What is Twitter for? Part II

I had some really interesting feedback to my recent Twitter post, and in my PR feed comes more today.

My take on Twitter was that 140 characters really isn’t enough to get across any meaningful message. However, JargonMaster is using it as a ‘taster’ for more content. This is like using Twitter as a portal to the ‘bigger’ content. The analogy with blogging is that you see a headline in an RSS reader and click it to read the full piece. Separation of headline and body. Perhaps that’s the true definition of micro-blogging. It’s a neat analogy with the head and tail of a long tail, in which the head is the (literal) headline and the content is the tail.

I like the way that you can give people tech and they think of innovative ways in which to use it. This is why I think Web 2.0 is not just about the changes in social behaviour, it’s this strange interplay between tech and social change. You go from the seed drill to the iron plough to subjucation of women. You go from Watt’s initial observation of steam from a kettle (although that’s apparently just PR propaganda), to steam-powered ships, railways, the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation. Meanwhile this precipitates urbanisation, Luddites and child labour. These things happened: they exposed more questions we had to ask of ourselves. More often than not – and I may be an idealist here – they came up with liberating ideas such as equality, democracy and accountability.

The Internet began with ARPANET, from which it takes its resilience, X.25 packet switching enabling content to be dissembled and reassembled around a network, and UUCP, a standard protocol for sharing content . On this network infrastucture Tim Berners-Lee overlaid his world-wide web open standard. Now we can see these heady concoctions changing everything: as Kraftwerk said, while I was piddling around on my ZX81, “Interpol and Deutsche Bank, FBI and Scotland Yard, Business, Numbers, Money, People.” At the time I had insuffient RAM even to fill a screen with characters. But my God, they were right.

Now we’ve gone from computer science, to information technology, to social media. Entire industries are shifting and realigning because of this. PR may benefit – it has always been about conversations so the more they are, the better – and advertising may not (who clicks a banner ad anymore?). Or it could be the other way around. Who can tell? Which futurologist predicted that texting would become so popular? Which one can accurately predict the future of social media enterprises we hadn’t heard of until months previously?

So, here’s the most interesting reaction to my post about Twitter. It’s so forward-looking and innovative that I’ll reproduce it in full, and point you towards its originator, Kyle from Engage in PR, who combines incisive comments on both tech and people and PR – essentially, the Holy Grail:

I’ve seen Twitter used to announce products, build WOM campaigns, help a CEO communicate with his customer-base and general brand building. All of these are direct to people who have chosen to listen (not always a liberty we in the PR world can realize).

Additionally we’ve also started using Twitter for ‘micropitching’ editors and it’s been effective, particularly with business pubs. Journalists have always asked for less from us PR types…Twitter kind of forces that point and teaches us all to be more concise.

Kyle even mentions the ideal of being concise. And as a copywriter, I fully endorse that.

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