Phil Bilbrough: Twit twit twitter

Twit twit twitter!

By Phil Bilbrough
Advertising.Scoop.co.nz

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I signed-up for Twitter in April 2006, whendidyoujointwitter.com,  probably one of the first 5 milllion, yet did nothing with it for 3 years. My registration did give me the cred to say,  “Yeah Twitter. I’m all over it.”twitter

And I’m all over MySpace and YouTube and Facebook and LinkedIn and TribeHQ.

Reading its publicity was much more exciting than Tweeting. Kinda like films.  Some years later, after I had cobbled together a Twitter campaign for a pitch I got interested again. Then the cool www.twittearth.com gave me a bit more  Twitter adrenalin (Tweetalin), and finally the supreme TweetDeck got me absolutely re-enthused for all things Twitter.

And I have learned things about it. Here are 5 points to Twitter points to help you through your day…

Twitter Advice #1: Don’t Tweet if you only have hours to live. Oh boy does Twitter kill time.  Maybe you can kid yourself that you are making business connections but in most cases you are connecting with people who want to connect with you so that they can sell you something. Many who Tweet are in the social networking business. Of all the Twitter material there is a wee bit of “I’ll tell you about Social Networking if you tell me”, a bit of  truly compelling material, and the rest of Twitter is dribble. Swimming pools of it.

Twitter is a snap shot of the web. Of the billions of  tweets most is personal trivia whose only reader is a best friend or a disparate voyeur, and that’s OK, but there is also the Iranian revolution. The Iranian revolution comes to you 140 characters at a time via Twitter. Intriguingly one of the main Twitter observers of Iranian revolution is  PersianKiwi. This tweeter and others pack riots of drama into 140 chars:

persiankiwiThe Gov is colapsing and the system of control is fast breaking down – #Iranelection

“any proxy addss shown on twitter is possible trap – freedom twitters in Iran DO NOT follow – YOUR LOCATION IS VISIBLE – #Iranelection”

“several arrests today after tracking thru twiter proxys – #Iranelection”

“our lives are in real danger now – we are the eyes – they need to stop us – #Iranelection cont….”

I changed my Twitter country of origin and time zone to Iran and Tehran to support the protesters.  The Iranian revolution is not only Twitter, YouTube is there, but Twitter is just it, at this moment.

Twitter Advice #2: Don’t mess with your followers. This makes me laugh. Sorry LOL. If you want to receive tweets from another person you “follow” them. Kind of cult-ish. Cult leaders always messed with their followers (or killed them), but don’t do it in Twitter. If you want to get out of Twitter you fade away by not tweeting. You can’t be one cult leader one day and another the next. Vodafone found this out when Paul Brislen ran the Vodafone Twitter account then Vodafone hijacked it for another campaign – The Vodafone Guy.  The previous followers went ballistic and switched to Paul Brislen’s personal twitter account.

Twitter Advice #3: The web is fast, Twitter is faster – are you up for it? The  UK Fashion Blogger Suzie Bubble was asked by designer Pam Hogg to take down photos of her collection from Suzie’s blog. Photos taken by Suzie of Suzie in Pam’s clothes in Pam’s shop. Pam cited her policy of only releasing photos of her clothes taken to her specification. Suzie did pull the photos, but chose to make Pam pay. Her follow-up post was much worse. In the new post she first explained the situation in a straightforward tone, then moved on to a different tone one that played on her community’s insecurities of their own self images. She backhandedly accused the designer of not wanting her, a normal women, to be photographed in Hogg’s clothes. Her community (10,000 strong) empathized with Suzie and raged against the Hogg. A tweet of this mushroom cloud found its way to me 12 hours after the revised post was published. Is all publicity good publicity? Not any more. Bloggers are the new tribal chiefs.

One of my posts on social networking went global. I know this because this blog has Google Analytics through it, and because through LinkedIn I was able to use the Company Buzz application to track the Tweets that referenced my blog. Ten or so people had Tweeted the URL of this blog or re-tweeted Scoop’s tweet to their followers. Why? Because I’m such a sensational writer. Maybe, but probably because these people want to keep up a flow of tweets to their followers. Their aim is to position themselves to their followers as social network gurus. Are they? Only because they have the time to find an online article cut and paste its URL into a tweet and do that 10 times a day.

Did this attention add many unique visitors to my blog? No. Some of these people were re-tweeting to 5000 followers, yet although my numbers to that post increased, it wasn’t an extraordinary increase. Most of the visitors to my blog come through the homepage of Scoop.

Twitter Advice #4: “Specialise” and re-package Twitter to make money. There is a conference in the states, “140 characters” – great name – so to make money from Twitter all you need to do is run a conference about it. Who cares what you say just ride the Twitter wave and charge people to listen to you.

You could also group Tweets from celebs. I mean the technology is existing the celebs are already Tweeting, how much would that cost to set up? There is also Twitter Confessions. Just give people something to tweet about and they will.

Twitter Advice#5: Know Twitter – know social media. If you can create compelling tweets in 140 characters, and retain a substantial following on Twitter then you have social media networking sussed. It’s a bit like when you begin to learn to the play the drums you start by clapping your hands. I’m not precluding other ways of learning how to be a social networker yet Twitter is a great foundation.

Twitter’s success shouldn’t be a surprise. It combines mobile with internet. Its the easiest way to publish in the world. It empowers people to say something. Some of us never needed empowering, but previously you needed to impress an editor or a publisher or be Christine Rankin before your opinion was broadcast. Now all you need is a mobile phone.

Wanna follow me? Be my guest, twitter.com/philbilbrough – I still have my cough, but I promise to tweet about something else.

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Phil Bilbrough is a freelance online advertising specialist who has recently begun blogging on the subject for Scoop at Advertising.scoop.co.nz. He can be contacted at phil@bilbrough.com.

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