If I can say that I have learned nothing else by the time I grab my master’s degree, I will officially be able to contend that my enlightenment about Twitter this semester has been transformative.
I remember the night I established my Twitter account, now over two years ago. Some friends at work had been buzzing about it for whatever reason, and because I was an active Facebook user and had been somewhat of a mover and shaker on Myspace, I knew I wanted to investigate. But because I had been SO active on other social media outlets up to that point, I just wasn’t sure I had the time or energy to start up my antics on another vehicle. I’m also notoriously slow to adopt.
But I created the account. I had a fairly new iPhone at that point, so I used it to do so. That was probably as fate would have it, because as I stared at the tiny screen and tried to discern how the Twitter app worked, I just couldn’t be bothered. It didn’t seem very user-friendly. And I already had enough social media to contend with. So simply creating the account was all I did.
I’m pretty glad I left that Twitter account idle for this whole time, because I’m certain had I gained any momentum with it at that point, I would’ve misused it. Indeed and as I have now learned, Twitter is not just another means for posting “status updates.” I might’ve inferred that and used it that way had I jumped on the bandwagon when I first started the account. And how embarrassing that would have been at this point.
As I see it now, Twitter might be one of the most significant tech advancements to come along for journalists and public relations practictioners. By design, it lends itself not to posting status updates, but to posting headlines. Not as generally used for random personal expression as other sites, Twitter has quite systematically become a platform for journalistic and public relations use. And this week’s readings further highlight that.
The advice and suggestions set forth in this week’s material read like a guide book–one I daresay has never existed for other social media like Facebook where pretty much anything goes. The effective use of Twitter’s power is in being responsible and informed. A respected Twitter presence will require good spelling and research. And incumbent is not a little skill at being intelligently succinct and straight-forward–even when you want to be tongue-in-cheek or funny.
It appears that Twitter use has evolved dramatically to become the vehicle it is currently. A place where snappy headlines can lead other users to links of news stories or articles/ads to push a product and where others with common interests can be tweeted directly in order to foster or further business relationships, the tool can also be used to effect social change (as seen in last week’s readings about #freemona). It might very well and finally be the intelligent person’s social media. At the very least, it can be a powerful networking and self-promotion vehicle. And in that aspect, this week’s ‘how-to guides’ are invaluable.
After reading all of this and accommodating the raw power of Twitter to promote, to share news and to network, it’s pretty clear to me now why it was not a good idea for me to have bothered with it prior to now. A little misuse of this network can clearly have some pretty significant impacts. I’m glad I waited around.
(By the way, I need to point out here how significant our recent #jbowl event was for me personally. Not only did it force me to familiarize myself with the app’s functionality, I saw very clearly that even in a recreational setting that it’s best to be responsible on Twitter. While I still contend that @jcpenney’s tweeting in mittens was brilliant publicity, the resultant brouhaha surrounding a company doing something that lighthearted in this setting has been eye-opening and indicative that this is not your “little sister’s social media setting.”)