I started tweeting in November of 2009. I haven’t been an active tweeter (or is it twitterer) but I have paid a bit of attention to other people that tweet. As I have researched the use of social media sites for business marketing and employee-to-client engagement, I have noticed a few examples for good and bad practices. Most eye-catching has been the success of companies (or lack there-of) and how it directly relates to their use of Twitter. Though it could be complete coincidence, I really doubt it is. I also don’t think that company success is in any way dependent on using Twitter. It is merely enhanced.
Now we are seeing Twitter used in a way that, although is not new, is gaining publicity. This month I have seen two articles regarding twitter being used in the government of nations. Like I said, nothing new. There are members of congress in the U.S.A. that have been using twitter for quite a while now. You may even follow one or more of those congressional branch tweeters. I know I used to, but I quit. And was I glad I did once the Weiner scandal broke.
But have you noticed the news about the presidents of two separate nations using twitter? President Barack Obama started tweeting just last month. Then, earlier this month, he went beyond tweeting. He held a Twitter Townhall meeting. I didn’t know that Twitter was capable of being a townhall. I thought it was a domain in the cloud. So either I was wrong, or Twitter is that powerful.
In the townhall meeting, Obama was able to receive questions and answer them back. That must have been quite difficult for him, given the 140 character limit. But from some of the comments I have read, I don’t think the length limits had a negative effect. Actually quite the opposite. There have been more people following the trend #askobama since the townhall meeting then there were during the meeting. And what does that mean? It was a boon for Obama and Twitter.
Obama captured more exposure. Twitter got more users. A win-win if you ask me. Just a great example of how powerful Twitter can be.
Also this month we learned that Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, was receiving treatment for cancer in Cuba. But, in an interesting development, it was reported that he was governing the country via tweets. What?! Does he not have email or a phone?
Actually, he wasn’t governing as much as he was doing like Obama… he was using a new form of public relations. True, he did use one of his tweets to give approval for money that is to be used for a project, but he has definitely had more tweets that were written with the intent of connecting with the Venezuelan public. This was evident as he was commenting on the soccer game between Venezuela and Paraguay at the Copa America tournament taking place in Argentina.
But does it really matter if he was conducting business or socializing? Don’t business do that with Twitter and other forms of social media? These two leaders are in essence running businesses as well. And they need to connect with the people in all ways possible. The fact that they chose Twitter says something about how powerful Twitter really can be. It was also a good example of how much easier it can be to contain your followers responses when you are trying to keep control of a conversation.
Well done, Mr. Chavez and Mr. Obama. And for the rest of us that are finally getting a grasp on how it should be done.
Just another view from a Palmtree.