I suspended my Twitter account several months ago and haven’t looked back since.
What happened? You probably think it goes against the grain for a communications professional to shun a tried-and-tested communications tool to connect with clients. And perhaps you’re right. But here’s what I’ve noticed about Twitter.
1. Twitter is not about brand building — which is one of the outcomes that ML & CO works hard to deliver for our clients. It’s about attention-getting. Two different things.
It’s really hard to distill thoughts down to 280 characters. And even harder to have those characters get noticed and shared. Good headline writers and copywriters know how to make every word count. But most ordinary non-writers do not.
I have no way of knowing, but my hunch is that many people tweet before they have even collected their thoughts. Or they tweet as a thought is in the process of being developed. Limited by the number of characters, and spurred on by the need to get their followers’ attention, I can see why people add some drama, or some edge, or some hyperbole, to an emerging thought. Suddenly, an idea that started off half-baked turns into a tasty little morsel ready for their followers’ consumption.
But is it really what the person thought, or simply a reflection of their emotive state when they began to write. Who knows?
Twitter is Pavlovian, and as a digital tickle, it works. But the most it will tell you about a brand is very little. Unless, of course, the brand is based on shallow attributes rather than real insights. Because if there were an insight, what need would there be for drama?
2. I also stopped tweeting because it makes everyone sound like an extrovert and an expert. And thanks to the followers who amplify a tweet, the implication is that some ideas are more legitimate than others.
I know from years of interviewing people, engaging with clients, and listening to employees that the best ideas come from talking face-fo-face with people.
Being in the same room, on the same conference call, sharing the same video link all provide a means of hearing the subtleties of an idea, the nuances of an argument, and the quiet merits of a point-of-view. And the body language that speaks volumes.
I’ve learned to pay attention to quiet tones, thoughtful pauses and sub-texts. Not all good ideas come from extroverts and so-called experts.
Twitter turns the volume up on everything. It’s like a hearing aid that doesn’t know how to make a distinction between the background noise and the conversation.
Give me a choice between a conversation and a conversion, and I’ll pick a one-on-one chat every time.