Oh, Thank Blog!

The other day, my post on Meme’s gained some attention after being “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress. My measly 10 random views a day skyrocketed to over a thousand. Comments came pouring in, as did ‘likes’ and even subscriptions to my blog. In fact, the primary reason most of you are reading this now is probably due to my one minor success. I’m not writing this as a boast, but rather to convey my disbelief that quickly led to some over-analyzing of the splendid situation.

I started this blog for a couple of reasons:

  1. To vent to an online community of nameless readers.
  2. To keep myself updated on PR & Media related events.
  3. To get myself (and my resume) out there, even if only as a resume builder.
  4. To deliver news as well as my own opinions.

Going into this experience, reasoning number four was not necessarily leading the pack. I realized that as “just another silly blogger” my chances of actually delivering my messages to a mass audience were pretty slim. I’ve been on twitter for some while, and despite any wit or wisdom (or at least what I would consider to be the two), my followers still mostly include real-life friends and the random spammers who want me to buy prescription drugs off the black market (and I of course don’t block these individuals because, let’s face it, I like to see my number of followers as high as possible–even if they are scumbags or robots). Due to my limited success on twitter, I came into the blogosphere with similar expectations. I planned for it to be more of a personal social networking tool, rather than one with mass appeal. But after the other day’s “Freshly Pressed” occurrence, I found my blog open to whole new opportunities.

The idea of people actually reading these posts is slightly intimidating (sorry for all the grammar and spelling mistakes…), but even more frightening– it’s slightly empowering. While I know my readership isn’t exactly of epic proportions, it’s more than I would ever expect. These readers, and the supporting and informative comments they’ve made lead me to the ultimate point of this latest post: The internet and its social networking sites have truly revolutionized the power of the people in getting their voice heard.

Perhaps I was first struck by this idea when I heard that Tweets would start to be recorded for the Library of Congress (so, years from now, some extremely bored relative of mine can look up my nonsensical 140 character ramblings). This latest blog experience has added to my disbelief. The internet is such a powerful resource in getting our voices heard. PR and Marketing companies caught on to this trend from the very beginning, capitalizing on the free publicity and tools. The best examples of the public using this power comes from Presidential elections, especially this past election when the youth voters made up a great majority of Obama’s support. Our ideas and opinions can be posted for the world to see. There is not filter or gate-keeper to keep our voices from being heard. Of course, garnering enough attention to make your message worthwhile is another campaign, but there remains that ability to freely voice your opinion to the possibility of a mass audience.

I know people will be reading my posts now. This fad may only last another week, or another month, but I at least know that my voice is being heard. People value my opinion and what I have to say. Whether they agree with me or not, whether they learn something from my posts or find them to be aimless ramblings– I know that people are at least taking the time to look at these words that I’ve put effort into creating. This is a wonderful feeling.

While I wanted to (quick) post to reflect upon the powers of the internet, I also want to take the chance to thank everyone for their support. The internet is filled with faceless and nameless viewers that I may never meet, but the positive and encouraging reactions they have to my writings are humbling. Thank you so much for your support and viewership. I wish you success in your blogs, and look forward to reading what everyone else has to say. We live during a very interesting time, and it’s wonderful that we can get the full effect of events through the opinions of others.


To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Today I got into a discussion with some of my co-workers about the purpose and benefits of Twitter (Note: These are co-workers in a field completely unrelated to public relations and, as women primarily in their mid to late 40s, they had limited knowledge of this mysterious thing called “twitter”). In the midst of explaining WHAT twitter was, I mentioned that I myself have a twitter page. I was met with a similar reaction that I often get from my very own peers– “why?”

Often I’m asked what possibly advantages Twitter has over Facebook. The error here is that people are so quick to compare the two social networking sites. Sure, they have similarities (for instance, I’ll often dumb down my Twitter explanation by comparing it to Facebook status updates), but they are also vastly different. I use Facebook to stay in touch with friends from home, friends from school, friends from abroad, and even the occasional soft-core stalking of people I haven’t seen since high school. While I do “follow” some of these same people on twitter, I look at twitter as a much different platform from which to conduct and access networking and communication.

