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Storm in a covfefe cup - what is the point of Twitter?

The Twitter-sphere has erupted this week over a Trump tweet that has created an avalanche of responses, memes and jokes. With Twitter's ability to put people and organisations in the headline news, this week's blog looks at what the medium can actually help you to achieve.

If you haven't heard, what happened is the 45th President of the United States, yes that one, sent a Tweet just after midnight on Wednesday (US time) that said: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe." Clearly this wasn't what was intended but either way, the reaction has sent the internet and the world bananas. To the point that news outlets were treating the Twitter storm itself as news. People speculating that his aides pulled the phone off him before he had a chance to get himself in it (highly likely) to a news story quoting neurologists suggesting Donald Trump is suffering from sleep deprivation (I mean really!).

The real sublime and funny stuff though was on Twitter itself. One of the best in my view was the fact, someone went to the trouble of setting up a new Twitter account "Covfefe the Great" on the pretence of being a new Norse warlord that had been summoned by the US president. Hilarious yes, but amongst all the fun frivolity, it made me wonder: what is the point of Twitter? Is it just an echo chamber of a few? Is it just to highlight the circus of a civilisation we have become – competing in quips about some stuff up by a high-profile person, about watching cats and looking at kitsch 1970s dinner party meals? Or is there more to it.
Well fortunately my queries were answered in part that same evening when I got home to discover we had no power. Not power as in to control the universe or anything, I lost that a long time ago along with my will power, I'm talking electricity. So, no hot baths, no cooking, no lights no nothing. Instead it felt like I imagined those Victorian homes might have been lit and operated before Thomas Edison did his thing. Rather than try to explain that history lessons to the kids, my description was more around "this is an adventure isn't it, like we're camping" which seemed to work to quell any doomsday type scenario – "will we ever be able to have a hot meal again dad?". Anyway, I digress.

What I needed was some scrap of information about the predicament we were in and importantly when we might be out of it. First stop was the local power provider Vector's website. After seeing little here of value, I dutifully followed its instructions to go to its app only to find that didn't' register our outage either. In desperation, it was to Twitter I went.

And I was rewarded as I soon found out from another Tweeter that apparently the outage was caused by a bird that slammed into power lines and the power would be back on that night. Sounded plausible to me but could have been fake news after all the Tweeters name was Stuart Little. But sure enough bang on 8.30pm the power came back on and we were snapped back into our 21 st century reality.

Long story short, in the event of a crisis or real-time scenario which requires regular updates, Twitter really comes into its own. That is why Civil Defence is a huge fan as are transport organisations like NZTA and Auckland Transport. In this case, Vector seemed to only manage their account during work hours which is not ideal and I had to rely on the intel from my friend Stuart Little, but there you go.

In the perfect world, it is the place where authorities and organisations should be present if it is real time information you need to impart. It's for that reason to why you'll find many a journalist and newsmaker on Twitter as it is the place where they can be the first to fresh information and can break news of an event, milestone or emergency, political controversy ahead of writing a fully formed story.

Where there are journalists you'll also find commentators, politicians, news opinion makers and key decision makers. For that reason, it is also a great environment for any business organisation keen to be part of, or even better start, an industry wide discussion on a topic. Not necessarily to sell your product or service but be part of the discourse and highlight your achievements to key influencers. Not necessarily consumer product influencers, who might be better off in Instagram, but parties that have the potential to initiate change.

By positioning yourself in this way with these individuals, you have the chance to build your reputation and as we all know, reputation underpins all sales and marketing propositions. And remember with Twitter, a bit of humour and satirical wit, goes far as it is a conversation and the more value you can add to the conversation the better.

If you want to learn more on how you can tailor communications for Twitter or other social media platforms get in touch with us at info@theclaritybusiness.co.nz.

By Luke Henshall.