This is a guest post by A guest post by Lindsay McLoughlin from Proofed by Linds.
What’s within hand’s reach and on the other side of the world at the same time? What leads and follows at the same time? What creates “noise” but is quiet at the same time?
… The answer, of course, is Twitter.
Twitter is now part of the standard social media scene with over 500 million active users generating over 340 millon “tweets” every day. It’s the “text” or SMS of the internet. With the arrival of the smartphone, Twitter had a natural mattress from which users could social network to their hearts’ content, pumping out 140 character messages about absolutely anything under the sun.
I was mystified by Twitter when I first tried it out; I scurried back to Facebook where my friends lived. I went back a while later for another look and, after a while, I found I was interacting online in a different way, “tweeting” with people I would never have met, and experiencing life’s news and stories in ways that I had not anticipated.
Let me share a few Twitter anecdotes…
- The Olympic flame came through Henley on Thames earlier this year. I followed it on Twitter, through the eyes of people within touching distance of the events as they unfolded. They tweeted and retweeted photos, messages, one-liners and quips about what they were experiencing. The warmth and excitement were unmistakable. I was getting a better “view” of the event online – and, um, the streaker who got in the way – than the local journalist did!
- I noticed a retweet one Saturday morning from a lady who had popped into an independent coffee shop in London at 8.55am. Her request for a cup of coffee had been rebuffed, with the suggestion that she return five minutes later when the shop would be open. All of this had been communicated within 140 characters, with the additional comment that she was off to Starbucks! I was the 68th person to receive this tweet by 9.05am that morning; needless to say, I retweeted it too!
- A tweet came through around 6.00pm from someone who had found a wallet on London’s Central Line belonging to a Mr So-and-So. The message was retweeted a number of times before one came back a short while later to say that Mr So-and-So and his wallet had been reunited.
These three short stories illustrate the immediacy and speed of Twitter. For users of the smartphone, Twitter is within hand’s reach, having a local and international impact, giving users the tools to start, lead and follow stories simultaneously.
Take the lady in the coffee shop: she was hot on the ‘phone, tweeting about her negative experience, when it could so easily have been avoided by an invitation to sit down while her coffee was prepared. Who knows who and where her followers were, but they joined in. All of this, of course, was done quietly and privately by the potential customer, creating a “noise” about the coffee shop that took on a “tweeting” life of its own.
These aren’t just stories that happen to other businesses. There is a sobering message to businesses operating in today’s world: ignore social media at your peril.
Businesses that disregard Twitter miss out on quick and simple connections with their greatest fans – or harshest critics. Think that 500 million active users have got a point?
Have you experienced a business getting it totally right on Twitter? Or totally wrong? Share the glory or the horror!