Twitter Is Fleeting, But That Doesn’t Mean You Should Avoid It

For all of its troubles, Twitter remains my favorite social media tool.

There is always new content to see, even if the the algorithm behind what I see doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I mean, where else can you have a conversation with a best-selling author and watch the President of the United States set policy with his tweets at the same time?

It’s quite a time to be alive.

Even though there are about one thousand hot takes about the death of Twitter, the service continues to thrive for the reasons I mentioned above.

Plus, Twitter has shown signs of life as recently as the end of 2017.

As long as high-profile users use it to make announcements and communicate with the world, it will never die.

But as with a lot of things on the social web that capture our attention, the tweets we react to are fleeting.

The tweets don’t go away — nothing ever truly goes away, even if you delete it — but our attention span is set up so that we like, retweet or rage against, then we move on and wait for something else.

Staying power on Twitter is only as strong as the length of time it stays in our collective Twitter consciousness.

If you’re sitting there thinking I’m making an argument to stay away from Twitter to promote your business, I wouldn’t say you’re completely wrong. It takes a different strategy to be successful on Twitter.

Nowadays, the brands that excel are the ones that treat Twitter for what it is: a community that rallies around hashtags and tries to capture a few seconds of user’s attention.

Last night, after Super Bowl LII, Duracell promoted a tweet that was heavily tongue-in-cheek. Only the most in-the-know sports fan, or Philadelphian, would understand the reference.

Here’s the tweet:

Duracell shared content that was both controversial and really funny. As you can see by the tweet, more than 19,000 people liked it.

I bet those 19,000 people didn’t give it a second thought after they acted on it.

Duracell, for their part, only had to spend a little bit of money to get their brand in front of a captive audience still reveling in their team’s victory. The fact that there wasn’t outrage (look up the Philadelphia battery incident for more background) is a bit surprising, but it shows brands can still take risks and not lose face with their target customers. (I’d love to see what they had planned had the Patriots won.)

To that end, your company doesn’t have to break the bank to get started on Twitter. You don’t have to spend any money if you don’t want to (services like Unsplash provide free imagery you can use to spice up your content).

And becoming active on Twitter is as easy as developing an editorial calendar that incorporates existing content (blog posts, infographics, etc.) so you don’t have to create new content.

The content you share at first (and, really, all the time) will be fleeting, but that doesn’t mean you should stay away.

People are still coming to Twitter to see what our president is saying and interact with celebrities.

Your company would be missing out if you stayed away.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Patience Must Become A Virtue

I’m not here to bash Twitter.

I think it’s one of the most useful social media channels we have at our disposal, at the very least from the standpoint of being able to engage with people you wouldn’t normally be able to otherwise.

When it comes to that ability, Twitter is hard to beat. Where else can you ask one of your favorite authors about the topic of their next book and (usually) get a response?

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Twitter. That’s where.

But just like everything that is great, there’s always something to hate about that thing you love, and Twitter is definitely not immune to hatred.

After the 2016 presidential election, that thing (that I hate) was on full display, and it continues to this day.

I’m talking about a lack of restraint when it comes to outrage.

Here are some of the headlines that have been shared recently by my Twitter community:

White House to Propose Massive Cuts to EPA Budget

Justice Department tells all remaining Obama administration U.S. attorneys to resign

Taken at face value, these headlines are alarming.

Slashing the EPA’s budget would mean bad news for the environment and be three steps backward from where we have come as a civilization.

And a mass firing of U.S. attorneys is cause to sit up and take notice, especially in light of everything else happening in this current political climate.

But if you are sharing these headlines, you owe it to everyone to reign in your outrage.

The proposed budget is exactly that: a proposal.

An incoming administration firing U.S. attorneys is not unusual.

All of us operate under a pre-existing narrative, and we are in a rush to share anything that fits within that storyline, without taking a few moments to really think how we are impacting those around us.

There will come a time when complete and utter outrage is necessary, but that time is not when budgets are proposed. Maybe when they are approved and final.

A poet once coined the phrase “patience is a virtue.”

Those are words we must all follow in tumultuous times.

Social in the Heat of the Moment is Never a Good Idea

As the Trump presidency begins in earnest, in all of its glory, those who oppose him will not hesitate to post news on social media, regardless of whether or not they have vetted it properly.

Exhibit A is a bill that has been introduced via Rep. Mike Rogers that seeks to have the United States discontinue their membership in the United Nations.

