Twitter: A Learning Experience for the Long-Winded Writer
For someone who is described on a daily basis as being “overly verbose,” Twitter’s 140 character limit was quite the challenge. I would write the first version of my tweet and be something like 40 characters over the limit, and then have to spend some time playing with my wording and hashtags to see how I could bring that tweet back under the word limit. In that way, this assignment was almost liberating—it showed me that I am, in fact, capable of getting my point across in 140 characters or less. It was also really interesting to see how people got around that 140 character limit by sharing posts, writing more information in their pictures, and sharing things from other sites.
The news/corporate side of Twitter is really interesting for me because they too are stuck with the 140 character limit, and have to get all of their advertising and information across within that 140 character limit. For the news people, it seemed almost easy: put the headline down, a couple of hashtags, and a link to the news story. For the advertisers, it looked a little bit harder—no one wants to open a picture just to see what could be a billboard advertisement or a poster in the bathroom stall at their school.
In the same way, some advertisers are smart, and willing to use one tone to ‘portray’ their company. The sassy Wendy’s Twitter-face is hilariously sassy: I haven’t eaten at Wendy’s in probably 10 years, and yet I follow them on Twitter just because their advertising is so funny and well done. On that hand, I think some other organizations could step up, because in this day and age, young people aren’t necessarily looking for just information—they’re looking for information that’s going to be memorable in some way, and in 140 characters, memorable is probably going to come from funny. The City of Edmonton has some quality tweets with some excellent information, but if they really wanted to get their audience into their Twitter feed, they would make it funnier and more engaging (though the extent to which they can do that is probably limited considering government policies and such).
I can’t say that Twitter is going to become my go-to social media (because I’m still too overly verbose for that), but it’s definitely going to be something that I keep up on in the future. It’s good for advertisers, businesses, and even just everyday people to get the word out about themselves, which means there’s never going to be a dull moment on Twitter!
Twitter: “Hold that pose! That would make a good picture…”
When Kyra and I started this assignment, I thought it was going to be a walk in the park—I already use Twitter on a regular basis for professional networking, so I’m already well acquainted with how it works and how to use it—although I still have a hard time compressing my thoughts into 140 characters, but my grasp on concision actually improved with this assignment!
That being said, besides my issue with concision (and perhaps my inconvenient timing for when I asked to grab photos of people), I was right! This assignment was a walk in the park! But it was also fun, and it was nice having an opportunity to sit down with interesting people and hear what they think of our school. Doing this assignment also forced me to contemplate how I use Twitter now and why I use it the way I do, but also how I could be using it better and how others could be using Twitter better. Because of this assignment, I was better equipped to step up to a new role in a non-profit organization I work for by helping to redesign their Twitter campaign to be more effective by re-centering around community engagement.
If Facebook’s strength is its reach, then Twitter’s strength is its ability to allow people and companies make their brands more directly interactive with their demographics and followers. Twitter’s hashtags make it easy to connect with several different groups at once, and the ability to tweet at people is a useful tool that allows your brand to become your voice, your “face.” (And if there’s anything I’ve learned from networking over the past few years, it’s the value of becoming a “Face” in whatever field you’re trying to make your way in!) Direct engagement with the community by tweeting and replying to people, creating “threads”, is an understated but powerful marketing tool. MacEwan tracks its own hashtag, #MacEwanU, and retweets the content that students and faculty post in it, but MacEwan could spread its sphere of influence by expanding their communications strategy on Twitter to also include replying to and tweeting directly at users.
Twitter is my go-to social media, mostly because I already use it in my professional life, but I’ve glad to say that I’m finishing this assignment with a better understanding of how to use Twitter in a more efficient and powerful way. Whether I use it for flinging my personal brand out into the void, or for work, I know I’m always going to have an interesting time on Twitter!
See Our #TeamKaV adventure on Storify!