Twitter has often been thought to be nothing more than an online space in which people share an internal monologue in 140 characters, share a lot of bit.ly links or used simply to follow @StephenFry. Twitter has now entered its fifth year and is not just being used by social media whizz-kids but continuing to spark curiosity amongst the wider public (with on average, 460,000 new accounts created per week). It is also now deemed a true marketing channel in its own right and continues to shake off previous. If we were to compare, we could perhaps say Twitter is more public than Facebook, more direct than email and much easier than text message. I thought I would put together a list of top five growing uses for Twitter in order to explain its successes and how users can seize opportunity: from job-hunting, to business building, to restoring faith in your neighbourhood:n
Twitter for Good:
The unfortunate recent events in London and other UK cities being severely affected by the riots saw Twitter statistics surge, with new users increasing by 0.58%. According to web tracking service Hitwise, August 9th was a day that saw 24/7 monitoring of the riots, and subsequently saw 1 in every 170 UK Internet visits going straight to Twitter. Many people who weren’t signed up as a user were using the Twitter search tool over any other search engine. This is due to the nature of Twitter’s advanced search, allowing you to find out exactly what is happening 100 metres down the road from you, in real-time. Amidst the hectic uprising of the riots, the majority of the safety concerns on the Internet were location related and it is clear here that Twitter played a key role in easing these concerns.
An example of how Twitter was successful in enabling a constant stream of location based updates was a cyclist in Bristol who began taking Twitter requests to confirm truthful facts about the riots. Leon Piers, a 21 year old tweeting from the handle @LeonPiers cycled over 30 miles in under two days, answering over 200 questions from his smart-phone to worried Twitter users all over the city.
Twitter’s key feature is the unique hashtag feature that enables you to follow a new story or trend. Along with the automatic refresh, this allows users to whittle down an overflowing Twitter feed and curate their search. A recent example of a Twitter hashtag stimulating successful offline behaviour is the #riotcleanup hashtag, which was used to group together people around London to help restore faith in the affected London areas, in particular Clapham. Meet-ups were organised solely using Twitter with people naming a time and place and talking about the most affected areas. Shortly after, a website was created to help spread the word about these events.
People were also able to follow the events happening in their own towns by searching the name of their street + the hashtag #londonriots. As a safety measure, people could map their locations of the riot movements due to Twitter users contributing constant updates of information and alerting people in their neighbourhood of the potential danger zones.
Twitter for Breaking News:
Twitter has brought a new definition to the term ‘breaking news.’ The day of Michael Jackson’s death, many found out on Twitter (myself included). Many have admitted that it now creates a momentary flutter of panic whenever someone’s name is #trending. It is important to note that many conversations can start first on social networks. It appears that often Twitter does not just syndicate the news, but the that mainstream news articles can often be the result of conversation on Twitter.
Examples of public conversation becoming news articles are: the insensitive tweet by Kenneth Cole who took advantage of the #cairo hashtag; Ryan Giggs attempt to sue Twitter after being named on the site; the recent Twitter threats made by Duncan Bannatyne over a online stalker and the many tweets paying respect to the late Amy Winehouse by many of her high profiled music friends. Increasingly, Twitter is not just delivering the news; it is also contributing and often creating news, with many newspapers becoming reliant on these networks for stories.
An example of the force of Twitter and how online websites are struggling to break the news first is the Royal Wedding Twitter frenzy, in which people were posting 300 tweets per second with pictures, links and updates. Data specialists are now able to aggregate all tweets into very detailed news sources, creating visualizations such as this to demonstrate how conversation regarding a particular topic moves, trends and drops over time.
Twitter and Journalism:
On Twitter, each one of us contributes a personal or political opinion that enters the public domain. It is interesting to think that all Twitter users are essentially contributing to the daily round-up of news. It is important to keep information correct and concise, and get your facts straight when joining in with a public argument/topic. When contributing to the spreading and updating of news, i.e. retweeting opinions and links, it is essential to get your facts from a reliable source, as the power of one single tweet can spread in seconds and you have instantly and personally become an official news source. This recent tweet by Steve Lawson @solobasssteve sums it up: “If you tweet about the riots, you’re a de facto journo. With that in mind 1) Avoid rumour/hype 2) Check your sources 3) Check your spelling.”