This is an alarming proposal on the surface that surely leads to more anxiety from the left, as well as those who believe Trump will bring about the downfall of this country.

Somebody who I adore shared this story on Facebook. The link emanated from the NBC affiliate website in Columbus, Ohio, complete with a headline meant to instill even more uncertainty.

And if you take a minute to read the article, nothing in it suggests the headline is misleading

But like almost everything that will be shared by your friends, it requires a few more steps to discover its legitimacy, which leads me to an invaluable resource: Snopes.com.

Upon further investigation, I found an article on the site that explains this bill has been presented every single year since 1997.

This doesn’t mean this bill won’t come to fruition. But it shows (again) that we need to be sure the news we are sharing is accurate, rather than a knee-jerk post shared in the heat of the moment.

Election Proves Twitter Still Has Value

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Twitter has had a rough year.

With layoffs and a perceived lack of direction of what the company actually wants to be, the microblogging service that burst on to the scene nearly ten years ago (has it been that long already?) is having a mid-life crisis, in as much that ten years can be considered “midlife” in today’s tech environment.

But on Election Night, something happened.

As America watched the returns come in, Twitter saw users send 75 million election-related tweets to their networks, shattering the previous record of 31 million tweets.

The fact that Donald Trump scored an improbable victory probably helped drive people to tweet their feelings, but it also showed that Twitter is still a place where people gather online to react with others during big events.

And, if you’re a social networking company, isn’t that what you strive for?

Unlike Facebook, which tends to be dominated by static conversation that gets lost amid all of the algorithm changes, Twitter is still the go-to source for providing real-time information, often providing news faster than the traditional news sources we’ve leaned on in the past.

Twitter is the first place I go when I get a whiff of important news. In the days since the election it has proved invaluable as a resource, if not a depressing resource.

Still, you can begin to see where Twitter’s value lies: as a gathering spot for humans to interact when major events occur. Sure, false news also runs rampant, but the truth tends to overcome as facts are confirmed.

Sometimes I like to conduct thought experiments where I wonder how we would’ve reacted had Twitter been a thing when Kennedy was assassinated, or when 9/11 occurred.

I’m not saying we would’ve reacted any differently, but, I think, we may have found comfort.

Twitter obviously has value. The numbers back it up. For all the talk about users dropping, we’ve seen people return in droves when they are emotionally invested in something.

And now, with news coming out about President-elect Trump’s appointments, it’s imperative we have ways to talk openly with others, but that’s for another post.

For now, Twitter has shown that its allure lies in bringing people together by the hundreds of thousands.

Seems like a pretty good reason to stick around and see where it goes from here.

The World Is Better Offline

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If you took some time this weekend to unplug and focus on what really matters in life, the world probably seemed like a pretty okay place in which to exist.

Consider: It finally stopped raining in Michigan after a three-day deluge. The Ryder Cup, football, and the last day of the MLB season provided high sporting drama. And there was a hint of coolness in the air that suggests it’s finally time to visit the apple orchard for cider and donuts.

All in all, things were fine. Good, even.

But upon arriving at work this morning (or in bed this morning, if you’re that type) we were brought back to reality when we scrolled through our social media feeds.

Consider: Donald Trump is assembling his Twitter army to expose Hilary Clinton’s lies following the next presidential debate. The earth is the warmest it has been in 120,000 years. Hate speech on Twitter is limited only by the character limit.

I’m not saying that we should wrap ourselves in a comfy blanket and ignore what’s going on in the world around us. As responsible citizens, we must stay well-informed and understand the issues that affect us and our children so that we can make informed decisions when the time comes. But there’s something to be said for ignoring the constant barrage of bad news, even if for a weekend.

Now, please don’t confuse me with someone who thinks social media and technology are proof the Devil exists. (They don’t.) There are enough of those people who get paid good money to write about that.

I think social media and technology, when used right, do way more good than bad.

But we are constantly fighting a barrage of information and data that is left to us to be analyzed and scrutinized. It becomes overwhelming.

The next time you open the Twitter app, take a deep breath. You’re going to be bombarded with enough content to make your head spin; not all of it accurate and truthful. That’s the nature of social media today: it’s a platform for sneaks to go unbidden to influence your decisions.

Don’t let them.

Instead, close it down and focus on what you can control.

And, if you still can’t, listen to the Accused podcast, instead.

You can thank me later.