What PRs love and hate about Twitter
Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
Twitter may have been dominating social media news headlines since it agreed to sell itself to Musk for $44 billion a few weeks ago, but as this feature is being written, it isn’t even trending in the top 50 most tweeted about topics on its own platform. Be that as it may, Twitter is a go-to tool for PR professionals, but that doesn’t always mean they always like using it. Below they list what they love and hate about Twitter.
What we hate about Twitter
It needs to clean up its act
Eduard Chilcos, digital insights consultant at digital PR agency Bottle: “Having a look at conversations on Twitter feels like you’re about to jump in the middle of a brawl with punches flying everywhere. The platform needs a good cleaning. If it is to survive, I would suggest Twitter needs to create an environment which invites brands and real individuals back on the platform, by monitoring hateful conversations and language far more closely for a start.”
It breeds trolling and hate
Chris Norton, founder of agency Prohibition PR: "If I were in charge of Twitter, I would make it so you can't join the platform anonymously and become the Egg with no profile picture. The anonymity on social media is what breeds all the trolling and hate, and that is what is dangerous and corrosive about the platform (as well as others).
"Twitter is a brilliant platform that connects you with people you'd probably not have the opportunity to speak to before, as well as people you want to learn from - yet it also comes with a lot of nastiness from a lot of people. It needs to be a tool for good, which means it needs to be better at removing the content that is abusive and harmful. If Twitter spent more time on this, then more and more people would join it and it would become even more popular amongst users."
It messes with the interview process
Dr Alex Connock, leader of the National Film and Television School’s Creative Business MA: “Any job interview process for a senior role at many institutions and companies now involves a look at the candidate’s social media activity. Engagement with debate on Twitter, and the frequency of that debate, can put a candidate in a negative position, because the employer will be asking themselves whether they want to take on the reputational risk of association of their brand with that debate, never mind the actual positions the candidate is taking, which may be controversial.”
It offers poor value
Dr Alex Connock: “From a value perspective, I often wonder whether the employers of leading journalists consider that the time spent doing journalism and commentary on Twitter is value generating for their own businesses; clearly. Any commercial operator will not be monetising that journalism, whilst they are nonetheless paying for it. They will need to be persuaded that the profile generated results in ‘earned media’ value to their publication, which is not always a simple equation to make.”
It lacks moderation (and moderate views)
Dr Alex Connock: “Twitter is not a representative audience, and that can lead to skewed perceptions of market reality, as we have seen many times in elections. It is simultaneously more liberal-elite, and more right-wing, than the general population. What it lacks is both moderation, and moderates.”
It isn’t transparent
Josh Wheeler, founder of agency Be Broadcast: “Twitter’s transparency needs to change. It is really a media owner, so having anonymous profiles leads it to a dark path. It would be like the BBC having anonymous and unaccountable journalists hurling abuse - it wouldn’t be accepted, nor should this.”
Fake news is a big problem
Tim Gibbon, founder of communications consultancy Elemental: “Misinformation and hate across all social platforms is a hot mess, Twitter included. Making it mandatory for individuals to provide verified identification before being able to post or interact with content is an option. Unfortunately, people consistently prove they are unable to control what they do when behind a screen. It would be an unpopular approach, but sometimes the popular decisions aren't necessarily the best ones. Platforms have to evolve, it will be interesting to see how Twitter's journey continues.”
Tweets are too short
Jamie Irwin, founder of agency StraightUpSearch.com: “Because tweets are so short, they can often come across as harsh or blunt and not effective enough for generating leads which is bad for business.”
Jamie Irwin: “It can be difficult to keep up with what's going on in the world, since there are so many tweets and users scroll through them at such a rapid pace - there's just so much noise, it's overwhelming!”
What we love about Twitter
It is real-time
Jade Margiotta, head of social media at for the curious, the creative consultancy at integrated agency Social: “Twitter’s biggest strength is that it's real-time - no other social platform comes close to tracking the wider pulse of the world and what’s happening within it - which makes it great for reactive marketing.”
It is entertaining
Jade Margiotta: “I also love how genuinely funny the platform is - some of my favourite meme and parody accounts live on Twitter.”
It offers the perfect ‘second screen’
Josh Wheeler: “The best thing about Twitter has to be the whole notion of second screen - some of my funniest exchanges on there have been about things like Bake Off. In the same sense, it is good to see the diversity of thought too against news, just take the recent “Who’s Lorraine” issue in Johnson’s interview with GMB, which trended for days around the local election.”
It connects you
Josh Wheeler: “It is often criticised for being divisive, but I think Twitter helps connect you with other like-minded people, which can’t be a bad thing.”
It is a force for good
Tim Gibbon: “The force for good through Twitter can be unlimited. If Twitter disappeared. I'd be concerned to see it go. Fortunately, there isn't a replacement. Some things can't be replaced. There is much talk about Mastodon, I currently don't see it. Every social platform has its own flavour. Social platforms are about community. The communities content, formats, tone, pace, etc, are all different. Alternatives and replacements are not the same.”
It allows you to shine
Jamie Irwin: “It is a great platform for establishing yourself as an expert or thought leader within your industry.”
It is a great media relations tool
Claire Simpson, senior communications consultant at marketing and communications consultancy Hard Numbers: “Twitter is a great source of intel and probably the best media relations tool you could ask for. As the tagline goes, ‘it’s what’s happening’. More than any other platform, Twitter is news driven and where stories break. So, it offers the best social playground for PRs to connect with journalists.
“It’s a place to engage with their content, follow their stories and really understand what makes them tick. Benefits include everything from a better pitch success rate to increased visibility with key contacts.”
Twitter Blue is a good proving ground
Claire Simpson: “Like any platform, it’s not perfect (*coughs* edit button *coughs*). But its subscription service, Twitter Blue, is increasingly being used as a proving ground for new features, helping drive improvements and serving as a good indicator of new functionality set to roll out to users more widely in future.”
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