Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Why has Twitter Not Saved a Life Yet?

Take one part simple communication application, two parts custom functions, and a dash of it fits in your pocket, and you get one of the most globally influential technologies ever created. ... and we use it to spread fluff & hate.

Back in 2010, like many others, I was introduced to the new social craze that was Twitter. I created an account and emailed out to my @rossbartlett Twitter id to some friends and within minutes I had half a dozen followers, and I followed some of my friends and some celebrities. It was fast and easy. Almost no learning curve.

I recall Tom Hanks was my first celebrity to follow, and I enjoyed the inside look at some of his tweets as he worked on Toy Story 3.

This was fantastic! I thought we had come up with something that would unite people and better society by bringing a strength in numbers voice to injustices and outrage in the world. Not so!

It didn't take very long before one of my contacts tweeted an opinion that was not appreciated by some in my circle of followers. A rapid fire series of tweets shot through my twitter feed. Filled with personal attacks that reminded me of behaviour usually reserved for those unstable drivers behind the wheel in rush hour traffic.

I knew these people. They didn't behave this way. They were reasonable individuals, with families, steady jobs. You know the type.

The up shot of all this ways one colleague tweeting out, "Have a nice life @chris--------" presumably terminating a multi-year relationship without a face to face. Just a less than 140 character dismissal. A month later I heard they had patched things up.

I stopped using Twitter for myself within a week,
but I seem to be in the minority.

Hoss Gifford, a technology guru and strategist wrote a fantastic article The Problem with Twitter ( where he talks about many issues surrounding Twitter and its ability to encourage a Mob Mentality when it comes to global usage of the technology. I encourage a read.

What I find alarming is the fact that current main stream media seems to be fanning the flames when it comes to this mob mentality. Just as something starts to "Go Viral" the media gives the mob a boost when they announce or publish "What's Trending". Those without anything better to do hit that retweet button and the mob merry-go-round continues.

This on-line mob only represents a small number of those seeing the tweet. So why does an institution, presumably as old and wise as the fourth estate, encourage this practise. It's as if the media thinks promoting hecklers is a good idea.

Does the problem stem from the ignorance or desperation of  an industry going through wholesale changes? Perhaps, but is there not a better use for this technology. I'm hoping it evolves into something better.

Don't let the Twitter Mob ruin it for the rest of us.

As the Twitter using community matures we see celebrities publicly announcing that they are ignoring their Twitter accounts due to proliferation of hate. Director Joss Whedon quit all together. Deleting his Twitter account on Monday.

Users are far more guarded as to what they tweet and who they follow. And increased use of hashtag publishing and searches allows for more selective reading by users. All moving in a positive direction.

My advice to small business and start ups, is to use your business Twitter account as an announcement tool specific to your business mandate. Don't clutter it with personal content. A picture of your weekend adventure has no place within your businesses Twitter feed.

Search and understand all hashtags that relate to your business. Don't over use hashtags. Three per posting is a reasonable limit.

Always include a link back to relevant content within your site. It's always a good idea to provide a path to additional information or rewarding content whenever you post anything.

Follow your suppliers and business allies. Support their tweets. Hopefully they will support your content with retweets, likes, and comments.

Used correctly, Twitter can be one of the most cost effective
marketing tools a business can have at their disposal. 

As part of my blogging effort, I'm going back on Twitter on a personal level. @Ross14Bartlett was the best ID I could find. Let's see if I can make it past a week this time.

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