with friends and family; checking up on news and travel alerts; a bit of inane celebrity watching; keeping an eye on client and competitor activity; and of course smirking at the odd cat gif.

As the London 2012 Olympic Games kicks off, we will no doubt see a slew of stats about the amount of tweeting taking place - no doubt surpassing the 15,000+ tweets per second during Spain's Euro 2012 win (there are apparently over 2,000 past/present Olympians that tweet!).  You will also be hard pushed to find a digital destination that doesn't support sharing via Twitter, indicative of the fact that it has become the de facto tool for sharing (and discovering) digital content.

And is is also becoming the Marketers go-to channel with branded hashtags popping up all over over the place.  As with any new marketing channel there some pretty good executions as well as some pretty poor ones, as is always the case with bandwagons being jumped on - a few people always fall over the side...

Of course with any communication medium that has such a large number of users, there is the need to take care.  From a Marketer's perspective, things can easily go awry as we often see with poorly considered Facebook campaigns (some good points that reach beyond Facebook in this blog by Carat: http://www.carat.co.uk/blog/five-learnings-from-the-femfresh-facebook-debacle/), and for your average-Joe it has potentially more serious ramifications as the Paul Chambers #twitterjoketrial highlighted.  Fortunately common sense prevailed and Paul was acquitted on appeal, but the whole fiasco serves as a very real reminder of the strength, and risks, of such a publicly accessible and 'open' Social Network like Twitter.


Twitter's strength is in it's simplicity and the ease with which you can both share and discover.  As I said at the start of this blog, you can use it and get out of it what you want.  It will no doubt evolve, and I am sure in such a way as to better support an advertising-based revenue model.  But I will certainly continue to use it - for enjoyment, information and work - as I am sure many millions and millions of others will too.

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