Tweets are often repeated or paraphrased in mainstream media as sources of evidence or information as any public tweet can potentially add information to a news story. Twitpics are increasingly splashed across tabloid newspapers and this shows how easy it is for information to be shared across multiple media channels, and for something you may assume to be private can instantly be made public. An example of a single Twitpic being instantly splashed across all the national onlines was the Beckham’s first upload on Twitter of Harper Seven. We can see here that journalists are relying on this content that can only be sourced via these celebrity Twitter and Facebook pages.
One of the main issues of Twitter being used as an accurate news source is the way in which users are often not transparent in their identity, many bloggers and Twitter users use pseudonyms or multiple identities to spread information around the web. This is why Twitter’s verification tool is important for people (especially influencers) to mark their identity so that users are able to distinguish the real accounts amongst the multitude of bogus ones. Similarly, Google+ has also recently launched a ‘real-names policy’ in which users are given a limited time to correct their information before Google will suspend their profile. This appears to have caused bother to some bloggers, who enter networking sites with their blogger title, as they prefer to be addressed using their online persona which they have always used.
Twitter for Job Searching and Recruitment:
It takes a single tweet to engage and establish common ground with someone within your professional network. Due to Twitter’s tool of offering suggestions of ‘who to follow’ (with a refresh option if you don’t like the look the first time round), you are able to automatically detect similar people within your professional field. The more connections you make, the more you are exposing yourself to wider networks and thus more likely to stumble across opportunity. Companies are always tweeting their latest vacancies, the bonus of seeing this on Twitter is the immediacy. Twitter is also a space in which you are free to ask questions and engage with the company. You may even find a company has a separate Twitter feed dedicated to career guidance, where you can directly engage with HR teams who can answer your queries.
You can make your profile employer friendly by placing your job pitch in the Twitter biography (160 characters) and also download templates for Twitter backgrounds so that you customize your profile to make it look professional. An example of specific popular Twitter handle is @Tweetmyjobs, a very simple and free tool for people seeking jobs. The extent of how far Twitter can reach is summed up in this recent tweet: “TweetMyJOBS.com tweeted 43,828 jobs in the last 24 hours 1,806,072 in the last month. #hiring #jobs.” Users can have new openings sent to their smart-phone via Twitter and can specify the location and particular role. Twitter is a free tool enabling you to show your skills, your knowledge, your passions and your various online CV’s own website or domain name, or an aggregation of all of your portfolio work into the likes of a Tumblr page), directing your potential employers to an online archive of your present work and past successes.
Twitter for Customer Service:
We all know that waiting on the phone, being put on ‘hold’ or lining up in an ever-growing queue gives anyone a shiver when they think of customer service. This is where social media steps in, enabling people to engage with a brand on a platform they are already on, and to a person who is dedicated to answering questions on that particular channel. This is why some companies are making a name for themselves setting up specific Twitter handles to answer customer queries in a helpful and immediate way. A good example is @thetrainline who utilize their Twitter feed in order to help customers, particularly when they have had a glitch in their website or their helpline in the past. Twitter is used a convenient messaging service and in the case of transport inquiries, customers can can direct message their booking reference to the Trainline who will respond with a solution to the customers problem.
Most information about a problem sits on a company’s website, or can be found somewhere online. This is why a single tweet with a link can be more useful to the customer than a lengthy phone conversation. The community manager can tweet a link to the exact web location of the customer’s question, refer to a particular FAQ or send a specific contact number for an immediate response. This takes less time, costs less money and all in all, gives the company a positive brand image as the customer is engaging directly with a person behind the account, making the experience more direct and personable. Click here for a full info-graphic of how Twitter users are currently getting their questions answered.
Image credit: damienvanachter
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/EdelmanDigital/~3/c1FjbnCAnNA/