Wednesday, 24 July 2013

5 things I have learnt from Twitter

When I first used Twitter, said to one of my friends that I just didn't quite get it.  I didn't understand what it was, what it was for or even why it exists.  I knew I should probably be aware of it and using it, as it's kind of my job to keep abreast of such things - but I didn't understand it.

My friend pointed out that if I didn't get it, it was because I was over-thinking it.  I was looking for a specific purpose where there is none. There is nothing more to get than if it were millions of people stood in a very large pub, nattering away about anything and everything.   That is it's purpose.

After that revelation it made a bit more sense to me and I started tweeting nonsense too, and finally got in to it and understood that there is nothing to really understand about it, but that it is a very valuable, if massively complex and muddled, source of information.

Here are five things I have learnt from Twitter.

1)  Celebrities are people too..

OK,  not the most amazing revelation but it's sometimes easy to forget. Celebrities are actually just normal people, the same as anyone else, and as such they're likely to say dumb stuff if they're  in the wrong mood. If people have a go at them, they might have a go back.  They might feel chatty, they might not. Also, just because they ARE real people, it doesn't mean they'll speak to you! Don't be disappointed if you reply to a celeb's tweet and they don't respond.  Depending on who it is, they may get thousands of replies to a single tweet. Chances are they won't even see yours.

That said, I have had proper twitter conversations with two of the cast of Red Dwarf, Sarah Beeny (off of property programs) and I may have had a conversation, sort of, with Simon Pegg. Possibly. 


A few minutes later he posted 


Coincidence?  Who knows. 



2) Brands love Twitter. 

Brands like it when you re-tweet their stuff - it's basically free advertising for them.  Some, particularly smaller brands, will follow you back, boosting  your readership and increasing the chances that they will re-tweet something that you say.   Some brands have customer support accounts on Twitter, some post random funny stuff, and some just use it for tweeting updates and news.

3) Great source for specific news

If there's a current event, Twitter Search acts like a continuous feed of news and comments about that event.  Obviously there's a certain level of inaccuracy, and you have to be prepared for a large amount of nonsense and probably abusive language, but it's a good way to get a lot of people's views and opinions on something that is current.

4) Interesting to interact with TV programs.  

Some presenters, and indeed live TV shows, love to interact with their viewers via Twitter.  It's fairly common for presenters to be tweeting live during the broadcast of their pre-recorded shows, and will answer questions relating to the show (or sometimes not relating to it at all - "where did you get those shoes" or similar..)    Many shows now show a #something at the beginning of the show so that you know what to search for, or so you can hashtag your tweets if they're relevant to that show.

5) The power of Twitter. 


Twitter has power.  Because of the sheer amount of people reading it, it only takes 140 characters with the right message, if something goes viral suddenly a reasonable percentage of the population of the entire planet know about it.

On Twitter, I've seen missing people found, lives saved, revolutions started and plane crashes reported in real-time.  An idle tweet by an A-list celebrity about buying a specific brand of t-shirt can take an entire website offline by the traffic it generates.  I've even seen smart bird-cages that tweet when their water levels are low.

So there we go - If you're still not sure what Twitter is for - it's for everything..  as long as you can fit it in 140 characters.

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