What have you learned so far during Social Media Week? Our next social media-themed blog post comes from Jonathan Mathias, senior account executive at Johnson King. Johnson King, our partner, is a European technology PR agency headquartered in London.
The Advancement of Twitter
By Jonathan Mathias
Since signing up to Twitter two years ago, I’m now following over 400 different accounts – something which recently led to an alarming crisis of confidence and a subsequent overhaul of how I use it.
It’s always been clear to me that Twitter would be a powerful tool, but given its ever-changing nature, the question of what you can do with it is much harder to answer. This makes it difficult to create a comprehensive Twitter strategy and has doubtlessly prevented many from investing the time needed to fully get to grips with it.
Any Google search will find you a million Twitter tips, most of which can be summed up in one sentence: “post regularly, with useful, relevant, interesting or personable content and always interact with your audience” – common sense, no? Conversely, you’ll also find a multitude of blog entries debating why anyone would use it in the first place or whether there’s any real business value in using it (which rather misses the point – whether you like it or not, millions of people are using it to communicate every second of the day).
But, aside from what to do and why, with more and more businesses and their audiences clocking-on and signing up, how to manage Twitter has become far from straight forward.
At a very basic level, you can log on to the Twitter website, see what’s going on, search, post your updates, send private messages, etc.. Depending on how often the people you’re following post updates, this will probably work just fine up to about 100 people. As you go past this figure – 200, 300, 400+ – it becomes very, very chaotic.
By logging into my account from the Twitter webpage at any one time, I’ll only see updates from the past five minutes or so. If I want to see anything that happened before five minutes ago, I’ll have to go onto page two and beyond. What about the vitally relevant tweet that was posted an hour ago? In all likelihood, I’ve missed that chance.
Yes, you can search Twitter with relevant keywords in the hope of finding conversations you may have missed – but, if it’s anything, Twitter is immediate – and not very many people can afford to sit there on it all day doing that anyway.
I’d dabbled with these in the past but until recently they seemed a little like overkill and over complicated – and, to the casual user, they are. But, if you want to develop a worthwhile presence on Twitter, you’re going to want a manageable insight into what a lot of people are saying – something which is very difficult to do from the Twitter website alone.
I’ve just gone through a very long process to configure and learn how to interact with Twitter via a popular client. This is not to say that applications are badly designed – they’re very necessarily complex, as they’re very powerful tools.
I’ve grouped the people I’m following into lists/columns (and handily added in LinkedIn and Facebook feeds), making it much easier to digest or catch-up on what’s going on at a glance.
Although most brands will have, at the very least, registered a Twitter account by now, many will be cautious users, content to wait and see just how big, useful and profitable it will be. But some brands are already electing to use more advanced tools to manage Twitter. And, given my experience, they are wise to do so.
Basically, to get the most out of Twitter, you need to be following a lot of people (and hopefully have a lot of followers) and you’re at an advantage if you use a client to manage the flow of information this generates. Twitter’s user-base growth and the incorporation of it into day-to-day business seem to be pointing towards a future where Twitter could one day become a truly ubiquitous method of communication.
What’s certain is that Twitter has evolved massively in a short time, with new features and innovative ways of using it coming to light on a daily basis. Will Twitter ever be a lean, mean, worthwhile business machine? Perhaps, but what’s sure is that if you want to be there when it does, you’ll need to put in some legwork now.