Twitter debuted eight years ago today. Back then, no one could have predicted that 140-character messages would alter how everyone from CEOs to celebrities to heads of state would communicate. PRWeek asked agency executives to reflect on this momentous shift.
Jim Joseph, president of North America, Cohn & Wolfe:
Twitter has completely changed how we view thought leadership in our industry. It's given professionals from every organization and experience level a platform to discuss varied topics, clarify points of view, and debate key issues. We create thought leadership platforms for many of our clients at Cohn & Wolfe, with Twitter often being the center of the engagement we seek to create. Twitter has shaped gurus across industries by providing access to both an audience and a distribution outlet for their thinking, inspiring legions of followers as a result.
I remember my first pop culture Twitter party for the Super Bowl back in 2009 (#SuperBowlExp). Hundreds of people were commenting on the advertising in real time – I couldn't believe how many people were chiming in with their opinions. It was the first time I realized that my own personal use of the channel could provide educational, real-time discussions that were both entertaining and rewarding. For the Super Bowl 2014 Twitter party, we reached over 7.7 million people, each with their own take on the participating brands' marketing activities.
Adam Katzenback, MD, Carrot:
Twitter has forever changed our style of communication, making people and brands embrace short attention spans. It often calls for people to be more pointed and direct; they do say "less is more." 140 characters forces you to think about what you want to say and offers you the opportunity to say that in a more direct, impactful way – rather than a longwinded diatribe you may be tempted to post on a different platform.
Twitter has, in a way, helped define the way we work. Twitter does a great job representing a moment in time. How do brands play best in that moment? Do they have the right to play in every moment? (Probably not.) At Carrot, we are helping brands and publishers pick and choose their moments intelligently, based off of behavior and data.
Personally, Twitter was the view piece for all of us following the Boston bombing suspect. This incident was the OJ Simpson car chase of our generation, and I was glued to my phone as the case progressed. It was our lifeline to information in a moment when our country was vulnerable and only comforted by real-time updates.
On a happy note, Twitter and I share a birthday.
Ozzy Farman, SVP and head of digital technology innovation, Weber Shandwick:
How has Twitter changed communications? When I read this question, I immediately felt the urge to respond in 140 characters or less. I think that alone speaks to behavioral changes that Twitter has driven in all communicators.
Aside from behavior, Twitter has brought forward a more global understanding of what is happening in the world. Never before in human history have we been able to broadcast or consume ideas or understand events in their correct context, in real time. As communicators we now have a truly evolved, global stream of conversations to not only understand, but also engage with and become part of.
As communicators, we sometimes take for granted the power of the platforms we work with. Twitter made a hugely memorable impact for me during the 2011 tsunami in Japan. It continues to be the first time in my memory where one could see the news and scene on the ground in Japan, as it broke, from the people who were there. As a technologist, it was incredible to me that Twitter so easily leveled the playing field between news events and a consumer on the other side of the globe.
Matt Wurst, VP and GM of social media, 360i:
Over its relatively brief lifespan, Twitter has remained a simple platform with a growing variety of potential user benefits. As a communication network, it is a sortable aggregator of information from many-to-one, one-to-many, and one-to-one.
Nowhere else can one single event elicit headlines and links to expanded coverage from 20 different news outlets, relevant opinions from 200 personal connections, and random musings from 200 million strangers.
As a believer and advocate for the power of integrated marketing, Twitter is uniquely positioned at the intersection of paid, earned, and borrowed media. Leveraging influencers and strategically targeted paid media has helped deliver more of the right content to the right audience at the right time – from the early days of promoted tweets to last year’s buzzy Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl.
Rob Longert, managing partner, Day One Agency:
I am constantly amazed at the global reach Twitter has in our society today. Our client, IMS Internet Media Services, is Twitter’s exclusive partner in Latin America, and in exploring and understanding the potential of the platform in the region with IMS, we’ve learned an incredible amount. It will be exciting to continue to watch how the growth of smartphone use and mobile penetration across the globe fuels record-breaking moments on Twitter.
It's been interesting to watch the trailblazing brands on Twitter, particularly from a customer service perspective. In 2009, many companies were still figuring out how to leverage the platform for customer service. When JetBlue responded to me when I was very delayed at the Orlando airport, it spoke volumes about how they treated their customers, and showed off the power of 140 characters. It’s affected my approach to Twitter customer service personally and professionally.