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,
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,
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.
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.