Twitter: A New Level of Power

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.

Thanks for the follow…

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Here’s a shout-out to the people that have started following me on twitter.  Thanks.  And even though I don’t know any of you personally, I look forward to learning more about you and what you want to share with the Twitterverse.  Well, maybe not for all of you.  Let me explain before you stop reading.

Last week I saw a re-tweet that mentioned an article titled “The 40 Most Approachable Social Media A-listers on Twitter.”  Of course, the list was not created after a poll of all Tweeters, but instead was a list created by the author (Brian Rice) showing his own opinion.  But he said that following and interacting with these individuals is a MUST!  I read the list and saw that of the 40 names, I was already following six or seven on Twitter.  I was even following a couple on Facebook too.

I decided to follow every single person on that list.  My reason?  Mainly because I am the social media marketer at the company I work for and I am always looking for people that know what they are doing in this arena and what they can share to help me.

Another reason I started following all of those people is because I have read so many articles about things that can be done to gain a following for your blog, and one of the suggestions was to be interacting with A-listers that have a large following.  Now, I know I am not interacting yet as was suggested, but I am starting.

After following all forty people on the list, I posted a Tweet saying that I was following them all in hopes of going viral.  Two things happened as a result over the last few days that I think is interesting.  First of all, I received a message back from Marjorie Clayman (@margieclayman) with some profound truth.  She said in essence that doing things because I want to go viral will not help my postings go viral in the way that I want them to.  This comment directly relates to the second occurrence that I found interesting.

In the last few days since posting that tweet, the number of followers that I have on Twitter has doubled.  No, that is not viral.  In fact, many of those new followers are members of that list of forty names that I started following, and they are following me back.  Others that started to follow me are people that also follow those forty names.  All of us seem to have some common interests when it comes to social media.  It is to all of you that I say “thank you” for following me and I hope to enjoy more interacting through comments and direct messages.

But along with these new followers, I acquired another twenty followers that don’t tweet.  They follow dozens, if not 100-200 people, and are even followed by a few dozen others, but they don’t tweet.  Who are these people?  Why do they want to follow me?  Do we share any common interests?  I didn’t know the answer to these questions so I decided to click on their profiles to learn more about them.  Marjorie was right… I don’t necessarily want to go viral in this way.

All of these unknown, non-tweeting followers are women.  Most of them work in the porn industry… at least that is an easy assumption based on some of their profile pictures and website links on their profile.  But I could be assuming erroneously.  It is all a judgment based on outward appearance.

It is interesting that I suddenly had these people following me.  I don’t blame it on the fact that I started to follow those forty social media A-listers.  Timing could have played a huge role in the whole thing.  But regardless, it is still interesting to me.  I don’t think that I share anything in common with these people.  I don’t think they share much in common with any of the people I follow (I could be wrong… I don’t know their personal lives one bit).  Maybe they are just using social media to help market their own business, whatever that may be.  And they are trying to become viral, just as I would like to see happen with my own blog postings.

So in the end, I have actually learned a lesson… or two, or maybe more.  The first lesson I learned is that when I tweet using sarcasm, I need to make it clear that I am being sarcastic.  I had no intention of following those people so that I could become a viral blogger; I just said it out of jest.  When Marjorie responded, I decided I better not lead anyone else into misunderstanding so I deleted that tweet.

The second lesson came from Marjorie’s response.  Although, it wasn’t necessarily the response itself that taught the lesson, but also the resulting follows that reinforced what she was saying to me.

The third lesson was actually something that I had already learned, but was reinforced learning.  It is that if I want to become approachable like those 40 A-listers, I need to interact more.  If I have a question, I need to ask it.  If I have something to share, I need to share it.  If I want to comment on someone else’s tweet, I need to say it… especially if it contributes to the conversation.

I can’t just write my views and expect that the posting will get 10,000 views in the first three days.  Heck, I have written 50 blogs postings and I haven’t even gotten 10,000 views combined since I started.  But that is not the objective.  My interaction will hopefully return interaction, which in turn will help me as I develop my writing, which is the reason I started my blog in the first place.

Summed up, if I am social, people will be social back.  If I have the objective of quick popularity, I may get it… but who will I be popular with?  Probably not the ones that will help me accomplish my goals.  So hopefully I have learned what I need to know and will be able to follow through as I follow all of you.  And if you have learned from my own experience, than I am glad that I could help.  The view has definitely expanded.

Just another view from a Palmtree.