Talk to me; the effective use of Twitter for those in the public-eye.

In recent days, it seems Rupert Murdoch @rupertmurdoch has decided to dip his toe into the waters of the Twitter high-seas.  Now, while, to his credit he has started off better than most politicians, media hacks, corporations, et al, it seems he still has not quite grasped the nature of the beast – if one wants to use Twitter to spread a message then they have to realise that it is fundamentally a bilateral conversation.  Such nuggets as,

I LOVE the film “we bought a zoo”, a great family movie. Very proud of fox team who made this great film.

are unlikely to pass the average user’s inbuilt advertising filter.

Other very high profile users also appear to have missed the point, for example: @BarackObama does not tweet back to anyone at all, as far as I can see; the profile for our beloved Deputy Prime Minister, @nick_clegg, appears similarly bereft of replies; even an account that I would have expected to be conversing with their fan-base, @coldplay, has the air of a preacher on the pulpit.  I posit that to use Twitter merely as a means of disseminating links to other content is a missed opportunity and for those with an image to protect, possibly damaging.

It is not hard to find examples of high-profile people or organisations that have indeed embraced the true nature of Twitter – conversation!  The most obvious example that comes to mind is @johnprescott.  It is not by luck that his tweet,

Ok Twitter. #murdochsdeletedtweets Go!

rapidly started a deluge of people ripping-the-pish out of Mr Murdoch.  The difference between these two use-cases?  John Prescott has obviously realised that there are real people on the other side of @ addresses and will talk to them, frequently.

The list of folk that have got into the spirit is indeed extensive, including such gems as  @charltonbrooker (Charlie Brooker), @EricPickles, and the wonderfully eccentric @jonsnowC4.  Celebrity chefs have got the idea with people like @jamieoliver and @Nigella_Lawson frequently replying to recipe queries.  Even @Ed_Milliband seems to have figured it out with most of his stream comprising of replies to people, albeit with a slight hiccup or two early on, however he retweeted some of the more funny ones, e.g.

If you fell through a crack in the universe would anyone notice? #AskEdM

#askEdM Why doesn’t superglue stick to the inside of the tube?

#AskEdM how long is it to tipperary & will I have to go via the
congestion charge zone to get there?

suggesting he at least has a sense of humour and can take a joke.

So, morale of the story?  Twitter is essentially a tool to have quick conversations with people at a distance; to many,  not responding to other people on Twitter is almost as rude as not responding to someone who asks you a question in person.  People or organisations intending to use Twitter to further their image or public perception would do well to bear that in mind.


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