How Twitter has affected online communication after 8 years of microblogging? 21Mar

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A lot can happen within 8 years in today’s world of technological innovation and growing digitalization of all realms of life. Twitter’s 8th Birthday is a great opportunity to take a look at the micro blogging platform and trace its influence- not only for private users but also for major companies and even governments.

See an Illustrated History of Twitter

Less is more

Word minimalism is nothing new, but it has been brought to perfection by Twitter users due to the (in)famous 140 character limit. The growing use of mobile devices and dynamics of everyday life are favoring this type of brevity: the less time we have to read through something, the more appreciation we have for short, straightforward and up to the point messages. News and updates feed us with summed up information and give us the choice whether to learn more and click on the link inside the tweet. More creative minds even see the restriction in space as an inspiration instead of obstacle and introduced a literary competition for fiction written within 140 characters.

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“Constraints drive innovation and force focus,” claim 37Signals in their “Getting Real” book.This quick and up to the point credo has many advantages for brands as they can use Twitter to:

– hook users with interesting information

– share news briefly and reach a large well targeted audience of followers (or attract new users through third party retweets)

-provide for quick customer service (if you are doing it right) while being able to receive short and precise (140 characters, remember) feedback from clients

-and share continuous streams of short engaging information without coming off as boring advertising (if they do it right).

You are doing it right!

There are virtually no limits to imagination in a medium with such a wide reach. A great example of a creative social media marketing approach is the Starbucks campaign Tweet a Coffee. To buy your friends a real coffee in a virtual way you just had to link your Starbucks and Twitter accounts, tweet a coffee to a friend using @tweetacoffee and voila!  Your friend receives a $5 eGift from you.

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Mercedes also boosted their creativity by a campaign in which they shared a 30 second clip of a car chase which was then offered to Twitter users to vote what should happen next. The best story was then filmed and aired on ‘The X Factor‘ in the following week. This interactive approach attracted a lot of attention and creative ideas and showed how different marketing mediums (TV ads and social media) can blend seamlessly if there is a great idea behind the campaign.

Beware of Hijackers

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It is great that as a medium Twitter is very flexible. But sometimes it can be too flexible. Campaigns intended to attract consumer interest and engagement can easily go the wrong way if the campaign starts at a controversial time for the given brand or its hashtag is prone to hijacking and sarcastic counter-comments. The most (in)famous example here is probably the McDonalds deep dive into the big pool of Twitter sarcasm when healthy food supporters decided to share their #McDstories fast food horror stories.

 The most recent example is a great example how hasthags can blow personal reputation: Jenny McCarthy’s heated stance against vaccination caused a storm of sarcastic comments to her Twitter attempts to engage fans with #JennyAsks. Essentially the whole conversation was hijacked by pro-vaccination supporters in a massive campaign against medical misinformation and pseudo scientific claims.

 A look back to the beginning

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The first Twitter attempts by some of the world’s biggest companies might not be as confident as their presence now, but are a fun way to take a step beck and observe their evolution in social media communication.

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