I will start by admitting that for some time I resisted the tide of popular culture and refused to sign up for a Twitter account. The reason for my refusal to join the masses in a world of hash tags, tweets and trends was that in my opinion to say anything relevant and poignant required far more than one hundred and forty characters.
This was an opinion firmly underscored when Ashton Kutcher was formally recognised with a world record for having the most Twitter followers. Frankly, when I heard this news, in no way did I feel as though I was out of the loop and in danger of being left behind.
It has taken a tumultuous 2011 to show me that, amid the noise and banality, Twitter or social media more broadly can and does perform a valuable role in society today. In a world in which the impartiality of the media is rightly being questioned, Twitter and many other social networks are proving their worth as a source of unfettered, unmodified news.
2011 has seen a Tsunami in Japan, the death of Osama Bin Laden and Moamar Gaddafi, numerous popular uprisings in the Middle East and the Occupy Wall Street movement spread globally. Some of these events were triggered or facilitated by social media, but all of them received extensive coverage by social media.
With live commentary and pictures flashing around the world virtually instantaneously, traditional media was left standing in the wake, generally having to report the news as they received it via social media channels.
Although I still detest the drivel spouted by many on social media, I have learnt a lesson this year. If the message being delivered is important, relevant and delivered to the right audience, communications, including Tweets, of any kind can make a huge impact.
The most shared events on social media in 2011 were:
- Osama Bin Ladens death
- US East coast earthquake
- Hurricane Irene
- Steve Job’s death
- The British royal wedding
Despite an organisation or individuals desire to take advantage of social media’s booming popularity, in order to avoid adding to the noise, it is vital that we ask the following questions
- Who is my target audience?
- What is they want to know?
- What have I got to say?
- How do I best get this information to them?
These are the fundamentals of communications and are no less relevant when doing so via social media.