Giving us a taste of things to come the sophisticated (and hugely popular on Twitter) Stephen Fry jumps right into the story like any good writer would.
Another former Monty Python member trying to grab the fans with a deep philosophical statement.
But (occasional) jokes and everyday boredom of the platform aside, what has Twitter given us over these past eight years?
1. A fake sense of closeness. Some use social media to build walls rather than bridges. Having very public conversations with the chosen few and ignoring everyone else is an extreme form of exhibitionism that always existed, but on Twitter (and other social media) anyone (not only celebs) can indulge in that sort of narcissistic behaviour. Twitter is a great listening tool – instead of building exclusive communities brands and businesses should pay attention to their audience- as Seth Godin puts it in his blog, we should be grateful for complaints, as most customers will leave without complaining
2. Disappointment (and perhaps a certain sense of superiority for some). We’ve all been there – the endless cycle of following and unfollowing that makes us feel smarter than yet another unfortunate personality caught in a drunken tweet. On a more serious note, Twitter is great for investigating brands and the way they interact (or don’t interact) with customers, which can be helpful for someone looking to build up their own brand or decide which brands to support.
3. A (mostly) free broadcasting channel for everyone. Social media is becoming crowded and it’s getting difficult to hear anything or be heard. Listing your followers is the only way forward, in fact, putting people on curated lists instead of following them seems to be the trend at the moment. Although there is no limit on a number of members in a list I would recommend having less than 150, that way you will be able to keep track of conversations. Listing others may get you on other users’ lists, which means your voice will be heard.
4. Democratisation of influence. If you have something to say you don’t need newspapers or TV anymore – theoretically social media gives everyone an opportunity to build up influence on a personal level or in a particular field. Connecting with other influencers may help as well. Collecting followers though is not the best way of increasing influence – it’s much more important to know whether your followers are listening and engaging with the content you publish.
5. Twitter advertising. Paying to get attention seems to be the best way out in a crowded and noisy realm of social media. Twitter followed the example of Facebook and is now offering an opportunity to advertise. You can promote an account or a post, but bear in mind that your eligibility will be affected by location, language, level of activity on your Twitter account and its status (if your tweets are protected you are not eligible).
6. A wealth of data. With the phrase ‘data-driven’ overtaking ‘content marketing’ as the buzz generator of the moment social media is a valuable tool for data gathering and analysis. The amount of data that can be obtained without breaking any privacy laws is astounding.
7. The threat of oversharing. Remember that other Twitter users are data gatherers as well, so avoid giving more than you take. Excessive sharing or personal information is bad, but posting negative, disparaging or outright insulting comments can be even more damaging (no matter how crowded that social realm is someone is bound to be affected or offended). Don’t go viral for the wrong reasons!
8. Vanity metrics. Number of followers, retweets, faves, but also Klout and Kred, the influence measuring apps feeding on Twitter and other platforms. Instead of being hung up on a particular metric or using it as yet another stick to beat yourself with choose the metrics that are relevant to your brand and actually demonstrate the depth of engagement with your content.
Happy Birthday Twitter! Here’s to the next eight years! (image credit: voluntaryarts.org)