Concise and clear communication
Twitter has shaped modern communications. Both experts and scholars do not question the Twitter utility, value and information power. On the contrary, they encourage using the platform as its speed of news spreading and concise communication style could help achieve outstanding results.
Going to Twitter is a daily habit for individuals and institutions. No one was able to predict the success of Twitter, when it opened to users in 2006. Twitter users have easily learned how to benefit from what the platform offers. The success of Twitter is explained through its simplicity in design and use.
Twitter is designed as a micro-blogging service. It enables people to connect with both desktop and mobile devices. The service beauty consists of the 140 character limit of a tweet.
It is not easy to convey a clear and complete message in 140 characters. But with the years people learned how to cope with the limit and enjoy the exercise as such. Most of us agree that it is worth knowing how to compress relevant and meaningful information to follow the Twitter rule.
Individuals were among the first Twitter users. Institutions saw the platform potential and joined in right away. Institutional communication strategies were poor at the beginning. With the months and years, institutions learned to shape them properly and therefore the successful stories were shared quickly right on Twitter.
Both commercial and academic literatures provide detailed pieces of advice and relevant evidence on why institutions should adopt Twitter to expand their communications on a platform where an important audience segment comes daily.
Switching the power from producers to information consumers
The main change social media have brought in is the transfer of power from the hands of producers to the hands of the consumers. This reality contradicts the traditional link between a producer and a consumer, where the producer can easily control the process. With the social media, and Twitter in particular, the consumer has a major power over the producer. His or her opinions may put down a brand as the literature mentions a number of examples that became famous worldwide.
Consequently, a producer should listen to a consumer and react appropriately to his/her needs and expectations. Therefore listening is key behaviour on social media. If institutions do not know how to listen on social media, they may risk losing credibility and reputation. Lately some companies prefer to assist their clients via Twitter and less by “traditional means” such as email or phone. The service is faster and more efficient.
Social media vs. social network
According to a number of experts, Facebook and LinkedIn are not social media, but social networks. It means that reciprocity of friending someone is at the heart of one’s network. Twitter is a clear example of a social media platform, where following does not require reciprocity. For example, celebrities are followed by an impressive number of people while they follow back just a small number of people. It means that the “followers”, people who follow the celebrities, are interested in getting their tweets in their Twitter feed. Celebrities may be less interested in getting news from their followers. The communication is therefore “one-way”.
Influence vs. passivity on Twitter
Both experts and scholars do not agree on a common definition of the term “influence”. It is hard to measure it and establish certain standards. The debate is still going on. In the early stages of the online communities, around 2006, experts coined a concept to explain passivity within an online community. The concept is the 1/9/90 standard distribution, which describes the natural behaviour of users, who register with a platform. According to this “distribution”, out of 100, 1 user is a content creator, 9 users are contributors, while 90 users are passive consumers.
An institution should therefore consider the natural behaviour of online users. An increased number of contributors is rarely recorded. That may be the case of some celebrities, including politicians.
Engagement on Twitter
Engagement is the degree to which an account holder interacts with the followers on Twitter. Twitter and its functions – retweet, reply, mention, favourite – make engagement a strong particularity.
A number of companies offer software tools to measure engagement, but most of them are ignored by scholars, for a number of reasons.
Therefore an institution should engage with its followers, listen to them and respond to their needs reasonably, no matter whether the engagement passes or not through a software tool.
Content polarity on Twitter
The tweets carry both positive and negative emotions. Why is it important to look at these aspects? The emotional value of the content is perceived differently by the followers. In the case of international audiences, striking a balance between positive and negative emotions is essential since cultural perceptions may vary.
Best institutional practice examples on Twitter
An institution should have a complete profile on Twitter. That includes a short text introduction, the logo and a link to the institution website. That helps potential followers to learn more about the institution.
Tweeting daily, but not over-tweeting, increases the chances of strengthening the digital presence on the platform. In addition, engaging with the followers and followees and retweeting their tweets leads to building a credible and strong online community which shares similar interests and goals.
Avoiding over-tweeting promotional content and answering followers’ queries and replies helps maintain a solid Twitter presence.