I’m not a great fan of public spats online. Well, obviously they’re entertaining from a point of view of pulling up a seat and fetching some popcorn, but after everything blows over, what’s been achieved? Other than a lack of dignity.
Earlier this week, I was quoted in Chris Lee’s NMK Forum piece on the consequences of social media shaming from a PR reputation management perspective. It hit the headlines after one woman publicly shaming a developer at PyCon (a programming conference) for alleged sexist remarks ended with both losing their jobs and a whole host of other fallout that could have easily been avoided.
Rain. Broken shoes. Buying Christmas presents. Roads. Train timetables. None of them are particular exciting, bar perhaps Christmas, but all have, in one way or another, shown the value of Twitter and how the microblogging site has become part of our everyday world – even if it’s not necessarily the best place to find answers.
Two years ago – a lifetime in internet terms – a sustained period of wintery weather threatened to cancel the family Christmas as the roads and transport into and around Devon were particularly impassable in rural areas. It was difficult to get a full picture of what was passable and what wasn’t and it was touch and go if I’d be joining my family.
Barely a day goes past in social media without another survey or statistics being thrown around. 47% of Instagram users have taken a picture of their pet. Just 14% of tried to engage with a QR code on TV. And so on.
There’s so much of this stuff flying around – much of it interesting, or a good starting point for discussion – and easy to digest that it’s difficult to sort the relevant from the noise. And yes, I’m equally guilty of Tweeting out links with links to these surveys.
Last week the comedian Richard Herring tweeted a firm but polite message to his followers about requests for retweets and why he doesn’t retweet many links people ask him to.
“I am afraid I get asked to RT so much stuff for charity or whatever that I have to refuse all requests or my timeline’d be nothing but,” he said, before adding, “Also if all charity stuff gets RT then it would have no impact. Like to save it up for causes I am involved with.”
A fair enough explanation, it seems, although judging by the exchanges that followed, not all of his followers agreed.
Nearly ten years ago, the way I first knew about the 9/11 attacks was when I received a text from a friend telling me to turn on the TV. Today, I logged onto Facebook when I woke up, after a push notification to my phone, and saw my news feed filled up with statuses bout the death of Osama bin Laden. Same device, a very different way of receiving the news.
That today is Twitter’s fifth birthday is an indication of exactly how fast time can seem to move in the world of social networking. About three and a half years ago, promoted by Ben Ayers, I signed up to Twitter. I don’t think either of us quite knew how influential Twitter would become (even if we never stopped banging on about its importance at work).
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration (albeit one with no intentional hyperbole behind it) to say that Twitter has changed my life.
Social media’s pretty well established now but the question of who should take ownership for activity is no closer to being answered. PR Week have recently been attempting to answer this, making an argument for a host of different disciplines, while Econsultancy have argued that social media shouldn’t be owned by a PR or ad agency. I tend to agree with them.
Social media is a multi-faceted beast. It can be used to break stories, promote campaigns and brands, deal with reputation management, drive sales, and nurture and develop an enthusiastic community of fans and followers.
I’m sat on my sofa writing this at half eleven, the night before the general election. The Sun’s front page for election day, with David Cameron mocked up into the iconic Barack Obama image, is flying around Twitter – mostly to disbelief. Bet their sales go up though. It’s almost as if they’ve deliberately chosen an image that’ll provoke howls of online outrage.
So, yes, I’m sat here still not sure who to vote for. Tomorrow should be interesting, historic even. I can’t wait for the drama and the coverage, although I’m less than sure about 98% of the politicians involved.
Everyone’s favourite microblogging site has continued its evolution this week, as Twitter moved subtly into a mass grassroots campaigning tool. Move over breaking news, you were so Spring 2009, organic protest is where it’s at now.
First up was the Trafigura case, of which so much has been written, it’s somewhat pointless to rehash completely what went on (Adam Tinworth has a nice, concise summary). In a nutshell, the Guardian were gagged on writing about reporting on a Parliamentary question concerning Trafigura and there actions surrounding the dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast.
Anybody not from Britain looking at the Twitter trending topics today would have probably been baffled to see Mrs Slocombe’s Pussy near the top. Thanks to the British sense of humour, the catchphrase from 70s sitcom Are You Being Served was all over the microblogging site in tribute to the death of comic actress Mollie Sugden . Jonathan Ross was one of those responsible for getting the topic to the top of Twitter charts.
Sure enough, other countries were a bit puzzled by the trend, so much so that both Techcrunch and Mashable wrote stories complaining that Twitter was getting infected with spam again . They were soon put right in the comments.