Saturday 17 October 2009

I’m now on Twitter!

A few weeks ago I decided to join Twitter. Nothing particularly unusual about that you might think, but considering that when I first started this blog, I wrote a post about how I thought Twitter was a pointless waste of time, it’s a bit of a turnaround for me.

Over the last few months I’ve slowly begun to change my opinions, and I’ve started to see that Twitter does have many potential good points.

I think the original reason that I wasn’t keen on Twitter was that I couldn’t understand the use or value of it. You can only post messages of no more than 140 characters. What can you say in such a small amount of space?

Secondly, it appeared to be the equivalent of the Facebook updates you receive from people, where they post their own comments, thoughts and updates on what they’re currently doing.

Of course I like keeping up to date with what my friends are doing, that’s one of the good things about Facebook - but I’m not interested in being constantly bombarded with boring, banal comments from people who have nothing of real interest to say. I assumed that Twitter would be exactly like this with millions of people posting irrelevant comments.

My opinions slowly began to change during this year’s Iranian elections. There were huge protests directed against incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad following his controversial election victory.

During the protests against the election results, many people used Twitter as a way of communicating to the outside world what was happening on the streets of Tehran. It also allowed demonstrators to communicate and organise themselves.

This seemed a really important development as the Iranian authorities had censored many traditional media outlets. Foreign journalists were unable to find out everything that was happening on street level, but by following the tweet commentary and updates from protesters the rest of the world was able to have a better idea of what was going on.

Despite this I was still reluctant to join up, as I thought I already have my blog, in which I can communicate my thoughts and opinions to the world. Surely blogging is better than Tweeting as you can go into far more detail about stuff.

The reason I started my blog, was that as a journalism student it was important to start writing on a regular basis and have an ‘online presence’. I was told it was all about promoting yourself and your work.

I'm always hearing about how Twitter and blogging are is becoming important tools for journalists and freelance writers to promote their work and themselves as ‘brands’.

I’m beginning to understand this. You have a huge amount of celebrities promoting themselves as brands. The actor Stephen Fry has the most number of followers in the UK, and The Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah Brown is also a big twitterer.

But it’s not just individuals who recognise the value of promoting themselves in short soundbites. Many businesses are seeing that Twitter offers new ways of marketing and communicating with consumers.

In terms of advertising, there was at time when we had to sit through and watch adverts between tv programmes or listen to them on radio. Nowadays we can fast forward the add breaks if we’re not interested. Email adverts that come into our email accounts can be deleted as spam.

The thing with Twitter is that as a consumer we can make a choice as to whether we want to receive messages from a particular company or business. We can also communicate directly back to that company in the form of our own tweets. It’s now more of a two way process.

What I’ve realised is that by being on Twitter I don’t need to post loads of messages everyday if I don’t want to, but what I can do is pick particular individuals, organisations, and publishers to keep up to date on news, gossip, promotions and general networking with different communities.

Already this week, I had my first Twitter follower, a certain Krishnan Guru-Murthy from Channel 4 news! I thought this was a major coup after I decided to follow him, but I soon realised that he’s already following another 1500 people!

So far he tweets about what he’s doing on a daily basis, but also on news stories of the day, political gossip, what’s happening on the show that evening. Seeing as I’m interested in politics, it’s a way of being nosey and finding out little bits of info you might not always hear in a news bulletin or 30 minute programme.

I finally decided about a month ago that Twitter was something that I should at least make the effort to use more, but if I’m being honest, after creating a profile I couldn’t quite think of how or why I was going to use it.

After stumbling across a few other blogs, in which people had attached their own Twitter updates, it occurred to me that I could add Twitter to my blog as well.

During those days when I haven’t written a post, it would be good to have a couple of updated tweets giving my various thoughts and opinions. I can now see that it’s a good way of enhancing my current blog with more regular and shorter updates! Hopefully it will help to push and promote my blog further.

I don’t know what the future holds for Twitter, I read that it’s currently now valued at $1 Billions dollars, but it’s yet to start making a profit!

We'll have to see if it’s just another Internet fad, or whether it's now an essential marketing tool for businesses and individuals. I’ll stick with it as a way of pushing my blog, and putting more of my thoughts and opinions out there into the world.

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