Social media is a very powerful tool for spreading information. It can have a role in every aspects of a person life, if one lets it. And companies struggle to truly generate information through social media that is worthy of sharing and spreading: something newsworthy.
Twitter is exceptionally well suited for spreading news. But for many businesses Twitter is uncharted territory and can be hard to understand.
Jack Dorsey, one of the co-founders of Twitter, explains in an interview with the LA Times back in 2009 where the name “Twitter” came from: “We came across the word ‘twitter,’ and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds.’ And that’s exactly what the product was.” He loved this idea because he felt that birds shared information through there “tweeting” in the same way that Twitter users do. He also parallels the idea of birds understanding one another through “tweets” to the idea that those who use Twitter only understand one another because they are fully immersed into the language and subject within Twitter.
This is exactly why Twitter is so intimidating.
It requires learning a new language and way of communicating that is not entirely comfortable to some. Language that can be alienating to someone who is late to the Twitter party, as it were.
The way that Dorsey describes Twitter is intriguing, specifically with the term “inconsequential information”, especially when you look at Twitter users use of it as a news outlet, and then take a closer look at the definition of “news”.
News: “newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.” This definition highlights the fact that news should be “noteworthy information”.
Not exactly in line with the definition of Twitter, is it?
So how does Twitter make its way from inconsequential to noteworthy?
Well, Pew Research Center did a study in 2013 on Twitter as a source of news. The findings are intriguing as Twitter is found to only be used by 16% of adults (as pictured in the diagram), but half of those adults use Twitter to consume news.
Even more interesting is comparing Twitter to Facebook when it comes to news consumption. Pew Research Center did another study at the same time, only focused on Facebook and news consumption. We see a similarity in that about half of both Twitter and Facebook adult users use these social sites to consume news.
The Interesting distinction between these two sites is this: Twitter users who are consuming news actively seek out news on Twitter, whereas only about 4% of Facebook users who are consuming news are actively seeking it out. News is definitely not a priority for Facebook users, at least not that kind of news. They’re more interesting in relationship statuses and the other personal “news.”
Why Is This?
Most likely this stems from Facebook’s algorithm that makes finding any kind of information very difficult to some users. Twitter’s real time feed makes it perfect for those who are seeking to consume information that is “about recent and important events.”
We saw with the World Cup this year that Twitter was definitely the prominent news source for all information pertaining to soccer. Scores, hashtags, GIFs, it was all there on Twitter.
How Is This Relevant To Marketers?
Marketers need to understand the distinction between various forms of social media and how to use them to the best effect. News is relevant information, so making your Twitter feed full of relevant information is going to provide you with access to approximately half of Twitter’s U.S. adult users. They want information in real time about what is happening in the world. As you establish your brand as a leading expert through your blog, you should be sharing that information.
Marketers make the news. We create it by creating information that is so irresistible it has to be shared. Whether it be the drop date for a new product everyone’s dying to get their hands on (think iPhone 6) or the latest cause that requires awareness. No matter what the information is, users are looking to social media, but specifically Twitter, to break the latest news and keep them up to date.
As marketers its our job to hold up our end of the bargain.
Use your Twitter feed to inform your followers. Hold conversations with them about the latest information. Through social media you should be informing your followers about what they need to know. Be an expert, be a leader, be a news source, and as a result your followers will come. Tweeting on the latest news and trends will gain you an audience, because the users on Twitter, as the research points out, actively seek the latest information on Twitter.
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