As I explained to my coworkers today, Twitter is beneficial for companies who want a way to send a quick message to employees or consumers. They can have multiple accounts– perhaps one for Customer support, another for internal communications, and still another with job opening postings. Having done a lot of work on twitter for a recent internship, I realized that most of the Fortune 500 companies are on twitter and have employed it in some of the ways I mentioned above.

But there is much more to twitter than finding out the latest in news from Microsoft or big name car companies. Often the immediate appeal, especially for the youth or starstruck, are the celebrities that use twitter. I will admit that I was similarity drawn to twitter when I found out that I could be following these idolized individuals who we, the masses, usually view as so far away from ourselves, so separate. Twitter gives you a behind-the-scenes sort of view of celebrities– their thoughts, perhaps picture and video posts, what they’re up to, and usually all this goes public without the censorship of their badgering publicists. These sort of things have led to a number of fun scandals for the public (i.e. John Mayer, he was practically asking for it). I myself am a big movie and television buff. I like to see the behind the scenes footage, know what’s happening on set, and even catch up on my spoilers. For this reason, I follow a number of entertainment and film sites on twitter. Their 140 character headlines are sometimes enough, or else I’ll click a link or photo they may provide. I also follow my own brand of celebrities, including directors (such as Jon Favreau) who are always eager to give their most loyal audiences some sneak peeks.

Of course, there are still other reasons to follow people on twitter, such as keep up with friends or getting the latest headlines, but the question often is– Why tweet?

Honestly, I enjoy it. I enjoy coming up with 140 character witticisms that I hope my (few) followers enjoy. It also does come in handy for keeping in touch with my few friends who also tweet. I admit, I’m horrible at keeping in touch, even with all of the modern day advances in communication. And yet, despite my inability to sit down and send an email, I will ALWAYS check my twitter, where I find out that so-and-so got accepted to law school, or so-and-so really enjoyed some movie. These little tidbits are often trivial, but still help me stay connected– to friends, family, websites, news, and even the occasional celebrity.

For companies, the “why tweet?” is obvious– for your business. While studies show that the majority of twitter users are under the age of 30, they are also usually the most technologically advanced. For certain companies, this is exactly the market they are looking for. For other companies, a twitter account still keeps them in touch with this particular target audience. No business needs to completely devote themselves to their twitter account, but it certainly is a good way to keep clients and consumers updated. In crisis communication situations, a twitter account is also beneficial in maintaining a clear and open position. Sure, you could write a whole blog entry (like this one), or you could give multiple updates, as you get them, keeping your audience informed and up to date.

Most recently, I heard that a heart surgeon has decided to employ twitter to give live updates as she performs open heart surgery. At first, I imagined some Scrubs-esque scene where a doctor tweets in between every task– that’s ridiculous, I thought. Then I realized that obviously the surgeon themselves was not tweeting (duh!). It eventually dawned on me that if I had a family member undergoing a difficult and life-threatening procedure, I would want constant updates on their progress. Imagine the countless hours people wait to hear the news, pacing back and forth, unable to settle down until they know the news. What if they could follow the surgery on twitter? Would that reduce their anxiety? Sure, there are probably several problems and possibly even ethical situations there. A few bugs to work out. But what an extraordinary idea.

So if you use twitter for fun, for the news, for the business, or for whatever reason– enjoy it. It’s not Facebook. It’s not a blog. It’s its own site, with its own unique features to be explored and expanded on. Or perhaps it is the very simplicity of twitter that attracts so many of us. As I once tweeted: Twitter is perfect for people like me whose wit rarely reaches anything above 140 characters.

(oh, and P.S. to enjoy some more of my writing, but in a 140 character limit sort of way, feel free to follow me: trickart262)