Happy birthday Twitter. The social network remains a work in progress but is adored by hardcore users.
Twitter is 10. The business continues to face two significant challenges: growing its user base beyond 320 million users, and building a sustainable business model.
The platform is adored by users for its accessibility, the brevity of its 140 character messages, and the ease of building networks.
If you haven’t used Twitter yet here are 10 reasons why you really should.
#1 Breaking news stories
Newsrooms keep watch over Twitter for a concentration of triggers, typically swear words, from a single location. You can jump on Tweetdeck and do the same. In time the frequency of content will trigger a trending topic. When a news story breaks you no longer need to wait for reports from traditional media. You can find the sources yourself via the trending topics and Twitter users in the vicinity of the story.
#2 Getting to know you
Smart sales people describe Twitter as a secret weapon. You can access anyone’s last 3,000 Tweets via the public feed, giving you a virtual biography of their life. It characterises attitudes and behaviour. It describes interests and travel. It tells you about work and play. My last few hundred tweets tell the story of working at Ketchum, client work, running and Northumberland.
#3 Tell me a story
Organisations are using Twitter as a media and network to share branded content. Brands, councils, media and schools are all sharing content in a bid to connect with their audiences, or publics. They are sharing text updates, images, video and links. Brave organisations are going further and using Twitter to listen to @mentions and proactively search, subsequently engaging in a conversation. Few do it well, in a sustained way.
#4 Asking for help
There’s a beautiful thing about human nature that people want to help each other. It’s also a wonderful part of the culture of Twitter. Google will find you information but you’ll need to dig around websites for content and to fact check. Your network or the hashtag #asktwitter will frequently connect you directly with people to help you out. It has helped me find restaurants, hacks, how-tos, spare parts, and tickets.
#5 Come fly with me
Twitter has become an international organisation. Your networks can act as your guide to the world when you travel. It’ll help you navigate, meet new people, connect you to interesting things, and help you explore new places. Change your location in your biography as you travel, monitor local trending topics, and seek out location hashtags.
#6 Name and shame bad behaviour
Twitter is thought provoking and informative; it’s humorous and irreverent. Occasionally it’s bad tempered and snarky. It can be a daunting place for a newbie. My tip is to persevere. The benefits outweigh bad behaviour. Use the community management tools to mute, block and report. Twitter’s Trust and Confidence team acts on these signals.
#7 Making friends and influencing people
Here’s a top tip for anyone looking for a job. Follow the people you’d like to work with and the organisations where you’d like to work. Lists are a great way to segment Twitter accounts by company or market. Monitor the type of dialogue they’re involved in. In time, as you build up confidence, engage in conversation. Avoid being heavy handed, be thoughtful and polite. In time you’ll build a relationship and be front of mind. That’s social media.
#8 Customer service
There’s a very simple reason that the travel and hospitality business is so active on Twitter. Poor service is spotlighted noisily day-in day-out on the platform. Any gap between an individual’s experience of a product or services and how these are being sold will result in a conversation on Twitter. Twitter users bitch about being let down. It’s cathartic but it is also forcing organisations to provide better service.
#9 Banter and conversation
There’s a frequently a backchannel on Twitter to any real life conversation or event. Groups of like minded people use Twitter to share ideas, news and gossip. Event organisers use this behaviour to promote events, increase engagement and amplify conversation. Twitter conversations, driven by a hashtag, are a way to participate in a talk on a particular topic.
#10 Relationships offline and online
Twitter is a mirror of real life. Relationship on the platform reflect offline relations, although conversations are typically more direct. Conversations move back and forth between online and offline. Twitter relationship typically follow a cycle of following, liking and engagement via @mention. Direct messages provide a useful backchannel.
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