23 March 2016 / reputation management / digital media /

#BrusselsAttacks show that Twitter is still alive and kicking

The initial title of this blog was going to be: Twitter is dead, long live Twitter? Not very original maybe to begin with. However, then 22 March happened. The first Spring Tuesday in Brussels on which an innocent commute to work, a coffee before a business trip, or the early start of an Easter family holiday, got so brutally interrupted by horrific, violent, loud bombs of hatred. Suddenly this title seemed less appropriate. What’s more, if ever there was a time this medium showed its real power, it is times like these… Times of desperation, disbelief, incomprehension, rage! After such an event, the world is seeking ways to get together, stand firmly behind a common cause, or simply express sentiments and send virtual thoughts to those in pain.  

I was also going to mention recent headlines about financial results Twitter booked, the #RIPTwitter ‘movement’ and the typical questions we get as communicators about the purpose and the future of Twitter. And, this was all perfectly timed to be published in the week of Twitter’s 10th birthday.

Skip all that. I am going to cut to the chase and share why I think Twitter is awesome. And, since we’re talking communications on this blog, why it can serve as a powerful channel in the wider communications mix. Ranging from corporate communications and positioning or reputation building & management, to public affairs and advocacy campaigns: Twitter can play a role in increasing your reach and amplifying your message. There are many reasons why I believe Twitter, today, is very much alive and kicking. This blog offers a few of those.

Twitter is the medium where :

1. You get your scoops. (Many!) Journalists use Twitter, either as an important source of news and intelligence, to produce news and intelligence for readers. Social media, including Twitter, often beat traditional media in terms of speed. Often ‘news’ is born on Twitter due to first-hand accounts and eye-witnesses.

  • Tip for companies/organisations: don’t forget to include ‘digital’ in your media strategy. News starting online can often result in coverage off-line.


2. You get the 'global' picture. Twitter is not limited by national boundaries. Follow the #Brexit debate or the latest faux pas by #Trump and you are not only exposed to a Belgian, Dutch, English or American perspective on things. You can join a conversation with the entire world around one single #.

  • Tip for companies/organisations: check out the analytics of your social media communications to analyze what works well in which geography, and how you can target your communications to key audiences or regions.


3.  Policy wonks and political junkies get #respect. Arguably the biggest population on Twitter, or at least here in Brussels, is the group of people engaged in political activism and campaigning, policy debates, and public affairs. 80% of the Belgian ministers are on Twitter, and many other politicians in Belgium make extensive use of the channel in their own communication. So it only makes sense to include the channel in your wider campaign, if that’s the audience you aim to reach!

  • Tip for companies/organisations: when using Twitter in a public affairs or advocacy campaign, consider including a hashtag containing an action. For example, Obama’s #GetCovered hashtag was used to encourage people in the US to get healthcare coverage.


4. Humans (like, real people) speak: I love checking out the Twitter accounts of large corporations. You see the logo, the disclaimers and the branding but you know, behind the keyboard on the other side there is a human being trying to fit a message into 140 characters. Companies that ‘get it’ use precisely (and wisely) that personal feature. What distinguishes people from machines? Common sense, humour, empathy, the capacity to listen…. Very important ingredients indeed for effective social media behavior.

  • Tip for companies/organisations: It gets even better, and more credible, when the actual people of the company (be it the CEO or other employees) tweet on behalf of…. themselves. Don’t underestimate the impact of this visible ‘ambassadorship’ on your overall corporate reputation! Here are just some examples:

@THubbuch (Tiense Suiker)

@Baptistevod (Carrefour)

@T_Van_Hooland (AbbVie)

@Chimiel (Google)

@DeKimCa (NMBS)

5. My ‘waste of time’ is never really wasted. I found myself 'defending' Twitter to someone the other day by saying that every time I spend time on the channel, I pick up something useful, interesting, relevant, inspiring, or funny.  These are new insights or connections that I can subsequently share, with colleagues, clients, or friends. These can lead to new products, initiatives, or just fun. And isn't that what it's about? Sharing is caring isn’t a cliché for nothing. To put it in the words of one of our akkanto partners (and hardcore #LatinLives evangelist) Veni Vidi Tweeti.

Happy 10th birthday, Twitter.

  • Tip for companies/organisations: Read our blog on how to use social media in only 30 minutes a day


Also read related akkanto blogs:

Crisis & social media, friends or foes?
Nos ministres sont-ils des “twittos”?


Femke Beumer

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