Changes to Twitter? Isn't it a good thing to re-think how may be using it and how you are communicating?
by Dan Slee
Twitter is not the last word in digital communications and maybe it’s about time you remembered that.
There’s been a lot written just lately about how Twitter is changing.
If you’ve missed it, the way you are presented with tweets is going to change. Gone will go the timeline of most recent first. In comes a Facebook-style algorithm of things they think you’ll like first. It may be optional when first introduced. The unique 140-character limit may also go too.
Of course, being Twitter, there was a meltdown on Twitter and a hashtag #TwitterRIP.
It may be the end of Twitter. It may just evolve as Facebook has done.
But all this talk of change poses you three questions.
- Where else can I now get what I get from Twitter?
- As the ground shifts beneath our feet should we really be surprised?
- Do I even care?
Do you care? Many people do. If you have been using the platform you will. If you won't it won't trouble you. But if you aren't a bit interested in how all this will affect how you do your job, that troubles me.
Once-great platforms like Friends Reunited, AOL or MySpace have withered. Why should Twitter be any different? Besides, as broadcaster and historian Dan Snow wrote in The Guardian, if Twitter didn’t exist someone would have to invent it.
What makes this an important question to think on for UK public sector comms people is that Twitter has become hugely important. It’s precisely that the most recent tweet gets shown first that makes it useful to it. Realtime matters. What was first truly shown during the riots of 2011 was confirmed yet again this year by flooding.
But hold on. Maybe we got lazy. Maybe we just thought that Twitter was everything. So, maybe it’s actually quite healthy to rethink that.
What can do what Twitter does?
Thinking about LinkedIn. Sharing a useful link to help you with your work was one thing Twitter was brilliant at. But more and more when gathering links for comms2point0 it’s been to LinkedIn that I’ve been turning. What was once an ecosystem for grey people is now a thriving network.
Thinking about blogging. Again, LinkedIn scores well. Blogging functionality was introduced in early 2014 and engagement rates are good. Anecdotally, people are far more likely to comment and share on a post on LinkedIn than in on a blogging platform.
Thinking about email. With a decent list and decent content your organisation can duck below shifts in platform changes. Almost everyone has an email address. A cinderella platform it is quietly being effective for many places. Ask Amazon.
Thinking about other platforms. As social media grows and evolves an ecosystem of channels for sub-groups has developed. WhatsApp. Instagram. Snapchat. It means your job has got harder to understand how each works. Know enough to know when it is relevant for what you are trying to do.
Thinking about Facebook. If you want Facebook you can have Facebook. Why would you want Twitter? For organisations without a budget to advertise and reach key demographics will continue to struggle.
Thinking about serendipity. Of course, one of the great things about Twitter was the stumbling across something a friend had just shared that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It’s hard to see how this won’t be affected. Email bulletins like Nieman Lab, Feverbee or econsultancy do that for me. You’ve probably got some good ones too.
Thinking about how Twitter used to be. Back in 2008 it was an amazing place where many people were connecting for the first time. Events were organised through it and friendships grew. Much of my Facebook timeline is now those original Twitter people I’m connected to.
It’s foolish to think that disruption and change won’t stop. It will. Maybe these Twitter chances will be seismic. Maybe they won’t. But as Robert Phillips writes in ‘Trust Me: PR is Dead’ to embrace chaos is one of the most important things a 21st century comms person needs to do. So, who cares? Embrace it.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.